Steven Kent Mirassou is the six generation of winemaking in his family; we shared a pleasant early afternoon tasting wines at Steven Kent Winery, Livermore Valley, CA.
Steven, What is the history of winemaking in your family?
“The Mirassou family history of grape growing and winemaking goes back to 1854. We are America’s oldest winemaking family. We came up to Livermore in 1988; My father sold his share of the family business back to his cousins. He started a new brand Ivan Tamas in association with Ivan Tamas Fuezy, where Steven Kent was a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon program”.
“In 1996, I joined my father and Steven Kent became our brand. Steven Kent is our first, and middle name, Mirassou as a brand sold to Gallo in 2003. I am the only one in the family still making wine as a brand, 160 years of family wine history fell into my shoulders. I never thought I was going to be involved in the winemaking industry. I went to the East coast where I did a literature major and graduate school, with the goal to go to study law and write the great American novel”.
How did you learn about the winemaking business?
“ I moved back to California in 1992. I learned about winemaking from my father, and hands on as I went along. For the past ten years, I have been responsible for winemaking with the help of my team”.
How do you describe your winemaking style?
“Beauty, elegance, and complexity. It is not about the intense amount of tannins, is more about the depth of fruit and structure. I try to be faithful to the fruit, Is about the wines I love to drink. We grow about 90% of the fruit for our wines and source about 10% from various growers”.
What was your plan for the Steven Kent brand when you started this project with your dad?
“When we have begun back in 1996, my dad and I, we though in one wine; Cabernet Sauvignon. Our feeling was then, and I feel even more strongly now, that Livermore Valley can compete with any wine region growing up Cabernet Sauvignon and any of the Bordeaux varieties; given the temperature, the diurnal temperature range, the elevation, the variety of soils and the history of the valley. Our Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon is our biggest production, about 1,000 cases. We have about 40 acres planted with Cabernet, four different clones”.
What is your vision for the wine?
“I am seeking to make the most beautiful wine in the world. For me, beauty is about, purity, balance, complexity and elegance. It is not about high tannins or high PH. I am trying to make wines that are emotionally compelling. I want to make you feel something when you drink my wines: that they are alive, have great depth, and you want to keep going back to them”.
We were pleased with the quality of Steven Kent wines. We had the opportunity to take some wines home and tried with home cooked meals. Among some of our favorites are:
2013 Steven Kent “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc. This single vineyard 100% Sauvignon Blanc is showing delightful ripe stone fruit aromas and flavors. This wine shows Citrus zest and hints of lavender and lemongrass in the nose. On the palate, you enjoy pleasant acidity, and refreshing flavors of tangerine, nectarine and a hint of spice. This Sauvignon Blanc does not go through malolactic fermentation, 10% of the wine aged in new Acacia wood barrels, the rest in stainless steel. Lola will be the perfect companion for your favorite seafood pasta dish, any salad with vinaigrette dressing or chicken dish. We enjoyed it with slightly sauté “langoustine” over linguine parsley pasta with a creamy Sauvignon Blanc baby clams sauce on top. Suggested retail price, $24.
2011 Steven KentCabernet Franc: 2011 was a cold year with an extended ripening period, you can’t tell by the defined red and dark berry aromas and flavors. Rose petal, fresh lavender and dark cherries aromas. Bright acidity on the palate with ripe blackberries, plum, and savory herbal notes. This well-balanced Cabernet Franc feels rich and round with an elegant fruit finish that lingers. We got a kick out of this wine paired with Pappardelle pasta topped with chorizo raggu and a side of eggplant pure. Suggested retail price, $48.
2010 Steven Kent Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon: An elegant well balanced Cabernet Sauvignon that shows delightful aromas of violets, blackberries, and licorice, with hints of cardamon and smoke. On the palate, you enjoy flavors of ripe blueberries, dark currant, sweet vanilla and notes of mint and black pepper. Pleasant restrained tannins and the long finish, with a hint of dark chocolate and ripe figs. We savored this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a bison ribeye steak seasoned with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion, and garlic granules. A tasty side of oven roasted Brussel sprouts and roasted young potatoes with bacon, seasoned with black pepper and salt, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley. This Cabernet Sauvignon is robust but elegant; will pair well with your favorite lean cut of red meat. Suggested retail price, $65.