Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Steven Kent wine release

Yesterday was a fun day, because Steven Kent released the 2004 vintage of his club wine, Vincere (Vincere is the verb "to win" in Italian). Vincere is a super tuscan blend of two varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Cabernet is a very popular American varietal, and Sangiovese is the predominant grape used for Italian Chianti (Tuscany).

The history of super tuscan wines is kind of interesting. Like other European countries, Italy very closely controls the naming and classification of wines from the different, authorized sub-regions in Italy. Becuase Cabernet is an imported grape, Italian wineries were required to label them "table wines". It was kind of tough for them to sell $50 bottles of table wine, regardless of quality. Luckily, the IGT came along and created a new category of wines which don't have the certified region stamp on them, but instead receive a form of quality endorsement. It's not cheap (~$75), but if you want to try one of the best super-tuscans out there, try the Antinori 2003 Tignanello. A few other Italian wines I really enjoy are:

The history of Steven Kent is equally interesting. The winemaker, Steven Kent Mirassou, is descended from one of the longest-established winery families in America. The Mirassou's are descendants of French brothers Louis and Pierre Pellier, who brought the first Pinot Noir grapes (and prunes & plums) to California in the 1850s and planted them in what is now Santa Clara County. The Mirassou family sold its brand name to E. & J. Gallo Winery of Modesto in 2002. So, the Mirassou wines you see in your local grocery store are not related to the original Mirassou family.

Steven's release this year is a blend of 55% Sangiovese and 45% Cabernet from the Home Ranch vineyard in Livermore. He produces around 400 cases of Vincere each year. It was drinking nicely yesterday after having breathed for a while. But, after opening a 2003 a couple of weeks ago, I think I'll let mine lie down for a year before opening. I would recommend pairing it with something like pasta with a slightly spicy red sauce.

BTW, Steven also has a great tradition of using a work of art as the original for each of his club wine labels. Some of the labels have been created by his kids, others by artists on canvas. A few originals are displayed in the barrel room where their tasting room is located. Check them out if you're there. Click on the Vincere logo below and you can see some of his other labels.

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