Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kenwood Vineyards – Sonoma Valley


After tasting at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyard on Saturday October 22nd, I then drove through Glenn Ellen and on to the Valley of the Moon Trail and visited Kenwood Vineyards.

Kenwood Vineyards was founded in the in Sonoma Valley in 1970 when wine enthusiasts from the San Francisco Bay Area refurbished and modernized the former Pagani Brothers Winery, originally established in 1906. They produce wines from their beautiful twenty-two estate as well as from grapes sourced from some of Sonoma County’s best vineyards in the top wine regions including the fog bathed hills of the Russian River Valley, the hot floors of the Alexander Valley and the red lava soils of Sonoma Mountain. From these diverse locations Kenwood Vineyards’ selection of wines includes classic varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Kenwood Vineyards winery is housed in the original historical winery buildings. However, the interior of the winery has been redesigned to also incorporate modern winemaking methods. More than 125 stainless steel fermenting and upright oak tanks are used in combination with 14,000 French and American Oak barrels, giving the winemaker flexibility and diversity in production.

Kenwood’s portfolio which includes Russian River Pinot Noir, the aromatic Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and the full-bodied single-vineyard Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon as well as their concentrated jammy Sonoma County Zinfandel.  

For a very modest fee of $5 you can taste five wines from their huge portfolio, I chose all of mine from the Reserve Wine List and only tasted wines that are available only from the tasting room which were as follows:

My first pour was the 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. Sourced from the Russian River Valley, after undergoing malolactic fermentation this wine remained on the lees (spent yeasts) for seven months. This is a big rich Chardonnay with notes of orange peel, ginger, lemon, a hint of oak with a slight nutty finish. Well balanced with a full mouth feel and yet maintains its acidity. A nice wine for $25 a bottle.

My first red wine was the 2008 Reserve Merlot. Made from grapes sourced from Dry Creek and the Sonoma Valley, this wine was aged for 21 months in French oak barrels and it is a bigger wine, almost Cabernet-like, than what you’d expect from this varietal. On the nose I picked up a very distinct mint and eucalyptus character followed by raspberries, and red currants. The wine sells for $20 a bottle.

My second red wine and third pour was the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose I picked up bright cherries followed by some green notes, namely bell peppers, followed by enough wood to rebuild Noah’s ark. At $35 a bottle I’ll say “pass.”

My next red wine was the 2008 Jack London Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Black currants, black berries and tobacco exude from this wine with a noticeable amount of oak on the finish. The wine sells for $30 a bottle.

2007 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. The best wine in the line-up, the bouquet exudes a big nose of dried cherries, blueberries and cassis and followed by a spicy herbal aromatic note of sage and sassafras. The wine has a full bodied mouthfeel with well-structured tannins, and in addition to what is picked up on the nose it has additional flavors of pomegranate with a hint of vanilla on the finish. The only sad note is that it costs a whopping $75 a bottle. A great wine, but there are many like it on the market in the $35 - $40 rage so I had to say “pass.”

To see more pictures, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

Several of these wines seemed over oaked, but Kenwood is still using the antiquated old cheap glass stemware. I suspect that if I were to re-taste the Cabs and Merlot at home in a Reidel Bordeaux glass they might be better displayed and seem more well balanced.

To visit or for more information:

Kenwood Vineyards

9592 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)

Kenwood, CA 95452

Telephone: 1-707- 833-5891