One of my biggest regrets in the wine business was not realizing how important our new Steven Kent history was going to be to our company. You probably know that my family is the oldest winemaking family in the country, having made wine continuously since 1854. And while this history means a great deal to me, it is necessarily distant as my involvement in creating it was minimal.
Not so with Steven Kent. My dad and I started the brand with an idea that the Livermore Valley could grow world class Cabernet, and we set about to prove it. I still am...and hopefully will for many years.
We spent about a year tasting our 1996 Cabernet from barrel frequently, trying to determine if that particular wine was good enough to launch not only the brand, but our winemaking philosophy, and our Mission. We decided, finally, that it was. That wine was inky dark, had great dark fruit and chocolate and wood notes, and was very well received by our first customers. It was so well received, in fact, that nearly every bottle was sold. And that is where the regret comes in.
We didn't keep enough of it in our Library so that we could see how the wine progresses over a very long time-frame.
I had the opportunity to taste the 1996 again a few days ago as part of an auction lot that we donated. The wine was still youthful: showing somewhat more dark cherry notes than I remember, but still having that great mid-palate structure, tannins on the finish, and indescribable notes that 10 years in bottle bring.
Everything is terrific with the 1996; it has many more years of life ahead of it, it tastes wonderfully now; it warms the emotional cockles of my heart. Oh, one bad thing...we don't have enough of it left.