Monday, June 8, 2009

Tasting Note: 2001 Single Vineyard Series Cabernets

The Steven Kent team had a great experience last Saturday with two older wines. Being a young company with only about 10 vintages behind us, we still don't really know how long-lived our wines can be. So when we taste a wine that is eight years old and is only now beginning to drink the way it should, we get pretty excited.

The 2001 vintage was one of the best recent vintages for California Cabernet, and we released a trio of wines from three different sites under our Single Vineyard Series program. The best barrels from the Folkendt, Home Ranch, and Block D vineyards were chosen for our inaugural offering.

After our Release Celebration for Radius IV, we opened the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon - Folkendt Vineyard and Home Ranch Vineyard wines. The Folkendt (much as I remember) was huge, with very rich aromas of black fruit, graphite, spicy oak, and semi-sweet chocolate. In the mouth, the wine had tannin from entry forward, a wonderfully viscous mid-palate with coffee and chocolate flavors predominating. On the extremely long finish, the black fruit, non-fruit flavors, and tannin all conspired to produce a very delicious, very youthful effect.

The Importance of Richness

One of the most significant characteristics a Steven Kent Cabernet can possess is a sense of richness. More important than tannin by itself, the richness (or viscosity) of the wine signals, to me, the capacity for the wine to evolve positively over the course of its life. Tannins, without the mid-palate richness that the best Steven Kent cabs have, will only age out to thinness, becoming strident in their maturity.

The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon - Home Ranch was also a revelation. Showing less of the characteristic mintiness that the new Home Ranch release contains, the wine had an opulent nose of black raspberry, cassis, milk chocolate, and nicely integrated wood. Similar to the Folkendt, this wine's mid-palate was gorgeously round with an emphasis on slightly less dark fruit and only a hint of the graphite that defines the Folkendt. This wine, too, finished with terrific structural tannins enveloped in ripe fruit.

If you were able to get one of the 100 six-packs we produced in this vintage, there is no need to choose favorites; enjoy them all. I won't choose either. Both wines showed great youth and even greater promise for 7-10 years of additional growth.

Just an addendum...We had the occasion today to open the third wine of the triumvirate...the Steven Kent Vineyard, D Block. Again, a very big wine up front. Intense earthy aromas with Kalamata olives and baked bread notes. In the mouth the wine's fruit was redder than in the other two wines while also picking up a little brandied quality that usually signifies age. The tannins are abundant and the finish is long, but this wine is not holding up as well as the other two. I would drink this wine now.

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