Flemings scottsdale

Women in Wine | Cathy Corison | Corison Winery

wine bottle wine glassesTwo of my three favorite things in the world, women and wine, came together one recent fateful evening at Fleming’s Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their “Women & Wine” dinner featured three of America’s top wines, all of which are produced by, you guessed it… women. Like my recent five part series focus on affordable California Cult Wines, I’ve opted to give each of these fabulous females their time in the spotlight.

The first winemaker needs little introduction for many. Cathy Corison is widely considered a pioneering presence for women in the Napa Valley. And boy, can she make wine. Corison has been a winemaker for more than 3 decades, putting her hand behind legendary names like Chapellet and Staglin during the early and mid 80s. She’s quick to point out that a strong support system has been essential to her success, attributing her husband’s work on equipment maintenance and bookkeeping as the backbone behind her accomplishments.
Corison Winery’s inaugural vintage was in 1987, with a focus on elegant, finesse-driven Cabernet  from benchland vineyards located between St. Helena and Rutherford. A great winemaker requires great vineyards to make great wines, and Corison is the first to acknowledge this. Her vineyards are composed largely of stony, alluvial soils. She explains that while these vineyards produce “some of the most concentrated and superbly ripened fruit anywhere”, her wine making philosophy is “traditional, using only small oak barrels”. It is her job to let the vineyards speak. They don’t just speak, they roar.
The 2000 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is a great example of Corison’s lofty reputation, currently showing at its peak with soft, elegant tannins and ripe, complex fruit. Hands down one of the best wines I’ve tasted this year, James Laube of Wine Spectator rated it a conservative 90 pts back in 2003. Like he suggested, the 2000 vintage was a tough one that would require 10 years to show its merits. If this wine is any indication, Laube is spot on. Luck for us, this and many other older vintages are still available from Corison’s Library Collection.
Cathy Corison has raised the bar high for fellow females in the California wine scene. Stay tuned to see if the other two ladies featured that evening could live up to Corison’s legendary status.

A modest 3,200 cases were made of this wine. Also still available in magnum format for $240, this is the perfect bottle to buy for anyone looking for a long term cellaring, “cultish” California Cabernet.

Edited by Jon Troutman

Review: Fleming’s Women and Wine Dinner

Steakhouse dining room

Fleming's on North Scottsdale Road

Last week Fleming’s Steakhouses across the country hosted their “Women & Wine” dinners.  At the events guests were treated to some amazing wines made by some legendary women in the wine world including Cathy Corison, Kristin Belair and Janet Myers.

Cathy Corison wine

Corison 2000 Cabernet

We started out the evening with swiss cheese puffs and house cured salmon, citrus creme fraiche and crispy wonton.  These were paired with Cathy Corison’s 2000 vintage  Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa valley.  Cathy Corison is a legendary wine maker having made wines for over 30 years for brands like Chappellet, Staglin Family, York Creek and Long Meadow Ranch.  It was very nice to taste a wine that has had significant time to age in the bottle.  This  wine was very refined with beautiful and mature tannins.  It paired very well with the food as it was soft and gentle enough as to not overpower  the food.

Next we enjoyed Butternut squash bisque with Danish blue cheese fondue and bacon herb bruschetta.  This was paired with Honig, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa.  Kristin Belair is the wine maker at Honig and has been since 1998.  This wine is much bigger and bolder, younger than the Corison.  It displays notes of sage and currant as well as a pronounced creamy vanilla which only really came out after the Lamb chops served next.  The wine manager for this Fleming’s location, Tony Novak suggested we save a little of the Honig to try later after the main course, to see how it changes with the main course.  And it did.  I thought it was delicious to begin with, but actually found it tasted better with the rosemary Lamb chops which is what we enjoyed next.

05 Magnificat

Rosemary-scented lamb chops on parmesan risotto with maple roasted parsnips and a red wine demi glace.  This was paired with Franciscan, Magnificat 2005 from Napa.  This wine is made by Janet Myers who joined Franciscan Estate in 2003 and began winemaker in 2005.  Janet is also the winemaker at Mount Veeder winery. The ’05 Magnificat is a blend of 73% Cabernet, 23% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.  This wine is loaded with dark fruit, powerful and a made for red meat!

During the dinner we watched on a big flat screen some short videos made by Wine Spectator which gave us a little insight into the wine makers and the wines, including interviews and scenery.  I thought that was a nice touch.

My favorite part of the dinner came next: dessert!   Thick and rich caramel pudding with crumbled Heath bar on top with shortbread cookies on the side. The dessert was pretty big and I was unable to finish it all, but I kept going back and nibbling on it, I couldn’t stop myself.

At the end of dinner each table was presented with a special gift.  A set of nice big red wine glasses with the Fleming’s “F” engraved on it and a bottle of the 2005 Magnificat.  That was really an amazing touch because the wine alone retails for about $55 a bottle.  Guests enjoyed an amazing meal, amazing wines, and then were given a whole bottle and two glasses for later…all for $95 a plate.  It’s these  extras that can really make a merely good evening into a great evening.

*Disclaimer*  I attended this event as a guest of Fleming’s and Tin Can Marketing.