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Pol Roger Portfolio brings California’s Cornell Vineyards to the UK

California’s Cornell Vineyards is to launch in the UK next week as the producer joins Pol Roger Portfolio, adding to an impressive line-up of top-end US wine estates handled by this agency business.

Pol Roger Portfolio will be the first to supply Cornell’s wines in the UK, with the tie-up starting from 25 April this year.

The Cornell land was cultivated by winemakers from approximately 1850 until the prohibition era. After lying fallow for around 80 years, Henry Cornell bought the 46.5ha parcel in 2000 and established Cornell Vineyards. After over a decade of experimentation, planting, and honing a distinct Sonoma style, Henry and Vanessa Cornell produced their first commercial wine in 2013. Today, their Spring Mountain wines are firmly ensconced in California’s top tier, according to Pol Roger Portfolio.

In 2014, Cornell Vineyards was certified California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), confirming their commitment to organic practices amid the rugged terrain of the Mayacamas, on the western flank of Spring Mountain. The plots and wines sit under the steady hand of Elizabeth Tangney, director of viticulture and winemaking. She is joined by Francoise Peschon, the consulting winemaker, who was named Winemaker of the Year 2021 by Vinous Media.

Now comprising 20ha of cultivated vineyards, the estate is also home to wild spaces and species. An insectary sits by the vineyards. The estate, with its geological diversity, is divided into 20 vineyard blocks according to the soil type, and blends of these plots are decided each year. Coming from ancient sea beds and volcanoes, the soils include volcanic rock, sandstone, shale, cobblestone and loamy clay.

In total, three wines are produced, the Cornell Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Cornell Chardonnay and Courtship Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cornell Vineyards, though technically in Sonoma County, is made in “a distinctly Napa Valley style, with elegant, fruity and powerful characteristics” according to the producer.

Cornell sits alongside Pol Roger Portfolio’s other premium Californian producers, which are: Bryant Estate, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Staglin Family Vineyard, Abreu, Gallica, Kinsman Eades and TOR.

These are found in addition to the agency house’s stable of family-owned producers, including Champagne Pol Roger, Casanova di Neri, Dal Forno Romano, Domaine Vacheron, Maison Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Josmeyer, Bodegas Artadi, and Grand Tokaj as well as Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt.

Vannessa Cornell, proprietor, said of the partnership, “The Cornell wines have found an ideal home in the UK with Pol Roger, an exceptional team championing the world’s most distinctive family-owned producers. We look forward to embarking on this exciting new partnership.”

Will Dennison, head of fine wine at Pol Roger Portfolio, added, “We are thrilled to welcome Cornell into the portfolio; whilst this is our first foray into Sonoma, they represent some of the best mountain fruit wines on Spring Mountain and certainly stand shoulder to shoulder with our Napa peers, if not the greats of California. The shift in Californian wines has been enormous over the last 20 years and the emphasis on site and winemaking has never been greater. It is exciting to find a relatively new and undiscovered gem in California, working with an incredible site which will only grow into its own over the coming years.”

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