Fun and Uncommon White From a Napa Valley Legend

Today’s Story: Corison Winery

Corison Winery is a relatively small, family-run winery established in 1987 by winemaker Cathy Corison and her husband William Martin. Cathy fell into winemaking somewhat by chance, thanks to a wine course she stumbled into while studying Biology at Pomona College. After graduation she moved to the Napa Valley and later received her Enology degree with UC Davis before working harvest at Freemark Abbey in 1978. Throughout the 1980s Cathy worked in winemaking at Chappellet Vineyard, ultimately starting Corison Winery through custom crush in 1987. William, on the other hand, worked as an architect before meeting Cathy in 1990 and moving to the Napa Valley. He spearheaded the purchase of the Kronos Vineyard in 1995, and designed the winery which broke ground there in 1999. Today William helps with IT and accounting while Cathy runs winemaking, however both are heavily involved in all aspects of the winery (especially during harvest).

Corison Winery at its core is a Cabernet Sauvignon house. However, Cathy’s wines are not entirely common relative to her neighbors in that she focuses on producing restained, elegant, and “old school” wines. Cathy’s fruit is generally harvested earlier to preserve some natural acidity and to avoid over-ripeness, resulting in Cabernet that is relatively lower in alcohol and built for the long haul. A step further, Cathy’s winemaking is largely non-interventionist which allows the wines to showcase its fruit with a sense of place. Corison produces three main wines, including the Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sunbasket Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and an appellation wine labelled Corison Cabernet Sauvignon. She later started making a Helios Cabernet Franc from the Sunbasket Vineyard, and produces a rosé and Gewürztraminer under her second label called Corazón.

I previously reviewed the 2008 Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Corazón Gewürztraminer

100% Gewürztraminer; 13.3% ABV

The 2020 Corazón Gewürztraminer is pale straw yellow in color and completely transparent. Aromas are rather delicate and of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of lychee, grapefruit, lime zest, pear, ginger, rose petal, and wax. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, and the somewhat spicy palate displays notes of ginger, lychee, pear, grapefruit zest, lemon pith, white pepper, and white florals. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish.

Price: $40. While the quality level here is good and it’s fun to try a California Gewürztraminer, I struggle to call this a strong value given many of the options coming out of Germany and Alsace, France. This is fun to try at the estate during the tasting, but Corison’s magic truly comes with the Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings.