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Chris Corley
May 30, 2020 | Chris Corley

Check Out our Library Wines! Corley 'Proprietary' Red Wine 2005-2007

A few weeks before we picked our first grapes of the 2005 vintage, our daughter Ruby was born. That day, Ruby joined her 15 month old brother Jackson in making our hearts whole, and our house a very happy place. In terms of birth year wines, both of my kids are fortunate, since 2004 and 2005 were both good vintages, albeit for contrasting reasons. In the vineyards, 2004 was a hot, fast growing season, while 2005 was a long, cool growing season. Ironically, my kids temperaments are somewhat opposite to their birth-year viticultural growing seasons, but they will both be happy that I’ve tucked away some nice large format bottles for them to enjoy when the time is right.
Wine vintages correspond with specific times in our lives. Growing seasons correspond with life seasons. Sometimes the characteristics of each synchronize, at other times they contrast. Regardless, it is one of the primary joys of opening up older wines. The vintages remind of us of a specific time in our past, for better or for worse, hopefully for the better.
When we open older wines, we hope to enjoy the full rush of aromas, flavors and textures that only time and patience can deliver. These are the tertiary characteristics that winegrowers and winemakers can not make, but rather we set the stage for them to develop.
Primary characteristics in wine come from the grapes themselves. These are the fruit aromas, the fruit flavors, the natural characteristics from the grapes. For the most part, these primary characteristics are primarily found in the skins.
Secondary characteristics in wine come from the winemakers hand. Examples of these are tannin levels, determined by fermentation techniques. Oak influence, determined by the amount of new barrels the winemaker uses. For Chardonnay, malolactic fermentation (butteriness) is a secondary characteristic driven by the winemaker.
Tertiary characteristics in wine develop with time. We don’t grow or make them, but rather we set the stage for them.
As an example, when we make a robust Cabernet Sauvignon, we evaluate the tannin levels alongside the aromas and flavors. We need to determine if the aromas and flavors are robust enough to last 20+ years. Then we need to determine if the tannin strength and age-ability is in sync with the robustness of the flavors and aromas and other textural components, so that they all age gracefully at the same rate, allowing the tannins to soften and the flavors and aromas to develop into tertiary characteristics. This analysis is all done with some of the most sophisticated enological tools currently available … noses, palates, experience, and imagination.
With the tasting room closed for the last couple of months, we’ve had an opportunity to dig into the library and dust off some older bottles that have been resting back in the far reaches of the cellar.
We’ve selected a mini vertical of three vintages of our Corley ‘Proprietary’ Red Wine, 2005-2007, to share with you.
These three vintages are all wonderful, yet individually distinct in their own rights. Here are some notes from Wine Enthusiast from when the wines were originally released. In our next blog post, I’ll share some personal notes from each vintage, and some update notes of how the wines are tasting now!
2005  Proprietary Red Wine – 91 Points (Wine Enthusiast)
"This Bordeaux-style blend, which this year contains a bit of Syrah, seems to vary vintage to vintage. The '05 is based on Cabernet Franc. It shows a fine structure. The oak-infused black cherry, black currant, violet and anise flavors are impressive."
2006 Proprietary Red Wine – 90 Points (Wine Enthusiast)
"[An] elegant wine. Shows blackberry, black currant, anise and cedar flavors that taste sweet and rich..."
2007 Proprietary Red Wine  – 90 Points (Wine Enthusiast)
"Makes for nice drinking right now, because of the abundance of forward, jammy blackberry and cherry fruit."
For more information on our current library offer please visit : CORLEY Proprietary Red Wine 2005-2007.
Time Posted: May 30, 2020 at 12:33 PM Permalink to Check Out our Library Wines! Corley 'Proprietary' Red Wine 2005-2007 Permalink
Chris Corley
May 25, 2020 | Chris Corley

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. Today is also National Wine Day. 

Normally, we would be happy to celebrate National Wine Day. However this year, with the two days coinciding, we choose to honor the men and women of the armed services who have given everything defending our liberties and our values.

We salute you, honor you, and thank you.

Today, we would like to share with you the Memorial Day address given by Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, on May 30, 1914

Woodrow Wilson
Memorial Day Address
May 30, 1914
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have not come here to-day with a prepared address. The committee in charge of the exercises of the day have graciously excused me on the grounds of public obligations from preparing such an address, but I will not deny myself the privilege of joining with you in an expression of gratitude and admiration for the men who perished for the sake of the Union. They do not need our praise. They do not need that our admiration should sustain them. There is no immortality that is safer than theirs. We come not for their sakes but for our own, in order that we may drink at the same springs of inspiration from which they themselves selves drank.

A peculiar privilege came to the men who fought for the Union. There is no other civil war in history, ladies and gentlemen, the stings of which were removed before the men who did the fighting passed from the stage of life. So that we owe these men something more than a legal reëstablishment of the Union. We owe them the spiritual reëstablishment of the Union as well; for they not only reunited States, they reunited the spirits of men. That is their unique achievement, unexampled anywhere else in the annals of mankind, that the very men whom they overcame in battle join in praise and gratitude that the Union was saved. There is something peculiarly beautiful and peculiarly touching about that. Whenever a man who is still trying to devote himself to the service of the Nation comes into a presence like this, or into a place like this, his spirit must be peculiarly moved. A mandate is laid upon him which seems to speak from the very graves themselves. Those who serve this Nation, whether in peace or in war, should serve it without thought of themselves. I can never speak in praise of war, ladies and gentlemen; you would not desire me to do so. But there is this peculiar distinction belonging to the soldier, that he goes into an enterprise out of which he himself cannot get anything at all. He is giving everything that he hath, even his life, in order that others may live, not in order that he himself may obtain gain and prosperity. And just so soon as the tasks of peace are performed in the same spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion, peace societies will not be necessary. The very organization and spirit of society will be a guaranty of peace.

Therefore this peculiar thing comes about, that we can stand here and praise the memory of these soldiers in the interest of peace. They set us the example of self-sacrifice, which if followed in peace will make it unnecessary that men should follow war any more.

We are reputed to be somewhat careless in our discrimination between words in the use of the English language, and yet it is interesting to note that there are some words about which we are very careful. We bestow the adjective "great" somewhat indiscriminately. A man who has made conquest of his fellow-men for his own gain may display such genius in war, such uncommon qualities of organization and leadership that we may call him "great," but there is a word which we reserve for men of another kind and about which we are very careful; that is the word "noble." We never call a man "noble" who serves only himself; and if you will look about through all the nations of the world upon the statues that men have erected—upon the inscribed tablets where they have wished to keep alive the memory of the citizens whom they desire most to honor—you will find that almost without exception they have erected the statue to those who had a splendid surplus of energy and devotion to spend upon their fellow-men. Nobility exists in America without patent. We have no House of Lords, but we have a house of fame to which we elevate those who are the noble men of our race, who, forgetful of themselves, study and serve the public interest, who have the courage to face any number and any kind of adversary, to speak what in their hearts they believe to be the truth.

We admire physical courage, but we admire above all things else moral courage. I believe that soldiers will bear me out in saying that both come in time of battle. I take it that the moral courage comes in going into the battle, and the physical courage in staying in. There are battles which are just as hard to go into and just as hard to stay in as the battles of arms, and if the man will but stay and think never of himself there will come a time of grateful recollection when men will speak of him not only with admiration but with that which goes deeper, with affection and with reverence.

So that this flag calls upon us daily for service, and the more quiet and self-denying the service the greater the glory of the flag. We are dedicated to freedom, and that freedom means the freedom of the human spirit. All free spirits ought to congregate on an occasion like this to do homage to the greatness of America as illustrated by the greatness of her sons.

It has been a privilege, ladies and gentlemen, to come and say these simple words, which I am sure are merely putting your thought into language. I thank you for the opportunity to lay this little wreath of mine upon these consecrated graves.

Time Posted: May 25, 2020 at 10:14 AM Permalink to Memorial Day Permalink
Chris Corley
May 21, 2020 | Chris Corley

National Chardonnay Day | A Celebration of Two Chardonnays from our Napa Valley Estate

Today, we collectively celebrate National Chardonnay Day! One of the most enjoyable winemaking aspects of Chardonnay is its malleability as a winegrape. It is quite an adaptable grape variety, and can thrive in a number of varied fermentation and aging techniques. As long as these techniques are used in balance, we find Chardonnay to be one of the most enjoyable grapes to work with each vintage, and certainly one of our favorites to enjoy throughout the year.

In this post, we're going to focus on our two primary Chardonnay offerings from the Monticello Estate …

CORLEY Chardonnay 'Monticello Vineyard, Block 3, Clone 95' 2018

This is a special single vineyard, single block, single clone Chardonnay that is grown on our estate vineyard here in Oak Knoll District. The selection of Clone 95 is grown in just 14 rows, and produces a limited amount of grapes. In 2018, we employed two different pressing techniques. With half of the batch, we whole cluster pressed the grapes, resulting in lighter and fresher, more fruit forward aromas, and a softer texture on the palate. With the other half of the batch, we soaked the grapes on their skins for 12 hours before pressing, to extract deeper, richer aroma compounds and richer, more viscous texture on the palate. The two lots were both fermented with the native yeasts that came in from the vineyards.

The juice was fermented in a medley of French Oak and Acacia barrels, Concrete Egg, and Stainless Steel. Each of these fermentation vessels imparts a different character on the resulting wine. The fermentation from the French Oak barrel has wonderful and rich oak characteristics on the nose, and also on the palate, and had excellent length on the finish. The fermentation in the Acacia barrel resulted in a complex balance of bright, blond wood aromas and slightly more lean texture on the palate than the oak. The fermentation from the Concrete Egg displayed a fantastic richness on the midpalate, more fat on the midpalate from the movement of the lees during fermentation due to the egg-shaped tank, and an excellent mineral, stony tone on the finish from the interaction with the concrete. The fermentation in Stainless Steel yielded a wine that was fresh, with more citrus notes and a brighter, leaner tone on the palate.

Our CORLEY Chardonnay 'Single Block, Single Clone' offerings tend to be full bodied expressions of individual sections and plantings on our Estate. They are full in texture and finish, and typically have a higher percentage of new oak and increased malolactic fermentation, giving the wine more richness on the midpalate and more full finish.

MONTICELLO Chardonnay ‘Estate Grown, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley' 2017

This wine is a blend of blocks and clones, all grown within the Monticello Estate. Our current Chardonnay blocks include Block 3 / Clone 95, and Block 1 / Clone 96. We also have additional blocks under development. With the MONTICELLO Chardonnay offering, my aim is to express the whole of our Chardonnay on the estate. Similar to the CORLEY offering, we employ multiple pressing techniques to create different expressions of each of the two blocks and clones.

The MONTICELLO Estate Chardonnay is fermented and aged in French Oak Barrels and Stainless Steel as well, at a ratio of roughly ½ French Oak Barrels,1/2 Stainless Steel. This ratio, in combination with a lower level of malolactic fermentation results in a wine that has a little more citrus influence on the nose and also on the palate, but still maintains some wonderful, riper tropical fruit tones. The oak is not as pronounced in this wine, and is rather a background characteristic, intended to frame the natural fruit. The fermentation in the stainless steel tanks is cool, slow and long, resulting in a wonderfully aromatic and somewhat fresh style of Chardonnay, ideal for blending with the components from the barrels.

Our MONTICELLO Chardonnay ‘Estate Grown’ offerings tend to be medium-bodied expressions of the collective plantings on our Estate. They are more moderate in texture, and typically have a more modest percentage of new oak (25%-30%) and modest levels of malolactic fermentation (25%-30%), giving the wine a slightly brighter, yet balanced, aspect.

If you are interested in either of our Chardonnays, please visit our Wines page at, where you can find more information about these special wines! Or if you prefer, you can call us at (707) 253-2802 and we will be pleased to assist you!

Time Posted: May 21, 2020 at 8:04 AM Permalink to National Chardonnay Day | A Celebration of Two Chardonnays from our Napa Valley Estate Permalink
Chris Corley
May 19, 2020 | Chris Corley

A Deep Cup | Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company's Monticello Blend

When we were kids growing up in St. Helena in the 80s, there was an old blue cinder block building on the corner of Oak and Adams, across the street from the Carnegie Building. It was an old laundry business, and just a few blocks from the street I grew up on. I skateboarded by that old laundry building almost daily on my way into to town to meet friends. It was kind of a faded blue-gray color, paint peeling in some areas. I remember some dried weeds growing around the edges of the building, so landscaping seemingly was not a priority at that time. I don’t even remember if it was a functioning business or a remnant, I guess teenagers on skateboards don’t always remember those kind of details. I never had the need to launder any of my garments in there, so probably didn’t pay much attention to that. I do remember the building though, and even as a kid back then in a sleepy town, the building always had an aura of a past time.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of my lifelong friend’s dads, Leon Sange, started up a coffee business, The Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company. His first location was in a beautiful Victorian building in downtown Napa. His second location was in renovated old laundry building in St. Helena. For those of us who remember that old laundry building, it remains a vibrant transition. Leon was a great guy, one of the good guys, one of the best. He smiled widely, laughed boisterously, and lived fully. He radiated good energy. His Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company became and remains primary watering holes at both ends of the Napa Valley, in St. Helena and in Napa. My lifelong friend, Ben Sange (Leon’s son) owns and operates the coffee company now. He does the roasting himself, he’s not just an owner, he’s a maker too. Ben’s brother Charlie, another good friend, has also invested a lot of his time and energy into the business over the years. They are a small town, multi-generational family coffee roasting company. Their two coffee houses are places where people of all ages congregate, and they’ve expanded their offerings over time from their wonderful home-roasted coffees to all sorts of snacks, small bites and other drinks.

Some years ago, we were very happy to be able to work with them to develop our own special Monticello Blend. This is a coffee that we have enjoyed for many years, and served at countless dinners and events in our Jefferson House on the Monticello Estate. Our blend is 40% Guatemalan (light roast), 20% Colombian (lighter roast), 20% Natural Ethiopian (medium roast), 20% French (dark roast). The French is made up of Washed Ethiopian, Mexican and Sumatra. It is a complex blend, and full of interesting aromas and flavors. I find nutty and cocoa aromas, hazelnut very nicely integrated with spicy aromas of clove and cinnamon. I find dark sweet aromas and flavors of brown sugar, dark chocolate and molasses. In the background, I find some dark berry tones of blackberry and blueberry. The roast is wonderful, and on the palate the coffee has a mellow richness that is perfect for the early morning or after dinner.

In our May 2020 Wine Club shipment, we included a small bag of our Monticello Blend for all of our wine club members. It is a small gesture of gratitude for us to share a few cups of coffee with you. Supporting our friends and local businesses during this time is very important to us as well. We hope you enjoy our Monticello Blend from the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company.

You can purchase our Monticello Blend Coffee directly on our website at : Monticello Blend Coffee

For more information about Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, please visit : Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company

Time Posted: May 19, 2020 at 6:37 AM Permalink to A Deep Cup | Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company's Monticello Blend Permalink

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