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.

Tasty Gewurztraminer From Centuries of Tradition

Today’s Story: Maison Trimbach

Maison Trimbach is one of the most notable winemakers in Alsace, established in 1626 by Jean Trimbach. Today Trimbach is under the guidance of Hubert Trimbach and his nephews Jean and Pierre, rounding out 12 generations of family ownership and shared knowledge. Pierre’s daughter Anne, the oldest of the 13th generation, also now works in the family business. Though Trimbach’s world recognition greatly expanded in 1898 when Frédéric Emile Trimbach earned the highest marks at the International Wine Fair in Brussels, Trimbach is largely famous for the legendary Clos Sainte Hune vineyard. Located in the Rosacker Grand Cru vineyard, Clos Ste Hune has belonged to the Trimbach family for over two centuries and produces some of the most exquisite Alsatian Riesling in existence.

The Trimbach estate consists of 40 hectares encompassing 50 parcels across six villages that include Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, and Hunawihr. Trimbach also operates as a négociant business to produce additional non-estate wines. All of Trimbach’s winegrowing practices are sustainable and they try to preserve the natural environment of the vineyards. Trimbach practices close pruning and soil tilling while encouraging moderate yields and rigorous fruit selection come harvest which is accomplished entirely by hand. When the grapes are gently crushed at the winery, juices flow via gravity and Pierre vinifies and matures the wines adhering to centuries of tradition with both finesse and focus on the terroir. After being bottled each spring, the wines are released by maturity with some spending 5 to 7 years in the cellars to achieve balance before release.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Gewurztraminer

100% Gewurztraminer; 14% ABV

The 2016 Gewurztraminer is transparent medium gold in color. On the nose, I get aromas of tangerine, peach, lemon curd, rose, beeswax, and petrol. The palate is quite vibrant and lively, with notes of mandarin, grapefruit, pear, ginger, white florals, herbs, and mineral. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity and a dry, long finish.

Price: $24. I think this is fairly priced and a pretty solid representation for the variety. Pair this with foie gras, Munster cheese, or apple streusel.

Perhaps the Most Interesting Wine I’ve Ever Had

Today’s Story: Hiyu Wine Farm

Hiyu Wine Farm, established by Nate Ready and China Tresemer, is a 30 acre working farm in the Hood River Valley of Oregon. The property consists of 14 acres of vines, 4 acres of fields and pastures, 4 acres of forest and a pond, and 0.5 acres of market garden with the balance devoted to food forests. Guided by the practices of biodynamics and permaculture, Hiyu tends very little to their vines and they do not hedge or green harvest. Rather, all mowing or tilling is accomplished by pigs, cows, chicken, ducks, and geese that live in the vineyards in cycles throughout the year. Hiyu does not use any sulfur in the vineyards and claims to spray 85% less material than a standard organic or biodynamic vineyard, with the majority being cinnamon oil or herbal teas. Interesting to note, the vineyards are divided into 0.5 acre blocks each planted to a field blend of varieties. There are 80 different varieties and even more clones planted on the farm! In the cellar, Nate practices minimal intervention winemaking and prefers long aging in oak before the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal SO2 (5ppm max).

Today’s Wine: 2015 Ramato

80% Pinot Gris, 15% Gewürztraminer, 5% Pinot Noir; 15% ABV

The 2015 Ramato is medium copper/amber orange in color while being transparent yet hazy. Once this blossoms in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of tangerine, orange rind, peach, rose petals, hibiscus, fresh cut wheat, hazelnut, and bright mineral. In the mouth, this intriguing wine displays notes of apricot, grapefruit, orange marmalade, cantaloupe, mixed wildflowers, ginger, and white pepper. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, light tannins, and a thought-provoking medium (+) finish.

Price: $80. The value perspective is a bit difficult with this one, because I feel this wine is more about the experience. Yes, it is of supreme quality and so well-balanced you will say “wow;” but this is certainly a wine for the explorers who want to shock their palate back to life and compare prices more for how a wine makes them feel. With that out there, I would certainly buy more of this…if I could find it. Pair with salmon, oysters, or Parmigiano-Reggiano amongst other strong cheeses.