Sourced from their vineyards in Sonoma County's Bennett Valley, Matanzas Creek 2004 Merlot is skillfully blendedby Winemaker François Cordesse with small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.The result is a vibrant, ambitious wine representing the winery's 26th vintage of Merlot.
This wine begins with a garnet red color in the glass. A potpourri of fresh herbs arrive with the first nose,including thyme, sage, and clove with hints of hawthorn and quince. Swirling the wine once brings the secondnose of dark boysenberries and velvety cherries. Distinctly spicy, the palate begins with clove, pepper, andquince, followed by a long, smooth finish with blackberry and moist earth notes, reminiscent of deep woodsafter the rain. The wine possesses an exceptional acidic balance complemented by soft tannins. Mineralcharacteristics are just beginning to develop and will, over time, offer additional elegance and complexity.
Matanzas Creek Winery
Founded in 1977, Matanzas Creek Winery is located on the site of a retired dairy farm in Sonoma County's Bennett Valley. In 1985, the original winery, a converted dairy barn, gave way to a modern winemaking facility and since that time the Estate's Bennett Valley vineyards have grown to include over 280-acres of Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah. Vineyard acquisitions in Sonoma Valley, Carneros, Russian River Valley and Knights Valley provide the vineyard management and winemaking teams with an enviable selection of fruit. Sourced from Estate-owned vineyards, the Matanzas Creek wine portfolio includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot, as well as a limited amount of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
As important as the history of the winery itself is its location in Sonoma County's newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), Bennett Valley. Although only formally recognized as an AVA in December 2003, Bennett Valley has a rich history of grape growing dating back to the mid-1800s. Once defined as part of Sonoma County's Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain AVA's, Bennett Valley overlaps with these winegrowing regions but carves out 8,150 acres to call its own (of which 850 acres are planted with grapevines). Three mountains define Bennett Valley and also serve to capture a cool maritime air stream which promotes a cooler, longer growing season that results in more complex wines.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.