2015 Corison, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kronos Vineyard, Napa Valley.
The Kronos Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon by Cathy Corison, the Napa Valley icon who’s celebrating her birthday today August 9, is one of the great wines of the new world and this 2015 vintage is proof of that with incredible depth and sophistication of flavor. While I love Corison’s regular Napa bottling, there is no question the Kronos is something remarkably special, it pushes the bar higher for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with its concentration, which is hedonistic, but balanced by its inner energy, this is what a great wine should be, lush and textured with a full bodied palate, polished tannin structure and a still vibrant and vividly detailed, it never feels over blown or like chocolate syrup as many high end Napa Cabs can be, and the natural alcohol is lower than most, especially in the more serious echelon of wines from the Valley. Some of this is Cathy’s style showing its class and some of it is the organic and sustainable farming techniques used in the Kronos vineyard, which sits in the shadow of the Mayacamas just behind the Saint Helena winery a stones throw from the famous Hwy 29, in the heart of Napa Valley. The Kronos Vineyard, was named for one of the titans in Greek mythology, the sons of heaven and earth, and it lives up to its name, and Corison feels blessed to work with such a legendary site, this vineyard gives her an elevated platform from which to showcase her talents, as this wine clear presents. It was planted in 1971 on St. George rootstock, which is completely resistant to Phylloxera, and these mature gnarly, wise old ladies are now over 45 years old, it is thriving in its prime, but of course the yields are pitifully low at a meager 1.25 tons/acre. Corison, who was the first woman winemaker winery owner in Napa Valley, believes this vineyard offers her a chance to make a singular wine, a profound Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, that rivals the world’s best, she adds that the wines she has made from here, make Kronos one of the great Cabernet vineyards of the world. Certainly I would put it in there somewhere, and this vintage I am sure holds its own with a regal and powerful presence in the glass.
Cathy’s career started with her completing a master’s degree in Enology at UC Davis, after which she took a harvest internship at Freemark Abbey back in 1978. Her head winemaking began at Chappellet Vineyard and lasted for most the 1980’s, and she did a little moonlighting at times, consulting for the likes of Staglin, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch. Her own label began in 1987 and she focused almost entirely on crafting world class Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards along the Rutherford and St. Helena bench, where the gravelly loams soils produce distinct wines that are terroir driven. The 2015 Kronos delivers a rich and inky dark Cabernet Sauvignon with layers of classic blackberry, plum, succulent currant, kirsch and blueberry fruit along with a touch of spice, sweet cedar notes, a hint of violets, vanilla and with cinnamon and licorice. The mouth feel is impressive and this wine has a gripping personality that holds your attention on the lengthy finish and the aftertaste goes on for days. The tannins are ripe, as they tend to be in warm years, but as always in Corison’s wine they hold everything together and there is a brightness that makes this young and forceful Cabernet Sauvignon sing, and gives me a certainty of further greatness in the years ahead, without question this wine holds a treasure of rewards for those who have patience. This Kronos, like the famed Ridge Monte Bello, and the recently reviewed Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow, looks set to be a contender for classic status in the cellar, it should age wonderfully and stay in its prime for decades. The bouquet shows fresh fruits, floral tones and a smoky wood note, and with air some loam, savory sage and tobacco leaf emerge adding complexity and with robust cuisine this wine shows off, it really benefits from decanting at this stage, allowing it to stretch its legs and the food melts the tannins.
Happy Birthday Cathy and thank you for making such monumental wines, this 2015 Kronos is gorgeous stuff, it grew on me and while I didn’t think I could like a 2015 vintage wine as much as I loved the 2014, but this wine won me over completely, and I’ve curious to see where it goes, I hope I get a chance to enjoy this wine again in 10 or 15 years.
($165 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive