05 August 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Wooed by Wine from Livermore

20130601_142734Two things:

  1. In my short time of being a lifelong student of wine, I’ve never thought about wine tasting in Livermore
  2. Until two months ago, I hadn’t yet heard of Steven Kent Winery or La Rochelle

These two things, I’ve officially marked as tragic, but these two things have changed. Permanently, and for the better.

I can attest that a great time was had by all* meeting and speaking with Steven during the time that we were there. By the time we concluded the tasting, I was in disbelief that such great wines, and such historic vineyards, could be so. darn. close. to where I lived (currently San Jose). Needless to say, I have to now schedule a full weekend of tasting in Livermore Valley, simply to see if other can live up to what I experienced with Steven Kent Winery and La Rochelle. Oh, I so hope my wishes of joyous wine experiences come true!

20130601_130245The scoop: The wines from these two wineries don’t immediately fall within the regular qualifications I use to write about wines. There’s no new flavor or aroma, the labels are attractive and appropriate within the industry (in fact, the SKW label strikes me more as an advertising style logo than wine, but what the hell do I know?), the tasting rooms were great (the views were beautiful, the staff was great, and there were oven-fired pizzas the day we were there- yum!), and these varieties are all ones you’ve heard of before. No, instead, I’m writing about these wines and the wineries because this area – Livermore – is California’s oldest wine growing region, and THAT HISTORY makes this area stand out. It’s the history of Steven’s family bringing the first Mourvedre (and possible Pinot Noir) vines here in the late 1800s that makes this a story to know a bit about. It’s also important (to me, at least) to note that these two wineries each produce about 5,000 cases, so we need to make sure that we support the boutique winemakers!

The score: Most wines ended up in the 4 out of 5 range, and you’ll see that below. Overall, the quality was so good across the board, I had to post all my notes so you could see for yourself that these wineries need to be placed on your list!

20130601_142722The nerdy notes: strap on your reading rocket boots – we tasted A LOT of wines, and I was not disappointed!

2009 La Rochelle Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine, Methode Champenoise McIntyre Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, 13.8% alc., $34
score: 4 out of 5
n: beautiful creamy nose, slight creamy brie note
t: very light bubbles, slight Meyer lemon note, beautiful

2011 Steven Kent Merrillie Chardonnay Landucci Block Livermore Valley, 14.6% alc, $34
score: 4+/5 out of 5 – wowza!
n: slight toasty oak, beautiful Meyer lemon, “I really just want to huff this for a while”, ruby red grapefruit
t: nice body, good acid, Meyer lemon and SweetTart tartness, nice long finish, grapefruit note

2010 La Rochelle Dutton-Morelli Russian River Valley $65
score: 3+ out of 5
n: lighter/thinner than Merrille, slight reductive, slight grassy note/hay
t: thinner, tart, regular lemon, nice finish, much better paired w/ fod (brie + toasts)

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley, $65
score: 3+ out of 5
n: gravenstein apple, moderate diacetyl and banana note
t: diacetyl, fennel, long finish, slight bell pepper note, nice acidity

2010 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands, 14.6% alc., $75
score: 4 out of 5
n: warm, bright cherry and tobacco and black tea notes, slight lemon note upon opening
t: warm baked cherry pie, moderate to long finish, nice acid and tannin structure, rich

2010 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Donum Estate Vineyard Carneros, 14.6% alc., $75
score: 5 out of 5 – FOLKS, WE HAVE A WINNER HERE!!
n: nice forward fruit, flint/pencil lead, slight raspberry and fig, slight shitake and redwood forest floor
t: slight smoke, warmth to the fruit and supple, long finish, light black cherry

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow
score: 4 out of 5
n: ripe amazing note, black cherry, redwood, tobacco and black tea
t: moderate tannin but not aggressive, really ripe blackberry and black cherry and pits

2010 Steven Kent The Premier Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley 14.3% alc., $100
score: 4 out of 5
n: cassis, black tea, deep tones, slight mint on back note, cedar box, black cherry (overripe)
t: fig and baking spice

2010 Steven Kent Cabernet Franc Ghielmetti Vineyard Livermore Valley
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: black pepper, bell pepper note, sweet oak notes, anise and fennel
t: moderate tannins, black pepper, black olive (brine hint), moderate tannin structure, walnut

2010 Steven Kent Merlot Ghielmetti Vineyard Livermore Valley
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: black pepper, cassis, deep notes, toasty oak, fig
t: warm, mild oak notes, slightly underripe blackberry

2009 Lineage (27% Merlot, Cab Sauv)
score: 4 out of 5
n: cassis, black tea, slight asphalt, sweet oak notes (vanilla hint)
t: long finish, nose notes carry through here, sage, basil

2010 Lineage (15% Merlot, 65% Cab Sauv, 16% Cab Franc)
score: 4 out of 5
n: sage, fruit forward, slight minerality, black pepper
t: cassis, tea, nice vanilla note from oak, mild to moderate tannins, black cherry

Library tasting – now we’re really nerding out with Steven, and I really counted myself luck at this point :)
2006 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, 15.8% alc.
score: 4 out of 5
n: big! fig and slightly smokey, slight blueberry, Rhone-like personality and worthy of a cocktail

2006 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Gary’s Vineyard
score: 4 out of 5
n: forest floor, sage, eucalyptus
t: forest floor, sage, eucalyptus plus nice full, long finish, redwood, cherry and raspberry

2005 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow
score: 4 out of 5
n: ripe raspberry and fig, black tea
t: nice, full ripe fruit, subtle, complex and slight yeast, will knock you out of your chair with how age worthy this still is

*With full disclosure, the tasting I”m about to write up was part of an organized tasting I attended with Luscious LushesJames the Wine Guy, and BrixChicks. I was the “baby” in the group when it comes to amount of time or amount of posts written, and I was totally okay with that.

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