Wine of the Week

An old reliable

Sometimes, what with all the hot, sexy new wineries popping up all over the world, we tend to forget the places that consistently and dependably make fine wines. Kenwood Vineyards is a perfect example. Year after year, veteran winemaker Pat Henderson seems to find just the right fruit and does not mess with it too much: The result is that the wines are reliably good recommendations – sometimes even the top choices – in their price classes.

The real guns in the Kenwood line are the Zinfandels and Merlots. Kenwood makes four price levels of red wine: Sonoma Series, Reserve, Jack London, and Artist Series. The last is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc priced high ($70) and aimed at collectors. The other three levels are the place to find the Zins and Merlots. Starting at the Sonoma Series, you can expect to pay around $16. The Zinfandel is inky and aromatic with berry aromas, like raspberries and blackberries, while the Merlot smells of black fruits, like plums and currants, along with a nice hint of vanilla from French oak. Their Jack London line is named for the writer's old farm, where Kenwood sources some of its best fruit. These wines up the ante with more intensity and complexity and run about $21. The Reserve series is harder to find around town but worth ordering if you find you like the house style. Expect to pay about $25.

The nicest thing about the Kenwood wines is you don't have to go to the top to get a great wine. The Sonoma series will please most people, and if you find you like their approach, you can try the higher-priced wine when the occasion arises.

Kenwood wines are available at all fine wine shops, as well as at HEB, Central Market, and Whole Foods Market.

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Kenwood Vineyards, Pat Henderson

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