During our recent wine-themed cookout, the focus was on wines from the Finger Lakes. Tasting team member Dr. J had a special treat in his bag of tricks, however – this beautiful 1994 Kenwood Artist Series Cabernet.
It was the grand finale in a wine-soaked evening of fun. In addition to this tasty vintage of Cabernet, we experienced the first vintage of my mici – a grilled Romanian-style garlicky, skinless sausage. Understandably, you might be more interested in the wine!
The Artist Series by Kenwood is the highest reflection of art and winemaking. This line of premium wine was first released in 1975 and over the years has included work by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso. Together with superb wine, the vintages have proven to be highly collectable.
Dr. J was excited to share this wine with the group. The bottle features a reclining nude by artist David Goines and the label was first deemed indecent by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Thankfully the problem was resolved and this fantastic bottle released to the public.
The grapes for the wine came from vineyards at an elevation of 1,400 on the Mayacamas mountain range bordering eastern Sonoma Valley. The Cabernet Sauvignon was barrel aged for 24 months and then small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot were added to enhance the wine. The blend was then aged another six months in French oak.
The cork crumbled when we attempted to open it. Laboring like a couple of surgeons, we used a variety of tools to remove it. We then poured it through an aerator with a mesh basket to catch the cork particles and into a decanter.
Dr. J shared his thoughts on his treasure wine, “What I loved most was the depth and complexity that it still had after 20 years. The nose of tobacco and leather seemed to continue to open as we sat around. It has red fruit and spice with a nice long finish.”
In the glass, the wine is brick red. I got nice flavors of dried fruit and was surprised that the wine was so lively after a couple decades. Tasting team members Green Dragon, Wine Chick and Sax Man were also enthusiastic about the wine. It is still nicely balanced with a smidge of tannins evident but mostly integrated.
A perfect evening and a perfect glass of wine. Now that’s a true work of art.