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The Sonoma Valley Uncorked: Kunde Family Estate

It has been said; "the more things change, the more they stay the same" that sentiment rings true every time I visit wine country. Whether it's the Sonoma Valley or the far flung corners of Paso Robles, the one true constant, which never changes is finding great wines for reasonable prices. The second thing that never changes is finding great food, hanging with good friends and exploring exciting new adventures.

Having just returned from a fantastic week in the Napa and Sonoma Valley last week, I've many new stories to tell and of course a few favorite new wine-finds to share with everyone. I often like to say to myself and Mrs. Cuvee, "okay this trip, we are going to attempt to show some restraint in purchasing wine", a feat for me which is easier said than done. Especially, when the quality of the wine being tasted is so very good, like the wines we experienced in our [comped] sit-down Kinneybrook Room tasting experience. My son, Mrs. Cuvee and I had a opportunity to sample their Reserve Chardonnay, 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Kunde Meritage 202 and for me an opportunity to revisit the 2008 Century Vines Zinfandel.

Mrs. Cuvee and I first experienced the Kunde Family Estate back in 2005 on a cold damp winter morning, where we had a chance to sample their wines, take the "cave-tour" which they still offer, we walked away with a few gems back then. Every time I have an opportunity to taste their wines, I always come away with a few favorites in tow. So much has changed since that last visit, they have modernized the tasting room, it's much brighter and inviting. Most of the observable changes come in the form of a new parking lot, a brand new deck over looking a newly built man-made pond, plenty of deck chairs and umbrellas which invite lounging and the flower strewn trail, leading to the large cellar doors.

Honestly, do yourself a favor if you find yourself in the area, Kunde Family Estate is a place you need to stop, sip and relax. Whether you choose the "Mountain-Top" experience, a Sustainable Hike, a Horseback Ride, the simple pleasures of the Kinneybrook Room like we did, or you just want to belly-up to the tasting-bar, they have something for everyone. Their prices for the tours and the wine are very reasonable, when compared to many of their counterparts in area, delivering  palate pleasing QPR in every sniff, sip and slurp.

Okay here's the skinny [or what some folks will call the tasting notes] on the wines I took home. I failed at showing any restraint having taken four bottles of each, nothing like putting your money, where your mouth is.

2008 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel: This wine has a SRP of $35, under a cork closure. As I often say during these live tastings, like they guy with no filter, tasting the wines out of order at times, "this is the big boy in the room". To say this wine is a monster of finesse, would be a huge understatement. Depth and complexity draped over abundant red and dark fruit, making this Zinfandel the mother of all "old-vine" Zinfandel's. The Zen of Zinfandel's should really be the title of this wine. In a game of poker with other supposed old vine zins, this wine would be "all-in" sitting pretty with a full house and no I'm not bluffing.

Folks this Zinfandel is the "real-deal", not a pretender to the throne like so many other so-called Old-Vines Zins. This wine is produced from the Shaw vineyard [don't miss this] which is reported to be 126 years old, Booyah! This is my third encounter with this same vineyard and oh my the layers of flavor, piped with nice acidity, give the fruit real pop. This is how you do it, not a jammy note insight, this wine is seamless and the flavor sails on into the horizon. Well done, I give this wine 93 points.

2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley: Many folks think you have to go to Napa to get a decent bottle of "Cab" but nothing could be further from the truth, this wine blows that misconception out of the water, like a broad-side from old Ironsides [the oldest commissioned U.S Navy ship afloat]. Bold, fresh, and delicious are the words that immediately spring to mind for this 2009 Kunde Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Its glass staining ruby color immediately tells you this is a wine to take seriously, tasting great now, immediately approachable.

Bang, bang black cherry and fresh blackberries scents easily grab your attention. In the glass, right out of the bottle, no decanter in sight, after the first slurp, mouth-filling flavors of blackberries, ripe plum, rich toast and dark chocolate plays nicely in the background. A touch of chalky tannins on the finish, reminding you it's still a youngster, but one that has great aging potential. If you’re looking for pairing suggestions, this wine will be right at home with the “classic” complements to Cabernet: grilled steak and prime rib, it's also very impressive with the Duck Confit prepared at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg, Ca. My score for this wine is 92 points and it sells for $45.

2008 Kunde Meritage 202: As for the 202 on label, it's a silent reminder of how long the Kunde Family Estate has been making wine, as the two hundred and second bonded winery in the U.S. The other name on the label, meritage, indicates that it's a Bordeaux style blend. One which incorporates, 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot. This wine is the recipient of a 3-day cold soak, barrel aged 18 months in 53% new French oak and pump-overs twice a day, producing a an elegant blend, which beams with rich red and dark fruit from start to finish, in a word this wine is plush. You will find this wine a bit flamboyant, putting my snout in the glass, wow a bouquet of roasted coffee, florals and plum liqueur inviting the first long slurp. After the first splash down, dark bakers chocolate, dark plum and ripe cherry, toasty oak is accompanied by a full-bodied, deep, luxuriously rich, framed with good structure. Again this wine is young, giving boat-loads of youthful flavors, but laying this wine down a bit will reward the patient. My score is 90 points and this wine sells for $30, well worth the price of admission.

Okay folks, I know it has been some time since I posted, nearly two weeks, "yikes" but I appreciate you hanging in there. I have much more on the launching pad, so keep your score cards handy it's going to be fast and furious. Until next time, please continue to sip long and prosper, cheers!

Comments said…
Thanks so much for the nice review. It was such a pleasure to have you visit us again and in much better weather! ;)

If you have any questions about the wines or other venues on the property just let us know. We love to read your blog, so keep up the good work.

By the way, the Century Vines from Shaw Vineyard were 126 years old for that 2008 vintage, they are now a whopping 130 years old... and still producing awesome fruit.

Alana said…
You picked a good one to review. Kunde has it all, value, style and delicious wines. My other favorite winery near there is Loxton. Did you happen to go there?
Bill Eyer said…
Hi Ed,

Thanks for the nice words, it was a great visit. We had a fun time visiting with Zach, who took a moment out of his day to chat with us. I'll need to update the timeline on the old-vine zin, perhaps the next time I'm in the area, I could see the vineyard site. Thanks again for the invite.


Bill Eyer said…
Hi Alana,

I've become a big fan of Kunde, their amazing quality and commitment to sustainability is impressive. As consumer and a observer of the wine-scene, Kunde is shining example of how it's done right.

I'm embarrassed to say, that I've never heard of Loxton, I'll have to make a point of visiting with them on my next trip.



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