Take My Wine…Please

June 21, 2012

Joe Roberts of 1winedude.com fame recently posted a video manifesto of sorts about how wine bloggers should behave when asking for samples from wineries.  It was commonsensical and appropriate: Observe the golden rule.

More important, from my perspective, was Joe’s statement, and I’m paraphrasing: as a community, wine bloggers are gaining more and more influence; if an individual blogger understands that she is part of a larger movement that behaves professionally, the community’s (read: the individual blogger’s) ability to gain access through samples, invitations to events, etc. will be enhanced. Couldn’t agree more.

But what this post really is…is an invitation to serious bloggers, videographers, and writers to request samples from me. I want you to taste my wines…and write/talk about them too, of course. Now, I know some will immediately remark on how self-serving this is…and I happily, enthusiastically, and with alacrity…admit it!

There are thousands of brands out there. The vast majority of which serve the very important purpose of making everyday wine that is affordable and drinkable.

My mission is different. I make wine from the Livermore Valley, an appellation that is blessed with the viticultural chops to make world-class wine. My flagship wine is called Lineage. Lineage is my family’s past; my future, and my only vinous weapon against Time’s implacable obligation to erase.  If Lineage becomes one of the handful of iconic wines every serious wine lover must have, then I have done my job. I’m devoting a career to trying to make it happen.

What’s important to remember is that the level Lineage attains isn’t up to me. It’s up to you. Ultimately, the quality of a wine will win out…but the wine first needs the context that only the press and restaurateurs and wine shops can give it.

So, there you go. I’m willing to lay myself out on the line, willing to take the responses as they come.

My preference is to sit down with you at my Winery to provide the context for Lineage and the other wines you taste. If you can’t make it to the Livermore Valley but are serious, and have been communicating about wine, I’ll share with you.

Just comment with your blog url and address, and I’ll get wine to you (while sample supplies last).

A little housekeeping to send April off….Reviews from the esteemed Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine for several of the Steven Kent Cabs:


STEVEN KENT Clone Thirty. Ghielmetti Vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon. Livermore Valley 2008

Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
The deepest, richest and most outgoing of Steven Kent’s several new Cabernets, the Clone Thirty bottling is also the most definitively ripe in character. It is a big, fleshy, mouthfilling wine rife with extracted black cherry fruit, and if in no way a nuanced wine at this point, it is appointed with loads of very sweet, vanillin oak that stays step for step with that fruit. A few may find it a too much of a good thing, but those who enjoy wines of its style would be smart to stash a few bottles away for a half-dozen years.
STEVEN KENT Ghielmetti Vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon.  Livermore Valley 2008
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Elements of black cherries, sweet oak, fresh herbs and a bit of forest-floor spice are nicely married in both the outgoing aromas and easy-to-access flavors of this one, and the wine’s convincing Cabernet credentials are never in doubt. It is fairly supple on entry and generally well-balanced with fine-grained tannins showing on the latter-palate, and, while it does want four or five years to show its best, it is not one that needs protracted aging.
And a new review from the terrific Wine Enthusiast Magazine:
90 Points – Steven Kent Winery 2008 Ghielmetti Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 
“This lovingly made wine is packed with boysenberry, black cherry, and swirls of vanilla cream around its soft, round texture and structure. Its long finish is laced with plum, whispers of smoke, licorice and a touch of cedar. Another 3-5 years in bottle will tame its tannins further and enhance every last nuance. “
Unfortunately, these wines are currently unavailable, but we are set to release The Premier, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine represents our best 100% Cabernet release of the vintage and is sure to be regarded as one of the finest Cabernets we have yet produced. Only 480 bottles of this wine are available in the Reserve Room and Barrel Room. You can order the wine here.

Lineage and Faulkner

April 14, 2012

I just finished re-reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and was struck again by the beauty of the language, the uncanniness of characters and the fluidity and the multi-directionality of Time’s arrow.

And we’d sit in the dry leaves that whispered a little with the slow respiration of our waiting and with the slow breathing of the earth and the windless October, the rank smell of the lantern fouling the brittle air, listening to the dogs and to the echo of Louis’ voice dying away. He never raised it, yet on a still night we have heard it from our front porch. When he called the dogs in he sounded just like the horn he carried slung on his shoulder and never used, but clearer, mellower, as though his voice were a part of darkness and silence, coiling out of it, coiling into it again. 

Steven at Faulkner's Rowan Oak residence

That is beautiful stuff…

Deeply woven into the gorgeous prose of this book is the one central leitmotiv: dissolution. Whether it is under the weight of history, prosaic greed, a longing for a chivalric code  that doesn’t exist anymore, all of the major characters (except, notably, one) are borne off on the tides of time into nothingness.

The lone exception is Dilsey. The true matriarch of the family, and the witness to the generations of madness that culminate over the roughly twenty years chronicled in the novel in Quentin’s suicide, Caddy’s promiscuity, Benjy’s institutionalization, and Jason’s financial ruin. It is Dilsey we see caring for the “idiot” Benjy (most memorably in the church sermon scene toward the end of the book); making sure that Caddy’s illegitimate daughter, Quentin, is not harmed by Jason, and taking over the role of “mother” for the white and black families described in the book.

In an appendix that Faulkner wrote 16 years after the original publication of the novel, he explains what

Faulkner Statue - Oxford, MS

happened to the major characters, a sort of Where Are They Now reckoning. The explications are of varying lengths, pages for the Compson children, paragraphs for Dilsey’s kin. For Dilsey herself, there is only her name followed by a period then a new paragraph consisting of They endured. 

There are many readers who believe that They endured is Dilsey’s epitaph, that this denotation describes her adamantine nature; that she is, indeed, a force of nature. I think the reality is different. I think that her epitaph is the period itself. For the Compson family and this bit of Mississippi history, Dilsey is not only adamantine, but also inevitable. She is a part of the Compson experience, the family history. But there is also the sense that she transcends the purely personal evocation to become a symbol of the steadfastness that outlasts the emotionality of the family  saga, the region’s history, and the region itself . Only she, among the time-lost, lost-to-time Compsons rises above the temporal; she is a fixed pin in the flow of time; a maternal symbol, Mother Earth herself. Dilsey is ineluctably connected to her place and time. Her presence is so necessary that the place and time would cease to exist without her.

Faulkner - a fan of Burgundy

Because I have the blessing and curse to reduce practically every encounter to how it informs my chosen passion, it in the character of Dilsey that I see Lineage, my flagship blend. The great brands…the Bordeaux First Growths, Grange from Australia, Harlan Estate and Ridge Montebello from California have achieved – through their longevity and quality – a certain inevitability that transcends individual vintages, maybe even transcends “wine” itself. They belong to the great flow of Time now. This is my goal for Lineage…that it both overcomes and belittles my desires for it…that it becomes meaning itself.

Putting a Pin in Time

March 21, 2012

The image on the masthead of the Steven Kent Portfolio blog is the top of our Lineage bottling.

The shield contains the roman numeral for 6 and stands as a symbol for the 6th generation of the Mirassou family to find his passion making wine in California.

I make Lineage to honor those fathers and grandfathers before me and to inspire those who come after. I want to stick a pin in Time and show that all of the vintages before this first one were a prelude to what Lineage symbolizes and to what Lineage is intended to become.

I believe in the inherent greatness of the Livermore Valley, and my singular goal is to transform the viticultural gifts we have in our Valley into an offering that ultimately takes its place among the handful of the world’s iconic wines.

My children, or theirs or theirs, will stick a pin in me too. They will (I hope!) carry this mission farther, and by passionately striving to make their vintages great will honor the passion of the generations that came before them.