Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Kaz Winery, raid his secret library, and secure a wine that is no longer available to the general public
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Kaz Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Champs Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Richard ‘Kaz’ Kazmier
Our Operatives know that Agent Red is absolutely bonkers about Kaz wines. They also know that Cabernet Franc is his very favorite varietal. Today’s wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese, the most widely planted grape in all of Italy. Sangiovese is used in everything from blended inexpensive table wines like Chianti, to the finest Super Tuscans. Italian immigrants introduced this varietal to the U.S. in the 1800’s. It is even reported that this grape was first planted near Geyserville, California, at the Segheshio Family’s “Chianti Station”. A few miles away, the Sangiovese part of today’s wine comes from a small vineyard neighboring the Kaz winery, where the other part of the wine, the Cabernet Franc, grows. This magical blending, as interpreted by the mind of Kaz, is a delicious and complex wine that is a joy to imbibe.
Look – Deepest dark garnet hues, with a slightly darker and opaque core. At the edge of the glass, a ring of light garnet rings the wine. After a hearty swirl, tall and skinny tears streak down the glass.
Smell – A port-like aroma rush up to greet you on the nose. Sweet bright cherry, young raspberry, young strawberry and toasty caramel comprise the unique, initial notes. Underneath, vanilla, sweet plum, soft cedar and red flower petals round out the fragrant aromas.
Feel – Soft and light on entry. Very high in acidity, this wine has a tart and bright appeal that makes it an easy food companion. As the wine moves across the mid-palate, it takes on a medium weightiness. After the wine leaves your mouth, a soft dryness spreads around the palate leaving behind bright fruit flavors and a hint of bright spice.
Taste – Very bright and tart, with flavors that you might not have tasted in a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine leads with tart cherry, red plum skin, black plum, young strawberry, cedar and elderberry. As the wine breathes, the cedar diminishes and bramble, soft spice and yellow raspberry emerge.
Finish – Long and bright and slightly dry, this wine begins with tart fruit and ends with cedar, spice and earthy bramble. Bright acids persist, throughout, making the mouth water at the very end.
Conclusion – Kaz’s wines are built unlike most of its California brethren. Kaz picks his grapes early, where many California winemakers look for more ripening – and therefor more sugars – before harvesting. This makes for wines that are higher in acidity, which makes them drink more like European wines. If you are looking for a deep, extracted Cab, look elsewhere. But, if you are looking for a truly unique expression of the varietal, you can’t go wrong, here. I blind-tasted the wine with a small panel of agent tasters. Not one of them was able to discern the varietal. Some through the Petite Verdot or Petite Sirah was present, and they were shocked to learn that this wine was a true 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Pair this palate-cleansing wine with something spicy or bold, like a spice rubbed steak or tangy-spicy BBQ.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER_
SUBJECT: Richard “Kaz” Kasmeier
WINE EDUCATION: Self taught with guidance from books & friends! Took some extension classes at UCDavis.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Assisted a family winery for 2 years.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Harvest grapes when they are ripe not over ripe. So the acids are high and can age and stand up to time, no or low sulfites!
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Lay it down, nah drink it!”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1994
AGENT RED: Greetings, Kaz. It has been far too long since I visited with you! I am so happy to have another chance to showcase one of your fantastic wines. Today, we are featuring your 2008 Champs Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% single-vineyard wine from the Ross Family Vineyard. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KAZ: Thanks again for the opportunity & our long relationship with a fun marketing tool to sell wine.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KAZ: Great help from Rick Surel an armature winemaker that helped me in the starting years.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
KAZ: David Coleman of Adler Fels Winery, very creative and inventive winemaking approach.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KAZ: I really do make wines for me & I hope that people get it. Health wines that need food. I could care less about the reviewers.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
KAZ: Last vintage of the normal crops to date. Not crazy weather shifts and aver rage rain fall and rain in the right time of the growing season. Normal size crop as well.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KAZ: Yak or other beefy/venison type meats! Whatever meats you like but think of the other stuff as well!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Ross Family Vineyard such a special place for Cabernet?
KAZ: Its where the fog or low clouded separate in Sonoma Valley. To the north & Russian River Valley & to the south into Carneros Valley. The soils are fertile but filled with rocks.I try to have the grower stress the fruit as much as possible. The pumps the flavor but does result in smaller crops. This is a French clone from the Sonoma Valley of France, call Bergerac!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
KAZ: We just did the first racking of the 2011 wines. We are also getting ready to bottle up some 2009 & 2010. Grapes growing wise we are pruning the vineyard for this year’s crop.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
KAZ: Have these wines with food, they are not the easy drinking around the pool wines!
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KAZ: Come to the winery to taste wines from the barrel. Your experience won’t quite there, we let guests bottle, cork it, and choose a label to throw down on it.Feel like doing a blend go for it. It’s how Sonoma Valley used to be!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
The location of the Kaz Winery, in Kenwood, California, can be seen in this satellite photo.