The Wine Maker
Steven Kent Mirassou as a 6th generation family winemaker has set high goals. He set as his pinnacle development to produce the best “Bordeaux style” wine California could produce. A lofty and perhaps extreme goal for one man in Livermore Valley. After many years as a successful winemaker at Steven Kent Winery, he decided to make 3 to 5 barrels a year of the absolute premier “Bordeaux style” wine. We just opened his 2012 vintage, which is the sixth of the Lineage releases. The blend which changes year to year based on flavor profiles, consisted of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon (Clones 30 & 7); 14% Cabernet Franc; 10% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot.
While blending is an “artistic” endeavor, Steven also is analytical in his pursuit of the perfect Bordeaux blend. Here is Steven’s write up on why these varietals and clones were chosen. It is like an artist mixing paint colors for the right shading and expression of a painting.
“Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 30: Dark cherry and cassis flavors, fine-grained tannins and acidity. Less opulent but more age worthy than Clone 4.
Cabernet Franc: Not as “big” as CS but with more finesse and an aromatic palate of sandalwood and chocolate. Acidity is the watchword of this variety. Its acid-based red fruit flavors marry well with the darker more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon to enliven and length Lineage’s finish.
Petit Verdot: Contributes tannin, color, and grapey aromas and flavors of violet and black fruit. This variety helps to build density in the mid-palate of the wine.
Merlot: Noble variety of Bordeaux’s Right Bank; as counterpoint to CS’s austere structure, Merlot is fleshy and opulent; ripe red/dark cherry flavor, a touch of herbal complexity which adds to Lineage’s rich mid-palate.”
The key take way on blending is that it is extremely selective and requires rigorous decision making of not only varietals, but the correct Clones of the varietals to get the flavor profile. Add another step of both winemaking and personal craftsmanship and abracadabra you have a gorgeous and refined Bordeaux blend called Lineage. I am sure Steven wished it was that simple, but this is the shortened version.
Two of many other detailed undertakings are his hand selection of French oak barrels (Taransaud, Le Grand and Francois Freres) and his constant monitoring of the development of the wine in the barrel.
2012 was marked by nearly perfect weather throughout the growing season, and the temperate year produced perfectly ripe and balanced fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon contribution had a significantly larger role by percentage than it did in the previous releases and shows in Lineage and generous structure. Again, Cabernet Franc beautifully serves its role as the contributor of verve, style, and vitality. Merlot provides a great mid-palate roundness while Petit Verdot adds tannin and exotic fruit. The overall feel of Lineage is one of beauty and elegance with a fairly low alcohol level of 13.9%. The suggested maturity of this wine is recommended from 2018 to 2030. The wine was harvested from the Ghielmetti Estate and Home Ranch Vineyards in Livermore Valley. This library wine today from Lineage goes for $245. The current release is the 2018 and available for $175. The 2018 was given 97 points immediately by Wine Enthusiast and the 2017 received 100 points from Steve Heimoff.
The flavor profile and experience of this wine is truly remarkable. First on the eye you see a medium to medium dark red tint and medium viscosity wine. Very different than some of the bolder Cabernet Sauvignon’s coming out of Napa Valley. Your first impression is perhaps this may be a bit light. But hold on until you get your first whiff which reveals “black fruits, exotic woods and spice aromatics”. On the palate, you get all the above characteristics that Steven purposed in his selection of varietals and clones to produce a crescendo of semi-sweet mocha, dark cherry, dark roasted coffee, sweet tobacco, violets, black fruit, etc. You are a bit mesmerized in trying to dissect each essential trait in this wine drinking experience. But it is a wine to simply enjoy and savor the existential engagement and relationship of such a rare and eloquent treat.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Last night our Friday Night Wine & Dine group ventured to Verona18 in Copperopolis. Paired with an eight ounce pan seared filet mignon with herb encrusted Gorgonzola compound butter cooked medium rare. Served with steak fries and a medley of fresh vegetables. The wine embraced the exquisitely tender filet mignon and was a perfect dinner companion.