AWG Correspondent

Martin D. Redmond

Steven Kent - La Rochelle Barrel Room Photos

Steven Kent - La Rochelle Barrel Room Review

Regions: Livermore Valley AVA, California

Reviewed: August 10, 2013 by Martin D. Redmond
Published: September 18, 2013

Steven Kent winery is owned by Steven Kent Mirassou. The Mirassou family has been growing grapes and making wines in California since 1854. That's when Steven's great-great-great grandfather Pierre Pellier, who sailed from t2010 he Port of La Rochelle, France, arrived in San Jose with wine-grape cuttings from his brother Louis. It was Pellier who introduced Pinot Noir to California. Eventually Pellier's son-in-law, Pierre Mirassou succeeded him and the name of the family winery became known as Mirassou Vineyards, which was ultimately sold to Gallo. Today, Steven Kent Mirassou is the only son with a wine brand.

The Steven Kent Winery is one of approximately sixty wineries in the Livermore Valley, and was started in 1996 with the mission to make Cabernet Sauvignon…in the Livermore Valley that rivals in quality the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world.

The winery sources fruit from five vineyards in close proximity to the winery, including what many consider to be the Livermore Valley's best vineyard, the Ghielmetti Vineyard.

In addition to the Steven Kent Winery, the Steven Kent Portfolioincludes the La Rochelle brand and the Lineage brand, the winery's flagship wine made from the five Bordeaux grape varieties sourced from the Ghielmetti vineyard.

Tasting Experience:  We paid for the $10 “Portfolio Flight” which includes two wines each from Steven Kent and La Rochelle.

The tasting was held in the Barrel Room, a somewhat dimly lit, but tastefully decorated room filled with – you guessed it – barrels! The stand-up tasting is held at a glass-topped wine barrel. The dim lighting can make it a challenge to see the color of the wine in your glass depending on where you’re situated in the room.

Our tasting room attendant was named Catie; she’s been working at the winery since it opened. Catie was knowledgeable, attentive, friendly, and brought some fun to the tasting experience.

Our tasting started out with two selections from the La Rochelle collection. However, after tasting a couple of wines, Catie took us “off menu”. We ended up tasting five additional wines from both the Steven Kent and La Rochelle collection.

Once we went off menu, Catie was very good about differentiating between wines that were available to the public versus wines that are only available to club members. You’ll have to join the wine club if you find a "club member wine" you love. I was tempted because there were a couple of Steven Kent Cabs – the 2010 Premier Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 2009 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon that are outstanding wines. We ended the tasting with another club-only selection, a La Rochelle sparkling Blanc de Noir, which was also excellent (and paired surprisingly well with chocolates that Catie provided).

My tasting notes for the other wines we tasted follow:

- 2012 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Mcintyre Estate Vineyard: Very pale salmon color with cherry, mineral and dried herb aromas. On the palate, it light-bodied, fresh and bone-dry with raspberry, cherry, stone fruit and a hint of bitter citrus rind. Medium finish. 13.4% alcohol. (87 pts.)

- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir – Sonoma Coast: Medium ruby color with cherry, sandalwood aromas. On the palate, it's medium-bodied with raspberry, cranberry, vanilla and spice flavors. Medium finish. 18 months in barrel - 88% New French Oak; 12% American; 50% new. 13.9% alcohol (89 pts.)

- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Block A - Santa Lucia Highlands: Medium ruby color with appealing baked red fruit, baking spice, damp earth, and mineral aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied with a silky texture, a wonderful balanced acidity, and soft tannins. It's shows cherry, raspberry, vanilla and baking spice flavors with a medium-long finish. It ready to drink now but will gain depth and complexity with additional aging (90 pts.)

- 2010 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch Campbell: Medium ruby color with appealing complex aromas of red and purple fruit, pencil eraser, and brown sugar. On the palate it's medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity, light silky tannins and raspberry, cherry, plum, baking spice, and vanilla flavors. Long finish (92 pts.)

- 2010 Steven Kent Merlot Small Lot Ghielmetti: Garnet color with aromatic plum, berry, tobacco, and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it's medium bodied and smooth with soft tannins, and a plush mouth feel. It exhibits plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. 100% Merlot; Aged 22 months in 80% American Oak, 20% American Oak; 60% new. 13.9% alcohol (89 pts.)

- 2010 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark garnet color with appealing and aromatic dark red fruit, violet, eucalyptus, and a hint of mint aromas. On the palate, it's between medium and full-bodied with wonderful acidity. It shows black cherry, cassis, baking spice and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot. Aged 24 months in 52% French Oak, 43% American, 5% Hungarian, 75% New. 13.9% alcohol (91 pts.)

Steven Kent Winery is a great tasting experience because of the opportunity to taste both the Bordeaux varietal-centric Steven Kent wines, and the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay–centric La Rochelle wines; it's an unbeatable combination, and both wineries are making world-class wines!

Insider's tip:  During the summer months, between Memorial Day and the first week of September, the winery offers a patio tasting that’s worth checking out, It costs $10, and you get chance to taste four wines, plus you get to keep the very cool plastic stemless wine glass provided. It’s a chance to get off your feet, and the patio area, which includes metal tables with umbrellas, is very nice.

Address & Contact Information: 5443 Tesla Rd. Livermore, California 94550. Telephone: 925-243-6440, website: Tasting Hours: By appt. 12:00-4:30.

Overall Rating:  

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