Kenwood (Sonoma Valley), CA – The aging of wine in barrels is a time-honored technique that dates back nearly 2,000 years. So it makes sense there would be a back story on how oak barrels were utilized to enhance the character and style of the newly released 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel and 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon – a back story that goes beyond the benefits of oak aging to the grape varieties themselves.
Maturation in oak barrels enhances red wine in three ways. Perhaps most obviously, it imparts subtle oak nuances to wine’s aromas and flavors. It also softens wine’s texture as a result of passive micro-oxygenation through the barrel staves. Lastly, it concentrates wine very slightly through evaporation. Red wines aged in oak barrels are thus more complex, smoother and slightly fuller in character than those kept in neutral stainless steel.
With the 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel and 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, as with all Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County red wines, the time in barrel and the types of barrels are dictated primarily – but not exclusively – by the grape variety. Zinfandel’s character combines ripe, vibrant berry fruit and moderate tannins. Because fruit is this wine’s calling card and development of smoothness on the palate doesn’t take as long as with some grape varieties, the Kenwood Sonoma County Zinfandel is matured in a traditional combination of French and American oak barrels for just 19 months. In contrast, Cabernet Sauvignon’s character is multi-faceted, powerful and structured. To develop complexity and polish, this young wine requires more time in oak, and the Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon receives 24 months in a mixture of French, Eastern European and American oak barrels. The use of Eastern European oak may come as a surprise to some, but Eastern Europe was the original oak source for barrels used to mature Bordeaux reds and remained popular there until the late 19th century, when it was superseded by locally-grown French oak.
Zesty, forward aromas of raspberry and dried cranberry in the 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel combine with generous eucalyptus and subtle vanilla notes. Intense raspberry and cherry flavors are backed by pepper and spice accents. Impressively mouthfilling, with a fine balance of firm tannins and vibrant acidity, this youthful Zinfandel can be enjoyed now for its power, but promises a rewarding evolution with cellaring. A total of 15,300 cases of 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel were produced. It is available nationally.
Elegant aromas of cassis and blueberry, complemented by bay leaf and coffee nuances, introduce the 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis and blueberry also dominate the generous flavors, which gain complexity from a background note of cedar. Medium weight and moderate – yet soft – tannins meld nicely on the palate, leading to a long, balanced finish. Accessible now and already a fine match for steak and lamb, the Cabernet Sauvignon should develop well with one to three years of cellaring. The 2008 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is available nationally; An impressive 40,000 cases were produced.
Established in 1970 in the Sonoma Valley, Kenwood Vineyards produces premium wines that express the world-class quality and character of Sonoma County vineyards.