Posts tagged ‘La Rochelle’

Steven Kent and La Rochelle Wineries

 

These reviews are based on samples provided by the winery or another company acting on their behalf.  Prices noted are the Suggested Retail Prices.

 

Over the last month, I have had the extreme pleasure of tasting through a dozen different wines from the Steven Kent and La Rochelle wineries.  Every wine has been outstanding and distinctive.  These aren’t the cookie-cutter wines being offered by some of the larger wineries in the world.  Every wine shows the distinct terroir of the vintage, region, and vineyard from where they originated.  Generally these are wines that taste good now with some aeration, but have the balance and all the key ingredients to age and improve with extended cellar time.

 

The wines, though above some people’s normal price points, are reasonably priced based on their level of quality.  These are small, limited production wines, most are produced in quantities under 100 cases.

 

I highly recommend these wines.  The winery also has a number of wine clubs that can guarantee you an allocation of the wines at discounted prices and offer other benefits.  Visit the website for more information.

 

 

 

The Steven Kent Winery Was Born.

In 2005, Steven joined forces with the Ghielmetti family who owned a spectacular vineyard site about three miles east of the winery.  The site was planted to Bordeaux and Rhône varieties, many of which he used to make small-lot releases for his burgeoning wine clubs.  Steven realized in 2007, though, that the farther he went down this path, the further away he’d be from the vision with which he started in the business – to make a single, great, statement wine.

 

Lineage—our Livermore Valley Red Wine—then, is the renaissance of that need to have the effort mean something; for the wine to be a symbol of the passion to create something of great quality, an emblem of one family’s generations-long commitment to the grape.

 

Also in 2005, Steven found an opportunity to close a circle.  His cousins, who had earlier sold the Mirassou brand to Gallo, had started a brand called La Rochelle, named for the town north of Bordeaux from which their progenitor had come to America in 1854.  La Rochelle had an amazingly talented winemaker, Tom Stutz, and a portfolio of wines whose only focus was family vineyard fruit from Monterey.  Steven acquired the brand and brought it and Tom up to Livermore with a new focus on Pinot Noir.  Seven years later, La Rochelle is making some of the best Pinot Noirs (and a newly released, small-lot production focus on Chardonnay) in California.

 

Much more information, links to the wineries, and purchasing information is available at their website.

 

 

Steven has a very nice blog here – Steven’s Blog.

 

 

 

Steven Kent Winery Info

“Steven Kent is producing today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets, wines that hearken back to the valley’s roots as one of California’s best wine regions.” – Wine Enthusiast

 

The Steven Kent Winery was started in 1996 with one mission: to make Cabernet here in the Livermore Valley that rivals in quality the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world.

 

Livermore Valley has a long, dedicated history of growing the “Bordeaux” varietals, and in particular Cabernet Sauvignon.  In the 1880s, pioneering winegrowers began to discover the potential of the Livermore Valley region.  Then, as today, L.V.’s climate and soils closely resemble those of Bordeaux’s famed left bank of the Gironde.  By the turn of the last century, Livermore Valley was already far ahead of its Napa Valley neighbor in specializing in the Bordeaux varieties.  Our goal at Steven Kent is to carry on that tradition.

 

“We have worked joyously and strenuously to know our vineyards; to learn how our fruit expresses itself from those sites; to discover the best winemaking and barrel regimens that translates those grapes into world-class vintages.  We’re very gratified that customers, critics, and collectors alike consider our “historic Cabernet” to be an essential addition to their table, their “best of lists,” and their cellars”.  – Steven Kent Mirassou

 

More information is available at their website.

 

 

La Rochelle Info

Our mission at La Rochelle is a simple one:  to make California’s best, most interesting, most collectable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

 

My family introduced the Pinot Noir grape to California in the 1850s.  Today, we partner with the state’s most renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards – Garys’. Sleepy Hollow. Rosella’s. Londer. Paraiso. Tondre. Ferrington. Deer Park.  We craft Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown on these famed estates that let the individual vineyard’s terroir, its special sense of place, shine through.

 

My great-great-great grandfather left the French port of La Rochelle one hundred and sixty years ago on a voyage of possibilities.  Our journey at La Rochelle Winery is an equally exciting one:  to discover the best vineyards and translate those exceptional estates into limited releases worthy of our heritage.

 

Steven Kent Mirassou

 

 

La Rochelle Winemaker, Tom Stutz also has a blog – Tom’s Blog.

 

 

Much more information is available on La Rochelle wine at their website.

 

 

 

 

To check availability or to purchase any of these wine or other wines offered by the wineries in the Steven Kent Portfolio, visit their website.

 

 

 

The lineup:

SKW Lineup

 

 

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Block A – $48.00

 

Wine Information

This 100% Pinot Noir was aged 26 months in 45% new oak and 55% second use.  The barrels were 74% French and 26% American.

 

The vineyard is one of the most northerly sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  The vineyard has been a source of fruit to La Rochelle since 2003, and provided fruit to the family’s Mirassou Vineyards label for close to 20 years before that time.  This is generally one of the “bigger” Pinot Noirs produced by the winery.

 

The final alcohol is 14.7% and production was 11 barrels.

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby red color.  The very inviting nose has black cherries, raspberries, warmed baking spices, earthy underbrush, a nice smoky element, cola, minerals, fresh wild flowers, and a touch of pine needles.  This has medium body, soft, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate has a nice helping of darker fruit, spice, and good earthiness.  The wine thins a touch on the finish which is flavorful with nice length.  I think with additional cellar time, the finish will fill out and the wine will develop additional complexity.  (92 pts)

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Block A

 

 

 

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley – $48.00

 

Wine Information

This is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Home Ranch, Ghielmetti Estate, and Folkendt vineyards, as well as a few percent each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

 

The lots were made and aged separately before being blended about six months prior to release.  The wine spent a total of 24 months in 75% new oak barrels.  The barrels were 52% French, 43% American, and 5% Hungarian.

 

The final alcohol is 14.4%

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep ruby red color.  The interesting nose has cassis, cedar, Asian spices, tobacco, black olives, dark chocolate, dried herbs, black cherries, and a touch of earthiness.  This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has nice fruit and spice up front with olives and earthiness coming in on the back end adding nice depth.  The finish has nice length and leans heavily on the savory elements.  This improved a lot with air; initially there was a green bell pepper element that after a couple hours integrated nicely.  (90 pts)

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley

 

 

 

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Folkendt Vineyard – $65.00

 

Wine Information

There were 82 cases produced of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The 4.5 acre vineyard was planted in 1992.

 

The wine was aged 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  As with all their red wines, this was bottled without fining or filtration.

 

The final alcohol is 14.6%.

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The sexy nose has cassis, cedar, melted licorice, dried herbs, black plums, baking spices, dark chocolate, and some black cherry.  This has medium to full body, solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate has solid dark fruit and spice with some dark chocolate and spicy oak in the background.  The finish is long and full of spicy fruit and chocolaty oak.  This really needs a couple years in the cellar to strut its stuff, but tastes nice now with several hours of air.  (93 pts)

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Folkendt Vineyard

 

 

 

2009 Steven Kent Malbec Ghielmetti – $50.00

 

Wine Information

The Ghielmetti Vineyard is a touch under 65 acres and is planted to 11 different grapes on 20 distinct blocks.  This Malbec comes from Block 13, which is comprised of 66 rows and 5,940 vines that were grafted over from Petite Sirah in 2006.  This is the only block of Malbec in the vineyard.

 

The four barrels used in this offering were aged in 100% new oak and yielded a total of only 98 cases of wine.

 

The final alcohol is 14.1%.

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The exotic nose had plums, blackberries, stony minerals, Asian spices, licorice, cedar, charred meat, cherries, dark chocolate, and a touch of vanilla.  The wine has medium to full body, solid tannins, and good acidity.  The palate has big, bold, spicy fruit up front with very nice savory notes coming in on the back end adding considerable depth.  The finish is long and very flavorful with the spicy fruit, cedar, and a touch of dark chocolate slowly adding some cherry.  Very tasty today with some air, but this could use at least a year or two in the cellar.  This was much better on day two.  (94 pts)

2009 Steven Kent Malbec Ghielmetti

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Steven Kent / La Rochelle Tasting

 

 

These wines were provided by Balzac Communications acting on behalf of Steven Kent and La Rochelle Wineries.

 

 

The Lineup

 

 

These wines were tasted as part of the Steven Kent Wines online Twitter tasting on Friday, February 15th.  The notes that follow were compiled first during the event but modified as needed after retasting the bottles again on Saturday.  As expected a few of the larger red wines showed the most improvement on the second day.  Since these wines are priced on the higher side (but very reasonably, in my opinion) it would be best to allow the big reds considerable air or preferably a few years in the cellar.

 

 

Steven Kent Winery and La Rochelle Winery are part of the Steven Kent Portfolio.  Information is available online for Steven Kent Portfolio, Steven Kent Winery, and La Rochelle Winery.

 

 

 

2011 Steven Kent Lola Ghielmetti Vineyard (SRP $24)

 

This is a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon from the Ghielmetti Vineyard in Livermore.

 

Each variety was fermented separately in stainless steel tanks after whole cluster pressing.  After four months in tanks, the final blending was performed and aged a few more months in tanks to help marry the flavors.  The wine did not go through malo-lactic fermentation to help maintain the crisp acidity.

 

The final alcohol is 13.9%.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a golden yellow color with a slight green tint.  The fresh and full of Spring nose has apples, citrus zest, minerals, straw, and some spice.  This has a medium body with crisp acidity.  On the palate the tart apples, lime zest, and a touch of white pepper grab center stage.  Even though it is only 35% of the blend it seems to stand out a bit.  This would be perfect for dinner on the deck or patio on a warm day.  (89 pts)

2011 Steven Kent Lola Ghielmetti Vineyard

 

 

 

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Morelli Lane Dutton Ranch (SRP $65)

 

This 100% Chardonnay was pressed off into stainless steel tanks and allowed to settle for a day or two.  It was then transferred to French oak barrels, 40% new, for fermentation.  The wine underwent malo-lactic fermentation and was aged sur-lie for 18 months in the 40% new French oak.

 

The final alcohol is 14.8%.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep yellow with a slight golden tint.  The very appealing nose has apples, hazelnuts, fresh bread, baking spices, citrus zest, minerals, and a touch of pineapple.  This has medium body and nice acidity.  On the palate the ripe apples, citrus zest, minerals, and spice steal the show.  Watch the serving temperature on this one, it was too bright when a couple degrees cold but became a bit too soft and out of balance when it warmed a bit too much.  (89 pts)

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Morelli Lane Dutton Ranch

 

 

 

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands (SRP $38)

 

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  The vineyards used are Paraiso (31.3%), Sarmento (31.2%), White Sage (12.5%), Tondre Grapefield (12.5%), and Mission Ranch (12.5%).

 

The wine was aged 31 months in 100% French oak, 40% new and 60% second use.

 

The alcohol is 15.2%.

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The dark and enticing nose has cherries, earthy underbrush, wood smoke, cola, minerals, warm baking spices, black raspberries, dark chocolate, and a touch orange zest.  This has medium body, ripe, velvety tannins, and very good acidity.  Earthy cherries, baking spices, and minerals grab the palate initially, slowly allowing some cola, black raspberries, and spicy oak to add considerable depth.  The finish has very nice length with earthy fruit and spice slowly fading away.  This is very young and deserves some cellar time to open and fill out.  This improved greatly on the second day.  (92 pts)

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

 

 

 

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Donum Estate Vineyard – (SRP $75)

 

This 100% Pinot Noir from Donum Ranch in the Carneros region was aged 19 months in 100% French oak, 40% new, for 19 months after being destemmed and crushed into 1 3/4 ton open top bins for fermentation.

 

The final alcohol is 14.6%.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a touch lighter than a medium ruby red color.  The very enticing nose has raspberries, dried sage, eucalyptus, cherries, and some earthiness.  This is barely medium body with soft, ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate is dominated by the cherries, raspberries, and spice, but a touch of earthiness creeps in on the back end.  The finish has nice length but it seemed to get a touch thin.  Drinkable now, but I’m sure some time in the cellar will add some complexity and help fill out the finish a bit.  (90 pts)

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Donum Estate Vineyard

 

 

 

2009 Steven Kent Petit Verdot Ghielmetti – (SRP $50)

 

Petit Verdot is generally used as a blending grape to help add tannins and color to Cabernet Sauvignon wines.  As an experiment, the winery selected their five “best” barrels to bottle and release as a “small lot” offering.  In my opinion, their experiment was a glowing success.

 

This 100% Petit Verdot from the Livermore Valley was aged 18 months in 60% new and 40% second use oak barrels from America and Hungary.  To the winery, the wine aged in the American oak  provided the “most pleasurable combination of structuring elements, flavor/aroma contribution, and forwardness of fruit”.  Total production was only 98 cases.

 

The final alcohol was 14.1%.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark maroon color.  The dark and manly nose has blackberries, cocoa, vanilla, warm baking spices, and some nice earthiness.  This is medium to full body with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  The velvety palate is headed by dark, spicy, earthy berries, with some cocoa coming in on the back end.  The finish is fairly long and a nice continuation of the palate.  The best straight Petit Verdot I have ever had the pleasure to drink.  This wine was very good on the first day but even better on day two.  Some cellar time will be greatly rewarded.  (93 pts)

2009 Steven Kent Petit Verdot Ghielmetti

 

 

 

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch Vineyard – (SRP $65)

 

The Home Ranch in the Livermore Valley was planted in 1996 and is 2.8 acres.

 

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was destemmed and crushed into open top fermenters.  After fermentation, the wine was moved into 100% new American and French oak barrels for 24 months of aging.

 

The final alcohol is 14.2%.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine was a dark ruby to maroon color.  The exotic and very inviting nose has a quick hit of mint accompanied by cassis, dried herbs, smoke, baking spices, minerals, fresh ground espresso, and dark chocolate.  This has medium to full body, solid tannins and good acidity.  The palate was just as inviting as the nose lead me to expect with spicy cassis, mint, and a touch of earthiness leading the way.  The finish was fairly long with a very nice dark, bittersweet chocolate note lingering seemingly forever.  This improved greatly on the second day and deserves some time in the cellar.  (92 pts)

2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch Vineyard

 

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

A Couple of Gems from La Rochelle

 

 

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard (SRP $65.00)

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands (SRP $38.00)

 

(Based on bottles supplied by the winery)

 

 

logo (1)

 

 

La Rochelle chard and pinot

 

 

 

La Rochelle is part of the Steven Kent Portfolio of wine.

 

Our mission at La Rochelle is a simple one:  to make California’s best, most interesting, most collectable Pinot Noir.

 

My family introduced the Pinot Noir grape to California in the 1850s.  Today, we partner with the state’s most renowned Pinot Noir vineyards – Garys’. Sleepy Hollow. Rosella’s. Londer. Paraiso. Tondre. Ferrington. Deer Park.  We craft Pinot Noir grown on these famed estates that let the individual vineyard’s terroir, its special sense of place, shine through.

 

My great-great-great grandfather left the French port of La Rochelle one hundred and sixty years ago on a voyage of possibilities.  Our journey at La Rochelle Winery is an equally exciting one:  to discover the best Pinot Noir vineyards and translate those exceptional estates into limited releases worthy of our heritage.

 

If your passion is Pinot, then your journey has led you to the right place… –  Steven Kent Mirassou

 

 

 

Sign up for the La Rochelle Mailing List

 

 

More Winery Information

 

 

 

2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay Ferrington Vineyard (SRP $65.00)

 

 

Ferrington Vineyard

 

Ferrington Vineyard is home to our only Anderson Valley Chardonnay site as of 2012.  Located near Boonville, on the same side of Hwy 128 as Deer Meadow, Ferrington was originally planted in the late 1960s.  The 70 acre site is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer on decomposed sandstone and clay soils.  In 2010 we entered into a contract to purchase about two tons of Robert Young clone of Chardonnay, and the first vintage yielded just over 100 cases.  Ferrington was purchased by the Schoeneman family in 1997 and it has since become one of the most sought after sites in AndersonValley.  We gained access to Pinot Noir from this site starting in 2012.

 

 

Technical info

The grapes were harvested for this 100% Chardonnay on October 18, 2010.  This was barrel fermented and aged sur-lie for 14 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.

 

The final alcohol is 14.6%.

 

 

Tasting note

The wine is a very light yellow to golden color.  The very exotic and inviting nose has apples, flinty minerals, lemon curd, lime zest, Asian spices, hazelnuts, and a touch of toast.  This has medium body and tart, citrusy acidity.  Bright apples and citrus greet the palate with minerals, spice, hazelnuts pouring in over the top and from all sides.  The finish is very long with the spicy, citrus driven, fruit and spice seeming to never totally fade away, leaving a nutty, lemony note.  This is incredibly young at this time and will improve with some cellar time.  One of the best California Chardonnay wines I’ve ever had the pleasure to drink.  This is stunning.  (95 pts)

Chard

 

 

2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands (SRP $38.00)

 

Santa Lucia Highlands

 

One of the most exciting Pinot Noir appellations in the world, this slender hillside growing area extends roughly 18 miles northwest to southeast in MontereyCounty.  Cooled by wind from the Pacific ocean just a mountain chain to the west and gaining ripening sun from its elevated exposures, the Santa Lucia Highlands is home to some of the most profound Pinots now being made.  La Rochelle works with a number of vineyards spanning the entire length of the appellation.  Each wine we produce has its own special site-driven notes.  They all share, however, the passion of the people who farm them.

 

 

Technical info

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  The vineyards used are Paraiso (31.3%), Sarmento (31.2%), White Sage (12.5%), Tondre Grapefield (12.5%), and Mission Ranch (12.5%).

 

The wine was aged 31 months in 100% French oak, 40% new and 60% second use.

 

The alcohol is 15.2%.

 

Tasting note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The dark and enticing nose has cherries, earthy underbrush, wood smoke, cola, minerals, warm baking spices, black raspberries, dark chocolate, and a touch orange zest.  This has medium body, ripe, velvety tannins, and very good acidity.  Earthy cherries, baking spices, and minerals grab the palate initially, slowly allowing some cola, black raspberries, and spicy oak to add considerable depth.  The finish has very nice length with earthy fruit and spice slowly fading away.  This is very young and deserves some cellar time to open up and fill out.  (92 pts)

Pinot

 

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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