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Longevity Wines and Livermore Cabernet Sauvignon

Longevity Wines

A new project brought me to Livermore. I found a 90 point Cabernet, if you care about critical acclaim.

Hi, guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’ll hold this up so you can get a little bit better look at it. This is a Longevity Cabernet Sauvignon, so this came to me as part of a little bit of a side project I’m working on called Winemaker TV.

Longevity’s a Cab from Livermore. If you’re not familiar with Livermore, so there’s this long history of wine regions popping up 45 minutes or an hour or so via car away from major population centers. We’ve seen that … call it away from Paris. Most of Chianti, 45 minutes to an hour from either Rome or Florence. Here, San Francisco has led to the rise of Napa and Sonoma, which are about that distance

If you’re not familiar with Livermore, so there’s this long history of wine regions popping up 45 minutes or an hour or so via car away from major population centers. We’ve seen that … call it away from Paris. Most of Chianti, 45 minutes to an hour from either Rome or Florence. Here, San Francisco has led to the rise of Napa and Sonoma, which are about that distance. If you walk it back pre-Prohibition, Livermore was actually maybe even perhaps a quality leader in Northern California wine. They’re about that distance east.

To be honest, the market didn’t come back in Livermore after the Prohibition the way that it did in Napa and Sonoma. There’s a few good reasons for that. The building of The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the primary ones. It made access to Napa and Sonoma a heck of a lot easier from the city than it had been previously. Livermore is experiencing this Renaissance and Cabernet Sauvignon is their go to as you would expect it to be.

It’s almost a strange place to go out to because you’re in what looks like a strip mall and then you look out and you see apartment buildings and suburban master track development, and then oh, there’s a vineyard. Sometimes those vineyards predate everything else that has been built around it, but it doesn’t look like how we expect wine country to look like. It looks like the suburbs just happened to have grapes growing. It makes it a little bit unique.  It reminds you a little bit of Temecula, although Temecula in Southern California is perhaps stranger to the eye because you drive through what looks like suburban developments and then all of a sudden there’s almost a dividing line and then you hit wine country. It looks like wine country. There’s none of the houses and the vineyards and there’s not any of the subdevelopment anymore. Livermore, everything’s intermixed, which is interesting.

Longevity is a project and a winemaker and his wife, Phil and Debra, do a really good job with it. Everything’s done under one roof. They have this crazy press from, it’s almost 100 years old that they use. It’s in-between a basket press and the more standard button press. You jump everything and you hit the button and two minutes later everything’s pressed together. This is very, very labor intensive at Longevity and it’s a project that I think is worth it to tell the tale a little bit. Livermore Cab is really gaining a little bit more of a foothold. It is warmer in Livermore than it is in Napa and Sonoma. You get winemakers that are really having to focus on finding acidity in here. I guess the best versions of Livermore Cab have more tannin and more structure, but also more acidity. That’s where they’re going with most of what I’m tasted from Livermore.

It’s an interesting look at the market and how much acidity and how much structure will the market bear. In essence, they’ve moved even more completely away from the European model. From lower fruit, lower structure and having more of everything. It’ll be interesting to see how they come out on the other side.

Longevity Wines Back LabelThis Longevity label is one of the clear winners in terms of quality. Livermore filled this. Good job on both blends and a single vineyard, in single varietals. He’s one of the few guys who don’t own a vineyard, but is sourcing from across the street from where he’s making the wine. That makes it interesting in itself, plus it’s a good visit. Once again, I don’t know if this will show up in a wine club shipment, but I think it’s worth a mention, especially in terms of Livermore Cabernet. They’re coming up in quality and I think this is something that you’re going to see an increasing number of Livermore Cabs make it to market. I don’t know if it’s going to be in San Francisco or if they’re going to focus their efforts elsewhere, but I think especially if they can tell the tall tale about what went on in Livermore pre-Prohibition, I think they have an opportunity to gain some market share. Once again,

Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Hope everybody’s having a good week so far.

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