Hello Friends,

It’s your favorite Napa Valley Magician and Certified Sommelier Ben Silver. As most of you know by now I’m actually based out of Southern California making me a San Diego Magician and Certified Sommelier. However, I perform for clients all over America and get up to Napa Valley quite frequently for gigs as Wine and Magic is my niche and Napa Valley is probably the most famous wine region in the United States. I had the honor of performing in Napa in March 2019 for a corporate group on the Napa Valley Wine Train which was a blast. While in Napa Valley I visited approximately 15-18 tasting rooms to brush up on the new vintages and current releases to get a sense of vintage and varietal characteristics.

While I was up in Napa Valley I stopped by Stags Leap Wine Cellars the famed winery from the 1976 Paris Tasting. I have enjoyed their wines over the years and have made friends with their long time tasting room manager Aaron Ramo who is a hospitality maven. I was disappointed when I learned that Aaron had left the winery and accepted the position of Assistant Tasting Room Manager at Kenzo Estate a boutique winery I was unaware of. Knowing Aaron and his passion for wine I was sure that if he moved to a new winery it had to be incredible, and … it truly is!

Here is a quick background and review of Kenzo Estate a winery that shows its winemaking and terrior (sense of place) extremely well.

Quick Background of Kenzo Estate. For a more through, detailed and eloquently written version please visit their website at www.KenzoEstate.com. Kenzo estate was founded by Kenzo Tsujimoto who first founded Capcom Video Games in Japan and released famous games such as Mega Man and Street Fighter among countless others. With his success, he was allowed the opportunity to pursue a passion and a dream of making world class wine inspired by his love of Bordeaux wines and the 1976 Tasting of Paris. With great success and means, Kenzo hired some of the best in the wine business to help make his dream come true.

He hired famed viticulturist David Abreu to lay out the vineyards and plant the vines to best capture and display their unique South Napa Valley Aspect on Mount George. David has meticulously planted 145 acres of vines for Kenzo Estate and is considered one of the best if not the best in the valley.

Keeping in the fashion of “hire the best to make the best”, Kenzo also hired “the first lady of wine” Heidi Barret as winemaker. Heidi Barrett has been a celebrate wine maker for decades and has celebrated at least 3 – 100 point scores and an acclaimed stint as winemaker at Screaming Eagle among other well recognized and celebrated wineries.

Now that the back brief background is behind us here is my experience at Kenzo Estate.

 

Everything at Kenzo Estate was stellar! The grounds are incredibly beautiful as well as the winery. When you enter through the gate at Kenzo Estate a sense of tranquility and stillness greets you as you drive the winding road to the winery. This is a longer road than one would expect taking 3-5 minutes before you reach… the second gate. As the second gate opens the vineyards are revealed beautifully manicured with hill top and hill side aspects, a genuinely beautiful sight to behold. The winery soon appears after your drive through the vineyards.

Tamamo Dughman the Tasting Room Manager greeted me at the winery entrance and was a very generous and gracious ambassador. My host for the day was Blaze Williams.He was an excellent tasting and tour guide, he was extremely knowledgeable and polished in his execution. Tony Rios the Sales Manager was also very hospitable. My friend Aaron Ramo was out of town during my visit but was able to reach out to Tamamo last minute for me to taste at Kenzo Estate. Again, hospitality here is second to none. Each visitor or group receives their own personal host.

The Wines

Kenzo estate makes 5 wines in total. A white, a rose, and three reds, all Bordeaux style blends. The white and rose were very nice but the reds are the real focus of winery as they are what Kenzo Tsujimoto envisioned at inception. They are the wines I will be talking about.

They show their terrior as well as their wine making process impeccably. The execution of 50/50 new French oak to Neutral oak let the fruit shine and added a beautiful Savory notes to all three reds, not often found in Napa Wines in the typical heavily oaked style.

The Rindo 2015 Red Blend. The nose of this wine is so lovely and fruit is well rounded and easily accessible. A real crowd pleaser and a very special bottle showing riper fruit than the other two reds. Black Cherry, currant, herb, spice, and mineral intermingle in the glass. This wine can be enjoyed today with a respectful decant time and should show well for the next ten years or more. $130

The Murasaki 2015 Right Bank Blend. It displayed an enchanting, very unique and delightful bouquet. The palate kept me trying to identify the unique smells and taste while enjoying the velvety dense and layered viscosity of the wine. The blueberry, herbed plum, earth, mineral and animal were so well integrated into the wine. I got a sense of hoisin as well. A very distinct wine. $280

The Ai 2015 Left Bank Red Blend. This is my favorite wine from the Kenzo portfolio and my favorite wine I tasted out of the 15 or so wineries I visited in my 3-day visit to Napa. It is a very, very special wine! The mouthfeel and weight of the wine is glorious, the savory notes intertwined with red and black fruits, herbs, subtle wood spice and layers of complexity and nuance. I would rate this 97 points! I wish I was a 60-year-old rich guy who could afford to buy cases of this and drink it as a Tuesday night wine… one day! $280

Eighty percent of the Kenzo Estate Wine is shipped back to Japan making it a highly sought after wine for those in the know, which now includes me. Next time you go wine tasting in Napa I would inquire at Kenzo Estate to see if a tasting appointment is available. Then, take a short detour off of The Silverado Trail to taste some of the most elegant and nuanced wines while experiencing unparalleled hospitality. It really is a one of a kind experience that can only be found at Kenzo Estate.

(Kenzo Estate did not give me any incentive or product to write this and actually has no knowledge that I did… unless they read this. My actions of writing this do not represent anything affiliated with Kenzo Estate and all the other legal jargon. I will take it down if I have said anything they don’t like or want published. This was written solely because of my passion for great wines.)