The Corley family has been involved in the Napa wine business since 1969 when Jay Corley turned his master’s degree thesis at Pepperdine University on starting a winery in Napa Valley into a reality. Born and raised in Chicago but with family roots in Virginia, Jay identified profoundly with founding father and fellow wine lover Thomas Jefferson. As such, when he founded his vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa, he named it Monticello. In keeping with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the architecture of Corley’s Monticello follows the style of Andrea Palladio.
Jay’s vision to produce world-class Burgundian-style wine in Oak Knoll led him to plant chardonnay and pinot noir. But when it came time to incorporate cabernet sauvignon, he purchased fruit from other vineyards in the area. In 1982 he began purchasing cabernet sauvignon from a vineyard in Yountville. The vineyard was on State Lane so he referred to it as the “State Lane Vineyard” and when Corley acquired the vineyard outright in the mid-1980s the name just stuck.
The cigar in this pairing is the Plasencia Alma de Fuego. It wasn’t chosen for the pairing for any sort of stylistic reason, it was chosen because it paired exceptionally well with the 2015 Corley State Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It is made in Estelí, Nicaragua by the Plasencia family and incorporates tobacco from the volcanic island of Ometepe.
Plasencia Alma de Fuego
This is not a wine you just pull the cork from and start drinking. The difference between your first sip right out of the gate and the sip you take after decanting the 2015 Corley State Lane Cab for an hour is astonishingly different. The decanted Corley is silky and rich with tons of ripe blackberry and cassis balanced by oak and well-structured tannins. And when you fire up the Plasencia Alma de Fuego, the cigar’s earth and pepper fill in gaps you didn’t know existed before and introduce dark chocolate to your palate. The combination of the wine’s blackberry and the cigar’s dark chocolate make for a uniquely delicious combination.
Photography by: Andy Astencio
Location: Galiano Cigar Room, Coral Gables, Fla.