Of fans and fanboys: Cornerstone Cellars

I get a kick out of fanboys (and fangirls). There is a certain phone that seems to generate some of the funniest ones around. No matter the facts, no matter the specs, no matter how often they look at other phones and wish (some openly, some not) that their phone’s aging and restrictive operating system could do the same things, they insist that they have the best phone on the planet. The things they can’t do are evil in some way, that’s why their phone protects them. Luckily for all of us, fanboys tend to be outnumbered by fans.

There is a difference between a fan and a fanboy. Wikipedia defines a fanboy thusly:

Fanboy is a term used to describe a male who is highly devoted and biased in opinion towards a single subject or hobby within a given field. Fanboy-ism is often prevalent in a field of products, brands or universe of characters where very few competitors (or enemies in fiction, such as comics) exist.

To me the best way to define them is willfully delusional. A fan is usually loyal and admiring, but even if they harbor an illusion about the object of their admiration, it can be shattered and put aside. For example, I have always been a huge fan of Muhammad Ali. I believe that he is probably the greatest fighter of all time. It was painful to see him lose, and even more towards the end of his career when he should have already hung up his gloves. If I were a fanboy instead of a fan I’d spend a lot of time arguing with people who believe the only reason that he isn’t still the champ is that he chooses to stay home these days, possibly to play with his iPhone.

The reason I mention this is that there are few wine producers that I have to guard my natural inclination to become a fanboy of. If we were more about reviews, we would probably have to guard more against even being fans, but as it is, reviews aren’t our main focus so we can be fans. Longtime readers know that we used to write about Twisted Oak so often that I worried about being perceived as being in their employ. The only reason we haven’t written much about them lately is due to us not having the opportunity to taste it much recently. We did have some of their Grenache last week at our friend Thea’s house in San Francisco and it was fantastic. Which leads back to guarding against becoming a fanboy for certain wineries. Not only have I liked every Twisted Oak wine I have ever tasted, but I also like the winemaker, his wife, and even his awesome dog as well. I have to be vigilant that my opinion of them doesn’t color how I write about the wine.

Another winery that falls into the same group is Cornerstone Cellars. The worst I could ever say about any of their wines that I have tasted is that it was very good. Some of their best bring to mind the phrase “Orgasmic rush of lust” from Rose Tints My World from the RHPS because they are so good they have to bring in pleasure centers of the brain usually reserved for other activities. In fact, for the first of the wines reviewed below my major contribution to our tasting notes was, “WOW!” If I recall correctly, I said it more than a few times, but Amy only wrote it down twice. Like Twisted Oak, I am also a fan of the guy who runs Cornerstone, Craig Camp, another one of the true gentlemen of the wine world. One difference is that I’ve never met his wife or his dog, in fact I don’t even know if he has a wife or a dog. Another difference is that he doesn’t delight in destroying me at Words with Friends, but that’s another story.

Anyway, there you have it. I am a fan of the winery that makes the two wines reviewed here. Take that for whatever you think it’s worth. Am I just making an honest disclosure, or am I an iPhone user foaming at the mouth describing how evil Flash and Google are? I sure hope it’s the former.

2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet with steakFirst up is the 2007 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet. Whenever I hear someone say that they don’t like big Napa Cabs I think to myself, “Good deal, more of them for me!” This wine is a perfect example of why I do like big Napa Cabs. It isn’t overblown or over done, it is just powerful and delicious.

The first thing you’ll notice about this as it is poured into a glass is that it is dark. Very dark. Inky purple, almost black and opaque, it looks like a powerful wine. Put it up to your nose and prepare to take some time finding everything that’s in there. Loads of black cherry, ripe blackberries, violets, pipe tobacco and hints of star anise and something smokey hint at what you are about to taste.

One taste and the wows start. Leather, tobacco, black pepper, blackberries and black cherries that blend and fade in varying ways on the finish. This is a rich, powerful, fruit-filled wine, but is not overly so in any area. Everything is balanced with a juicy acidity that makes this wine different from a lot of Napa Cabs made in this style; it pairs with food very well. We had it with medium rare T-Bone steaks and roasted rosemary potatoes, both generously dusted with fresh ground pepper. Just the memory of that meal brings a tear to my eye.

Cornerstone Cellars 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Cornerstone Cellars 2007 HowellMountain Cabernet SauvignonThe second wine  is the 2007 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet. More subtle and subdued than the previous wine, it shows the deep roots that connects California to France. If someone put this wine in front of me for a blind tasting I would probably waver back and forth between guessing it as a Napa Cab created by a highly skilled winemaker with a subtle hand or a beautiful Bordeaux made by a winemaker with an appreciation of new world styles.

It is a dark ruby red color that picks up light and sparkles. The nose is leather and tobacco balanced by big cherry and cassis notes, with hints of lavender and eucalyptus. Your mouth will water as the juicy ripe fruit take the lead over the leather and tobacco flavors. Amy described it by saying that it “warms in your mouth like a passionate lover’s kiss.” Apparently Cabernet tints her world and keeps her safe from the trouble and pain too. Adjectives that come to mind for this wine would include harmony, balance, bodacious and…is freakin’ awesome an adjective? If so, it’s on the list.

We had this with hunks of nicely marbled USDA Prime sirloin and it was a match made in heaven.

If you get the chance to try any of Cornerstone’s offerings, or Twisted Oak’s for that matter, I highly recommend that you do. Let me know if you become a fan too. Just don’t become a fanboy, okay? I’d hate to hear people limiting themselves while denigrating other wines due to their devotion. On the other hand, if there were any wines capable of inspiring that sort of devotion, these would be among their number. As they sometimes say down here in Texas, “Getchoosum!”

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