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Vivino users love Small Lot Cabernet. So much that's it's almost scary. Requests for another shot at this micro-production beauty have poured in, and so here it is! This Cab has it all – dense, mouthwatering fruit with more layers than a Russian nesting doll, tannins with more chew than rare steak and that seductive pine and tobacco aromatic that elevates the best Cabernets to ethereal places. Some tasters even confused it with Mouton Rothschild! Cabernet collectors know this kind of wine comes along maybe a couple times in a decade. Here again is that signature Californian wine: Small Lot is made from teeny-tiny, eency-weency vineyards and is babied through fermentation and aging in a true artisanal fashion. The resulting wine is concentrated and serious in a way few can match. This is the kind of Cab you’ll wish you’d bought more of.
About the wine
The first offer of Small Lot went in a flash – and users’ Vivino Ratings are stratospheric! This is a legend in the making. That’s because the “Small Lot” tastes like the kind of All-America, honest, natural Cabernet that was entered in the Judgment of Paris tasting. Not surprising, because Kathryn Kennedy was part of that ruckus-making generation of vintners who led California to stardom. Kathryn was a rebel icon in the freewheeling early days of California wine. This mother of four planted 7 acres of Cabernet to ward off encroaching land developers, unaware that she’d found a Grand Cru Classe-quality location. Over the years, her powerful and long-lived Cabernets inspired collector devotion the likes of which were matched only by Ridge and Stag’s Leap. But those meager 7 acres kept production tiny and limited to the SF Bay Area. Today, her youngest son, Marty keeps the spirit alive and has added the “Small Lot” Cabernet, which collects the best grapes from their micro-grower neighbors into a potent, Ridge-like Cabernet with no need for any secret tricks. This is beautiful Cabernet that delivers tightly packed cherry, cassis, violet, thyme, tobacco and mineral together in a way that makes the big names look a little…watery. Decant this and serve with prime rib, leg of lamb or a big burger covered in mushrooms.
Winemaker: Marty Mathis
Appellation: Santa Cruz Mountains
- 97 pts: Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
- 4.6/5.0: Vivino Users (76 ratings)
Grapes: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
Vineyard: Small Lot throughout the SCM
Cooperage: 20 months in Oak, 50% of which is new
About the winery
Born in 1927, Kathryn moved from Santa Cruz to Santa Clara Valley at the age of 15. She earned a degree from Stanford University at the age of 19. Married, and with the first of her four children, Kathryn moved to her Saratoga property in 1949. Her inspiration to plant a vineyard came from experiencing a fine bottle of Martin Ray Cabernet from the 1950s and from observing the workmen tend an old Cabernet vineyard across the road from her home. The Kathryn Kennedy Winery is located on gentle slopes near Saratoga, California. Their estate vineyard in the Saratoga Hills is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon planted by Kathryn herself in 1973 after attending viticulture courses at UC Davis. She planted her entire eight acres exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon after listening to the wisdom of the old-timers of the area. Her youngest son, Marty Mathis, took the position as winemaker in 1981. Marty and his wife Dr. Deborah Mathis currently reside at the vineyard and winery and Marty supervises all winemaking. Kathryn passed away August, 2009 with the confidence that her name will live on in the wines.
About the region
Prominent Critic Antonio Galloni (of the Wine Advocate and Vinous) had this to say about the Santa Cruz Mountains: “What is the most overlooked terroir in California? It is a question I am asked often. The answer is always the same: The Santa Cruz Mountains. These rugged hillsides just south of San Francisco are home to some of the world’s greatest vineyards and wines. Fabulous, age-worthy Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignon-based reds all flourish on these dramatic mountain sites.
To be sure, farming and winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains can only be described as a labor of love. Yields are typically tiny by world standards, the weather is capricious and there is no easy way to reach the consumer directly, as wineries can so easily do in many other parts of the state.
All of that actually works in the consumer’s favor, as most of the wines – even at the highest level – remain very fairly priced next to global benchmarks. And make no mistake about it, the top Santa Cruz wines are among the world’s elite.”
About the winemaker, Marty Mathis
Marty Mathis continues the tradition created by Martin Ray, Paul Draper, Jeffrey Patterson – and his own mother – by harvesting late, fully ripened grapes that are imbued with the tannin of the mountain and the aromatics of the coastal forests. Modest use of oak and slow and steady cellar work bring these incredible grapes to life in wines with incredible substance and savory depth. Far from the overly fruity and confected wines which have risen in prominence. Collectors have likened his wines to great left-bank Bordeauxs from Pauilliac and Saint-Estephe, as well as the serious Cabernets from Napa greats like Heitz and Stags Leap Wine Cellars.
97 points, Julie Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Powerful and poised with graceful notes of black currant, tart cherry, black plum and boysenberry cozying up to autumnal spice, tobacco and vanilla bean. The texture is luscious and dense, though light on its feet with balanced structure and acidity. As this alluring wine opens up in the glass, lovely floral notes become pronounced alongside aromatic wild herbs, eucalyptus, black tea and mushroom. Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains impresses me time and time again and this is no exception. Enjoy with grilled ribeye, beef brisket, or juicy lamb chops."