There are two things you need to know before reading this review. The first is that I’m friendly with winemaker Cathy Corison and her husband and business partner, William Martin, which makes it difficult to be objective about her wines. The second thing you need to know is that this opening this bottle now is infanticide.
Kronos is an old-vine vineyard, an eight-acre parcel surrounding the Corison production facility on the west side of Highway 29 in St. Helena. The vine trunks are crazed and craggy, anchored in gravelly alluvial soils on St. George rootstock. These old crones yield astonishingly little and very concentrated fruit, but Cathy harvests judiciously, when it still has nerve. (Read more about the vineyard in our earlier profile, Every Little Thing Is Small: A Conversation with Cathy Corison.)
The 2013 vintage was anodyne, nearly perfect, and the resulting wine is perfumed, lissome, youthful, and promising. It is fragrant of black currants and brambly berries and decorated, as with all of Cathy’s Cabernets, with rose petals and violets, anise seed and almost mint; it reads like a blooming field frilled with petals and leaves. The fruit is black-hearted, something like black cherries muddled with tart blueberries, but darker, too, and earthier. Texturally the wine is lustrous and gleaming, the tannins like ribbed silk velvet, but still pleasantly nappy at the finish.
It feels freshly sprung. At this stage of the wine’s evolution it displays the birthmark of its primary fruit, which is barely veiled by the signatures of fermentation and barrel aging. There’s a third layer, too, likewise almost sheer, that animates the wine, adding personality, detail, and identity. This is not winemaking; that’s in the second layer. Let’s call this layer terroir.
A wine so wise yet so young needs cellaring. Age the vintage for at least five years; Cathy has told me her wines reach a sweet spot at the ten-year mark. If you have the luxury of time, seize it.
2013 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard Napa Valley
13.4% abv | $175; allocation only (sample)