How many 100-point wines have you had the pleasure of tasting? Unless you’re bosom buddies with a wine critic, probably not many. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to try three. At wine competitions, Double Gold medal winners are ranked 95 points and up, and judges generously reward a winemaker who can create a wine all the panelists are crazy about. Occasionally, one gets a perfect score.
So it was that at the 2020 Sunset Wine Competition, my panel awarded 100 points the 2019 Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals Rosé of Grenache. Why? Because it captured a moment in one’s collective recollections of the summertime of youth like no other rosé we tried. Perhaps it was nostalgia, but the cotton candy, pink lemonade, and watermelon was a dead ringer for the county fair.
When critics alone with their schnozzes and rituals come to the exceedingly rare conclusion that a wine lacks nothing and deserves a 100-point score, it’s something to note. So when I learned that Steve Heimoff (formerly of Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator) had awarded 100 points each to two of Steven Mirassou’s wines under the Steven Kent Winery and Lineage labels, I had to check them out. Heimoff, although retired, was never known to toss triple digits lightly over the transom—not to mention this is the first time any Livermore Valley wine has been awarded 100 points by a renowned wine critic.
In all fairness, the Steven Kent wines have exhibited appreciable consistency over the yeas, occasionally achieving flashes of brilliance. They speak of place beautifully, especially the Lineage, Mirassou’s quest to create a great Bordeaux blend that could compete with the best proprietary blends on the world stage. That he has attempted to do so entirely from Livermore fruit exhibits his confidence in the vineyards he has chosen.
Here’s what Heimoff had to say about 2017 Steven Kent Winery “The Premier” Cabernet Sauvignon: “Made from 100% Cabernet. The result is, in a word, stunning. I would stand it next to any Cabernet Sauvignon in the world; it’s that good. I could give this wine 98, 99 points and hedge my bets, but why bother? It’s perfect.”
I’d add: A War and Peace wine. Like a fortress. Lush throughout, with a fantastic finish of chocolate cherry lava cake. Intentional and stupendous.
About the 2017 Lineage Wine Company “Lineage,” Heimoff wrote, “This is the winery’s Bordeaux-style blend, although it’s probably time to stop using that derivative phrase. The precision, tailoring, and esthetic impact of Lineage are remarkable. I don’t taste a huge range of wines anymore since I retired, but I have my memory and my notes of the tens of thousands of California Cabs and blends I tasted in my career. Frankly, none have been better. A huge achievement, both for Steven Mirassou and for the Livermore Valley, to which he has been dedicated for so long.”
I’d add: An amazing amalgam of everything you love about Cabernet, softened by Merlot and freshened by Franc. It’s the finest silk-lined Italian leather jacket you’ve ever donned. It wraps you in such form-fitting decadence, you never want to take it off.
Bravo to Steven Mirassou and his team for achieving the distinction of not just one, but two, 100-point wines.