Kenwood Wines Review - Many "Perfect" Choices

When I think of Kenwood Vineyards in California, I see a tableau of colorful labels that could  reasonably be displayed in an art museum.  I did, in fact, feature Kenwood    in an exhibition of distinctive wine labels I curated for a museum in Massachusetts .  

 

This is Pat

Kenwood in the United States, like Mouton Rothschild in France, pioneered the use of original art on wine labels.    The Californa winery commissioned local and regional artists to produce memorable works, fostering the careers of many whose talents might not have received such recognition. Original art, some good, some mediocre, is now commonplace on wine bottles worldwide.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Kenwood was part of a new wave of wineries that sprang up in Napa and Sonoma in the early 1970’s.  It quickly distinguished itself with its Artist Series and Jack London, a single vineyard wine crafted from   fields once farmed by that historic California writer. Jack London was a pioneer of sustainable farming in Sonoma over 100 years ago and today the estate continues to be sustainably farmed by the same family. The art labels went on its very best Cabernet Sauvignon at a price which appeared expensive at the time, but is mid-range today at roughly $60 compared to the soaring price levels of comparable wines .

 

Jack London Vineyard

Just a few years ago, the giant French wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard acquired Kenwood, bringing ample resources that have expanded horizons and inspired new goals for winemaker Pat Henderson and his veteran crew.  Pernod Ricard had been seeking, in the words of a senior vp for Pernod Ricard US, “a winery of considerable scale, but also one that had a strong sense of place.”

  

vineyard

Kenwood will be, that official says, “the cornerstone of our still wine business.  About 40% of Kenwood wine is sold in California. We think the market elsewhere is underdeveloped and we want to make it more of a national brand.”

  

Pat Henderson in Vineyards

Kenwood has purchased new vineyards and is replanting them with clones selected for quality and flavor first, quantity secondary. The new resources are the basis for Six Ridges, a new line of wines showcasing top sites in the region. The focus, says Henderson, is on small lot winemaking. “We’ve not had to make compromises.  We hand-pick as much as possible to ensure we start with only the best fruit and keep a close watch on each parcel to monitor the wine’s development.”

Chardonnay

The Six Ridges bottlings are coming online this month. Here’s a quick look at the group of four reds and two whites. Suggested Retail Prices are given, but the SRP is a winery suggestion and very often retail prices vary up and down depending upon the store.

 

     2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, (SRP) $24.99. Fruit aromas of cherry and cassis, complex aromatic notes of lavender and cloves. Full bodied with smooth tannins.

    2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, SRP $24.99. Flavors of raspberry and pomegranate, with hints of clove, nutmeg and vanilla.

     2014 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, $21.99. White peach and Fuji apple flavors, notes of allspice, vanilla and tropical fruit.

 

Two 2014 vintage reds from the Dry Creek River Valley both $24.99. Zinfandel and Merlot. The Zinfandel has flavors of red raspberry and dried cherry with spicy notes of vanilla, tropical fruit and allspice.  The Merlot offers fruity aromas of fig and dragon-fruit layered onto complex spicy notes of nutmeg, sage and sweet vanilla oak.

Sauvignon Blanc

These five wines are now on the market. The 2015 Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc, $12.99 , will arrive in May.

 

More Kenwood Winery information

Photos:Courtesy of Kenwood wineries

 

 

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