It’s not much wine but it will do. One barrel of 2006 Sauvignon Blanc and 11 barrels of 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, but that’s enough to get Celia Welch Masyczek’s new label, Corra, off the ground.
I consider Masyczek one of California’s best winemakers. Her résumé as a consultant is proof of that (and she prefers that role since she’s also the mother of two and likes the individual challenges different vineyards provide). But unlike some of the other superconsultants, she hasn’t yet garnered the attention she merits because she is shy and sticks to her job of winemaking, not wine or winery promotion.
Corra is the Celtic goddess of prophecy, which often appeared in the form of a crane, and the name celebrates Masyczek’s Irish heritage. Her Corra label features a crane lifting off the ground, symbolic of her taking off.
While Corra is new for Masyczek, it’s a logical extension for the U.C. Davis grad who has a distinguished 26-year winemaking career, mostly helping others make better wines. It has taken her to Atlanta, where in the 1980s she worked briefly for Ed Friedrich of Chateau Elan, the Barossa Valley and work with Shiraz, and then to her current home in Napa Valley, where she has worked as a consultant for Staglin, Hartwell, Keever (where she makes her wine), D.R. Stephens, Rocca and the current cult sweetheart Scarecrow, which had a 96-point rating for its stunning 2004 Cabernet.
Masyczek’s Cabernet comes from Beckstoffer Vineyard IV in west St. Helena and it’s 100 percent Cabernet, grown on rocky soils near Sulphur Creek. “All of the best wines I’ve made have been 100 percent Cabernet,” she said, “and with this wine I’m trying to capture the flavor of the vineyard.”
I’ve tried two bottles of the 2004 ($125, 290 cases), both with her and in separate blind tastings, and it’s a great debut. Supple, graceful and polished, it exhibits layers of dried currant, herb and green olive and loamy earth, with fine-grained tannins. It isn’t as rich or opulent as say the Scarecrow 2004, or even the 2004 Spottswoode, which is grown nearby Beckstoffer IV. But it’s elegant and harmonious, and shares a similar weight and body to the Beringer Home Vineyard Private Reserve Cabernet, another St. Helena Vineyard.
So while her first Corra Cabernet is a success, and has room to improve, both the 2005 and 2006 show similar promise. The bottled 2005 is a year from release, but typical of the vintage in that it’s sleek, refined, elegant and well-balanced. The 2006, sampled from a barrel, was the most impressive wine—and they often are, since they offer the purest expression of fruit. Dark, rich, concentrated and structured, it should be a beauty.
You won’t have many opportunities to try the dry, flinty, citrus and minerally Graves-like 2006 Sauvignon Blanc ($25, 30 cases), from Oakville. But with 2007, which tasted rich and complex out of barrel, production rises to 270 cases.
There’s no website up and running yet for Corra—Masyczek’s been too busy putting the 2007 vintage to barrel—but you can sign up for the mailing list at corrawines.com.
John Wilen — Texas — November 16, 2007 3:26pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — November 16, 2007 11:15pm ET
Todd Storch — TX — November 27, 2007 4:11pm ET
Brian — costa mesa, ca — November 28, 2007 4:12am ET
Peter Pham — November 29, 2007 3:11am ET
Steve Scorzetti — December 1, 2007 6:49pm ET
Carl Tiedemann — Elkhart,IN — December 22, 2007 9:28am ET
David S Rogers Md — January 24, 2008 3:29pm ET
John Gavin — CA — January 25, 2008 3:10pm ET
William Diaz — Jackson N.J. — June 14, 2008 1:57am ET
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