California's Kenwood Vineyards has released a new line of wines, but consumers won't be able to find it in stores -- even though the wines are made in large quantities and are distributed nationally.
Sonoma Valley-based Kenwood -- maker of highly rated Cabernets, Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs and Zinfandels -- has produced four wines specifically for the restaurant and hotel market. The winery's new Yulupa series includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay and a Merlot from Sonoma County and a Zinfandel from the Lodi district in the Central Valley. Yulupa is the name of the Sonoma vineyard from which the Chardonnay and Cabernet (the line's first wines) originated.
Why produce restaurant-only wines? Kenwood's official statement is that the new series was an effort to increase the brand's visibility in this market, and the wines will be priced to encourage by-the-glass sales at about $6 to $7 per glass. Customers may be more likely to buy a wine by the glass at a restaurant's marked-up price if they don't know how much the bottle would cost at retail.
Kenwood's new releases include the 1996 Yulupa Cabernet (85 points), a blend of 70 Cabernet Sauvignon, 13 percent Cabernet Franc and 8 percent Merlot from Sonoma County. It was aged in French and American oak barrels for 22 months, and 11,800 cases were produced.
The other wines, not yet rated, are each made entirely from a single varietal: 1997 Yulupa Chardonnay, made from Sonoma County grapes (20,000 cases); 1997 Yulupa Merlot, from Sonoma County's Dry Creek, Sonoma and Alexander valleys (25,000 cases); and 1997 Yulupa Old Vine Zinfandel, from two turn-of-the-century Lodi vineyards (15,575 cases).
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