New L’Autre Côte Brand Showcases Livermore Valley Cabernet Franc:
Posted on March 08, 2021
Livermore, CA, —Steven Kent Mirassou, CEO and Head Winemaker of The Lineage Collection, is proud to unveil the newest brand in the collection: L’Autre Côte. Meaning “the other coast,” in French, it represents the other side of the spectrum of Bordeaux varieties, complementing Cabernet Sauvignon, the foundation of his Steven Kent Winery and Lineage brands, with Cabernet Franc.
“The Livermore Valley has had a long and illustrious history of producing world class quality Bordeaux varieties,” said sixth generation winemaker, Steven Kent Mirassou. “The consistency and prevalence of wind from the San Francisco Bay through our growing area each day is one of the fundamental viticultural conditions that allow us to grow world-class fruit. I’ve been working with Cabernet Franc since 2005 and find it so alluring, so full of elegance and complexity, that even a lifetime of drinking it will never reveal all her mysteries and charms.”
Mirassou currently sources Cabernet Franc (CAF) from two vineyards in Livermore, previously bottling them under the Steven Kent Winery brands and as part of his Lineage Collection. Last year, the 2017 Lineage, which he considers his “finest vintage so far,” was awarded a 100-point score by esteemed wine writer, Steve Heimoff.
The L’Autre Côte brand is launching with two vineyard designates of 2017 Cabernet Franc: the Ghielmetti Vineyard, which Mirassou had a hand in developing, and is now owned and farmed by the Corbett family, and the Sachau Vineyard, planted and farmed by the Wente Family. The wines are being offered to a select mailing list in a two-pack as futures, with up to a 12-bottle maximum allocation available to each member.
These wines are quite limited, due to the dearth of Cabernet Franc planted at both sites, and the high demand these vineyards see from local vintners. There are only 3.5 acres of Cabernet Franc at Ghielmetti, and just 6 acres at Sachau.
Mirassou believes their unique properties make a compelling side-by-side experience, which is why they are being sold as a set.
“Ghielmetti Vineyard tends to produce Cabernet Franc that shows dark fruit notes and a healthy amount of the herbal quality that I associate with the variety,” notes Mirassou. “Sachau Vineyard shows more tannic structure then Ghielmetti, darker fruit, less of the pyrazine tones and less of the ineffability and ephemeral quality that Ghielmetti does. In a general way, Ghielmetti is closer to the Loire Valley presentation of the grape while Sachau tends more toward Right Bank Bordeaux.”
Not only is Cabernet Franc a beguiling grape to Mirassou, but there is a practical reason for his spotlighting the variety. As the earth’s seasons are more and more dramatically impacted by a warming climate, grape growing practices must adjust accordingly.
“Climate change is causing more cool air to come in through the Livermore Valley earlier each day, abbreviating the growing day and necessitating more growing days in the season to get to optimal ripeness for varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Because Cabernet Franc ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, we may find ourselves at some point in time unable to adequately ripen Cabernet Sauvignon before the winter rains come in, but at the same time, having perfect conditions to ripen Cabernet Franc,” notes Mirassou.
The scarcity of the grape in Livermore means that more will need to be planted in order for it to take off as Livermore’s “next grape.” Mirassou has identified at least one additional site that might be ideal for Cabernet Franc.
“The old Raboli Vineyard, which is currently fallow, would be a perfect place to grow more Cabernet Franc, given its extremely rocky and well-drained soil. Over time, I would look to see more Cabernet Franc planted at Ghielmetti vineyard as new blocks are warranted also.”
CAB FRANC SEMINAR: MARCH 25
Wine lovers are invited to join in a virtual Roundtable on March 25, at 10AM PST, called “Cabernet Franc: An Esthetic Exploration.” Panelists: Steven Kent Mirassou of L’Autre Côte, John Skupny of Lang & Reed Napa Valley, and Matthieu Beaudry of Domaine Bernard Beaudry, will share stories, winemaking secrets, and their overwhelming passion for all things CAF. Topics include the history, farming, winemaking, and hedonic deliciousness of the world’s most alluring, bracing, elegant, and sexy grape in the world…CAF.
To register for the Cabernet Franc Roundtable go to: CAFMAR25ZOOM
To join the Wait List for the initial release of L’Autre Côte wines, go to: