At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held in December 2020, Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Franc 2017 was in an elite status earning Double Gold Medal by the Professional Judges and a Gold Medal from People’s Choice Judges. Steven Kent Winery also received Best of Class. This was a great accomplishment with only six wines receiving Gold or Double Gold from both sets of judges. This was a blind competition with two sets of judges in different areas. Wines were submitted from 14 states and many AVA’s from around the United States. For more on the wine competition sponsored by California Wines and Wineries see: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/
There is so much that can be said about Steven Kent Mirassou and the Steven Kent Winery. A simple and lofty goal was the background for Steven Kent Mirassou to begin his winery in 1996. That goal was simply to make Cabernet Sauvignon wines in Livermore Valley that rival in quality with the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world. Fast forward to 2021, and in 2020 Steven Kent Winery received the first 100 point wine rating given to a Livermore Wine with his Lineage Wine. Wine Enthusiast stated “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”. Today Steven Kent has at least seven wine labels in his portfolio: The Lineage Wines, The Premier Cabernet line, The Steven Kent Cabernet, Various Red Wine & Blends, Mia Nipote and Ragbag Works. I am sure a few more wines are hidden in his cellar! I know he has these same goals for Cabernet Franc.
Here is a previous story on his Lineage line with more details of his craftsmanship as a winemaker:
His 2017 Cabernet Franc is a part of his Small Lot offering made of 100% Cabernet Franc. He sources the grapes from Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard in the eastern foothills of Livermore. It is 100% Cabernet Franc. It is aged in hand selected 20% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months. Only 8 barrels were produced or 176 cases. Steven, ever the perfectionist, proposed to mitigate the “oak influence” so that the herbal (green bell pepper, pyrazines) could be juggled with the fruit characteristics. Steven’s quote on this vintage was that it was “his finest in the 24 years he has been making wine in Livermore, the robustness of structure that is a hallmark of 2017 is readily apparent”. Obviously both sets of judges were in absolute agreement, and after last night, I too agree!
On the eyes, a purple and red brick hue with a vivid brightness. On the nose, blackberry, blueberry, fig and prunes were present along with floral notes of violets. On the palate, the key herbal quality of bell peppers were interlaced with the sweetness of vanilla and caramel. Additionally, minerality and soft leather came through in the finish. Steven believes the wine will continue to develop over the next 10-15 years. Previously, I had his 2016 pegged as his best to date, but with this vintage, he set another benchmark.
The Food & Wine Pairing
The meal last evening was meant for his 2017 Cabernet Franc. It consisted of a 24 hour marinated tri-tip, seared quickly on both sides on the BBQ and then BBQ’ed over medium heat. The side dishes included twice baked Idaho potatoes, sautéed asparagus in olive oil and garlic salt, roasted brussel sprouts drizzled with balsamic glaze, a fresh garden salad and French bread. Dessert was a pound cake, with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and a special fudge topping. No wonder why it took almost five hours at the dinner table!
Steven’s 2017 Cabernet Franc will make my Best of the Year wines for 2021 and stocked proudly in the cellar along with his 2016 Cabernet Franc’s!!