Monday, August 8, 2011

Latest Press for First Lineage Release

The folks at the Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, one of the most veteran and respected critics of California Wine, awarded the 2007 Lineage - By The Steven Kent Winery 3 Puffs or 95 points.

Like other publications, CGCW said Lineage: "ranks as the single best Livermore Valley wine in memory."

Our goal for Lineage - By The Steven Kent Winery is to handcraft a Bordeaux blend that is not only indicative of the level of quality that the Livermore Valley appellation can produce but also to compete head-on in quality with the best wines of its kind from anywhere in the world. We have young vineyards and a lot to learn before we ultimately meet our goals, but our first step has been a very exciting one.

Click to learn more about Lineage - By The Steven Kent Winery, you can also join us at the Winery on August 25th from 7:00-8:00pm to taste the 2008 Lineage (and the 2009 from barrel) - call 925-243-6448 for reservations; and if you are already sure you want to become a Lineage Collector and secure your allocation of this wine (fewer than 125 cases were made in 2008!), click here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

All is Promise, Now

I was out walking around Ghielmetti Vineyard today, and it was just about perfect...75 degrees, just a gentle houghing of a breeze coming from the Bay, the new, green canes knocking innocently against the trellis wires. The sun felt nice on my shoulders; the hares - like lampposts - signaled my way before bounding off between the rows, and the vultures wheeled above me. It all felt new, just like it does every year at this time.

Bloom is over, and the incipient bunches sport little BBs of green. Anthropomorphically, these little balls are our future. Whatever is to come from this year's harvest, whatever memorable vintage, whatever potential greatness will come from these grapes-in-waiting.

All is promise now. And it is good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Madness. But in a Good Way.

Now that the weather has begun to warm up (and dry out!), I can truly start to think that there may be an actual harvest in the Livermore Valley this year. It's a crazy business...full of trepidation, full of hope, by turns fatalistic then wildly optimistic...and that's just the emotional topsy/turvy of one weather report, of one day barrel surfing.

While this madness is part of every blend I make, it is especially virulent with our best wine...Lineage. I've done it to myself, no one else to blame. I've wanted to - and believed we could compete on quality with any Bordeaux blend producer in the world - and when you go about saying this kind of stuff, you got to be able to back it up. There go the nerves again. 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this perverted cha-cha. Though so much rides on each decision I make in the vineyard (each percent of THIS added and THAT taken away, mock blend #1 versus mock blend #20), I tend to look at the hairline fissures of insanity that result as badges of honor. If you're going to spend as much time doing something, you might as well make an impact. As Bruce would say "walk tall, or - baby - don't walk at all."

So each day that goes by is another chance for the world to end. It is also another opportunity for the truth and beauty of this wine to shine through. I'll take my chances. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2009 Lineage - No Turning Back!

Yesterday, we actually put the 2009 Lineage blend together...and there's no turning back. Thankfully, I love this wine. It is a big departure from the first two vintages in terms of percentages of variety, but this is the kind of blend that suits the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard and my own sense of what this wine can evolve into.

Lineage will always be a work in progress: our only goal is to make one of the best red wines in the world...and Mother Nature dictates much of what we have to work with in any given year.

In 2009, we had the best vintage of Merlot from the GEV that we've ever had (2010 is also great). The wine is rich, plush, gorgeously black-cherry in aroma and flavor with spectacular finishing tannin. Not surprisingly, it makes up a much larger portion of the blend than it did in the first two releases. The 2009 wine is:

  • 63% Cabernet Sauvignon (Clone 30)
  • 27% Merlot
  • 5% Malbec
  • 3% Petit Verdot
  • 2% Cabernet Franc

Clone 30 Cabernet is the back-bone of this wine, as it has been since the first wine, and - again - 2009 is spectacular. In fact four of nine barrels are part of the Lineage blend and the other five make up our 2009 Premier Cabernet Selection release.

As it rests now, back in barrel, the 2009 Lineage (there will be just about 150 cases produced) promises to move the quality line another step forward. For more information about becoming a Lineage Collector and insuring yourself an allocation, click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Oakville is home to such wineries as Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Dalla Valle, Far Niente and is described as being THE epicenter for world-class Cabernet in California. Some of these properties produce wines that are available only to those lucky enough or who have persevered long enough to get on the winery's mailing list where they can pay up to $750 per bottle for the estate's best offerings.

I had the occasion to attend the annual tasting of these wines put on by the Oakville Winegrowers Monday at the Robert Mondavi Winery. More than just the opportunity to taste some of these rare wines which I'd never tasted before, I was actually on a spy mission to learn as much as I could in one day about this heralded sub-appellaton and to try as objectively as possible to determine whether it is really possible for Lineage...By The Steven Kent Winery to achieve the level of vinous success that is now granted as a matter of course to Oakville.

After tasting through about 40 wines (some stunning...Futo's blend and Detert Family's Cabernet Franc come to mind; some spectacularly mediocre), and digesting what I had learned about the appellation's terroir in a terrific Master Class held earlier in the day and comparing it to what I know about the Livermore Valley, I can only conclude is MISSION:PROBABLE.  I went today expecting to be knocked back on my heels, tail between my legs...instead I left wondering what the fuss was all about and with that much more confidence in our little appellation (that most don't know about) and our ability to produce a wine of enduring quality and deliciousness.

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Review of Lineage

I had the pleasure recently of sharing a plethora of wines with Virginie Boone, the new wine reviewer for Wine Enthusiast magazine covering the Livermore Valley. She also writes for a cool food and wine website called She had nice things to say about the 2007 release here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 2009 Culling Begins

Ahead of our October component tasting, the process of giving a coherent shape to a collection of hundreds of barrels of 2009 Bordeaux varieties started in earnest this week.

Even at this early stage, I get a sense that Merlot is going to play a much more important role in the final blend than it did in the first two vintages of Lineage. The 2009 vintage was just wonderful, the wine (from Block 9 at Ghielmetti Vineyard) has a great density of black cherry notes and really interesting tannin expression to it.
Befitting a world-class wine with structure and ageability, Cabernet Sauvignon will play the dominant role. Both Clone 30 from Ghielmetti and Clone 8 from the Folkendt Vineyard are showing really well at this time.
We picked Clone 30 twice in 2009, and the differences in density and flavor components are very noticeable in the two wines. The late-pick lot shows great tannin structure all the way through the wine, semi-sweet chocolate and espresso notes, and a wonderful fullness to the mid-palate.

The Folkendt wine (this wine has a great story in that this was the first vineyard we ever used for Steven Kent though our last harvest there, until the past year, was in 2001) is gigantic. Vaguely reminiscent of Clone 191 in its monolithic hugeness, this Cab is all black fruit and tannin...from entry to long finish. 

The process of putting Lineage together starts with Cabernet. The First Step is to determine which Cabernets have the potential to make up the base of the wine. The Second Step is then to pick which specific barrels harmonize the most beautifully. Once that is done, the next steps involve layering in the best barrels of the other varieties. As of this week, I am through Step 2 and moving ahead on Step 3. Next week, I'll let you know where things stand after working through the many mock blends that lay ahead.