Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cornerstone's 2010 Stepping Stone Riesling, Impressive.

Continuing with the wine samples sent to me by Cornerstone Cellars, I recently tasted their 2010 Stepping Stone Riesling, also from Napa Valley fruit. Riesling and Napa Valley don't exactly go together in a lot of people's minds, I admit to a bit of bias myself when I saw this. Interestingly enough, riesling used to be planted all over Napa Valley, but has long since been ripped up for cabernet and chardonnay predominantly.

I think though, that I also know the skill level of winemaker Jeff Keene, so upon a bit of reflection I thought to myself "This could be some very good wine, why not make riesling in Napa?"

The Stepping Stone label has been around for three vintages, this is the first time they've released a riesling and I think wine lovers everywhere are in for a real treat.

(img src: http://www.cornerstonecellars.com/steppingstone)

The 2010 Stepping Stone Napa Valley Riesling
pours a beautiful pale yellow, bright and clear all the way through. Aromatically, this riesling smells amazing. Citrus blossom, lychee, stone fruit and a touch of melon. At once classy, yet exciting and racy, I couldn't pull my nose out of the glass. Just like with the 2010 Stepping Stone Cuvee Musque, Jeff Keene brings out enticing aromas that evolve beautifully the longer your wine sits in the glass.

I love how dry this riesling is too, lots of acid right away sets the tone for a structured, linear wine. I immediately picked up clean flavors of summer stone fruit, tangerine, and great minerality. The finish was memorable because it was so tight and quick, in a good way. Sometimes a wine's finish can be too abrupt, leaving the drinker wondering what just happened. Not so with the 2010 Stepping Stone Riesling, while the finish is quick, it packs enough acid to get your palate ready for the next bite of food. After each sip I put my glass down and had a big grin on my face, a testament to the sheer enjoyment this wine brings.

Speaking of food, this is begging for spicy Thai, sushi, or grilled herb-rubbed chicken. It's one of the more versatile white wines I've had lately, which makes sense because riesling is a darling of sommeliers everywhere, it pairs with a wide variety of foods.

For about $18, the 2010 Stepping Stone riesling is superb, a great example of making wine with a varietal not common to a particular region, and doing it quite well. Easy B+ and STRONG BUY recommendation. I would love to pour this blind for some riesling loving buddies and see if they could pick out where it came from. Buy a lot, if you want something to open on a hot summer day as you're cooking up a new dish, you're in luck. You should hurry though, only 435 cases were made.

This was a sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. That's a compelling review. You've got my attention. I'll keep my eye out for it next time I'm in a bigger market, although I'm not too confident that much Cali Riesling makes it into Oregon. It looks like they need some SEO on their site too. Fab OC Wine Chick's review from this sample shows up above the winery website when googled!

  2. I want to taste this blind with you and Chas, I think you'd be surprised and pleased with the QPR as well as the overall deliciousness of the wine.