So life's year begins and closes;
Days though shortening still can shine;
What though youth gave love and roses;
Age still leaves us friends and wine." …… Thomas Moore
Have you ever become bedazzled by a new acquaintance, perhaps someone with a little foreign mystery? If you’re human enough to understand infatuation, perhaps you’re also honest enough to remember taking for granted an old friend during that infatuation. That’s why I was so happy to pour for Kenwood Vineyards in early September at Binny’s “Taste at the Track” and then visit the vineyard in October. Everyone knows Kenwood. We’re old friends. But the world has become awash in wines from all over the globe. Pouring for Kenwood at the September event, and visiting the vineyard gave us a chance to re-bond, and it’s a friendship I’ll no longer take for granted.
|Pat Henderson, Sr. Winemaker, shows me the grape sampling |
from 5 vineyards and explains how to judge readiness for picking.
I’m happy for that because Kenwood truly has been a loyal friend throughout; consistently producing superior wines at each price level. Proof of that is in the vineyards’ history of collecting so many “Winery of the Year” medals for value. The winery offers nine white wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurz, Moscato and a sparkling wine. The red list contains Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Zins and Cabs equaling nine more. Two whites (a Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay) comprise a separate offering of “Reserve Wines.” This is matched by an additional offering of “Reserve Reds” that include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zin and Cabernet Sauvignons. Prices range from $6 retail to $75, with substantial discounts for club members.
|In the lab checking the brix|
I visited the winery later in the day, and the October weather was just a little cool; enough to drive up my taste for reds. I enjoyed a 2009 Sonoma County Merlot ($12 - $14 retail) and happily sipped raspberry and plum with notes of chocolate and oak in a medium-rich mouth feel with soft tannins and a balanced finish. The wine is aged for 20 months in French and American oak. I’m still amazed that such a quality is available at such a price.
Still in Merlot, I tasted the 2009 Jack London label. It spends two additional months in oak. Grapes for this series are from vineyards exclusively leased by Kenwood and located above the fog belt in the Sonoma Valley. Cool nights assure long hang time and fruit that develops intensity. The wine is more structured and offers additional notes of plum and fig with a hint of licorice. Value speaks for itself with retail prices averaging $20-$22.
|A look into Kenwood's Library, seldom opened. My thanks to |
"Hutch" (Tour Guide Extraordinaire).
Another branch on the merlot tree can be enjoyed with Kenwood’s 2009 Reserve Merlot. Unlike the two above, which contain 4% and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon respectively, the reserve is 100% merlot. As with the other wines it is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to develop fruit. The reserve then ages for 21 months in 100% French oak to develop a rich profile that provides raspberry, plum and white pepper. It’s priced the same as the Jack London.
|Sonoma County Merlot & Cab|
|"Cheers!" (The Mizer)|
|2007 Artist Series|
For “everyday” or “special occasion/gift wine,” and whatever your budget, Kenwood offers wines at each price point that offer exceptional value. In an economy where “box wines” are getting attention, value is often taken to simply mean low price. Fortunately for lovers of good wine, Kenwood has never confused the issue. Whether it’s a wine labeled as a Sonoma County or an Artist Series, the juice inside the bottle will be hard to match for quality and taste.
* Visit facebook.com/winemizer for mini-tips on wine & food
9592 Sonoma Hwy
Kenwood, CA 95452-0447
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