6097 Bennett Valley Rd
Santa Rosa, CA
fermentation tanks and barrels
There is a Matanzas Creek that runs through Bennett Valley. There is a Matanzas Creek Reservoir on Matanzas Creek and created by a really nice grass covered earthen dam. The waters of Matanzas Creek eventually go into the Pacific Ocean. The winery Matanzas Creek is obviously is named after Matanzas Creek, and the winery is located across the street from Matanazas Creek. We discovered Matanzas Creek Winery when we were visiting N. CA in 2005. We were able to taste a 2003 cab and I discovered that I liked, at least this one, CA cab! The only other cabs I had before this were big bulk cab wines from KJ, RM, and others that are not even worth writing in initials. Since I liked the cab so much, I wanted to find out a little more about this vineyard and winery.
The vineyard was founded by Sandra MacIver in 1978. SM was the heir to the Sears Roebuck lost all of her inheritance, but finally dug herself out of debt with Matanzas Creek Winery. SM priced her wines, and the Merlot at unheard of prices at the time (approx. $70/bottle) and led the wine status snob to believe that her wine was so exclusive, that they would be A-listers if they were deemed worthy to have a bottle of SM wine. (Women of Wine: The Rise of Women in the Global Wine Industry, A. B. Matasar, 2006). Well, SM did it, and put Merlot on the map of California wines. Then, I thought I read somewhere that the Matanzas Creek Merlot fields met with disease that wiped out the grapes. In 2000, Jess Jackson of the Kendall-Jackson empire bought the winery, and Sandra MacIver went into semi-retirement. JJ brought back the vineyard and winery to all its splendor, and expanded the varietals to be had, including producing a really nice cabernet sauvignon.
I believe it was 2002 that was the first year JJ produced the Matanzas Creek cab, and in 2005 is when we first tasted this wine. We were so happy with it, and bought a couple of bottles to bring back with us. 2010 is the year when I believe the 2002 is really ready to enjoy. The 2002 is a big full flavored wine with dark berry flavor, some tannins and significant oak from being aged in French oak for about 2 years. Over the five years of drinking the 2002, the tannins have mellowed out as time has gone on, and 2010 seems to be the perfect time to drink this wine because of the perfect balance of fruit and tannins. We have a couple 2005 cabs in waiting, and I am wondering how the 2005s will be. I was told that 2005 was a late, but the absolutely perfect growing year with exceptional wines in both Sonoma and Napa valleys.
We have talked about Matanzas Creek wine on and off for 5 years, we have gotten Matanzas Creek wine from the store now and again, and we are always pleased with our wine. When we found ourselves on the the west coast recently, we had a rather full schedule, but I scheduled a day off for us, so we could get back to Matanzas Creek, and taste some wine. To my surprise, the man, not only scheduled a wine tasting, he scheduled The Wine Tasting, in the Matanzas Creek special tasting room with the perfect cheese pairing and Marcona almonds. We were glad to hear about these wines as we tasted them. What I really enjoy about hearing about the wines is that our wine host talked about where the grapes are grown, how the grapes grown, what the weather was like during the growing year, and how the juice was fermented and aged. When he talked about the wine, it is very much like how I talk about my food (if people will listen). I will talk about what farm or my yard, what soil and compost is there, if the seed is heirloom or not, how the seed was planted, if the growing practices are organic or not, and does the farmer (or me) irrigate. For some geeky reason, I really like knowing the details of where food and grapes are grown, how they are grown and how they are harvested. It makes me feel like I am in touch with my food and drink.
Matanzas Creek Winery has changed our minds about Sauvignon Blanc. At one time, we thought we did not like this type of wine, but we enjoyed both the SB at Matanzas Creek so much, that we gotta have it. This SB is sold out, and it is not sold in any retail store. We are a bit S.O.L. But, I can remember how it is, it is the perfect balance of all qualities of wine, it is not too sweet, it is not too sour, it has a nice aroma, it has a deep yellow color, it is perfect to just sip on, and it also perfect with a fresh wine country inspired meal. This wine is the only wine at Matanzas Creek that is not mechanically juiced, it is juiced by stomping. All of the staff at Matanzas Creek claim they have stomped these grapes in 2008 to create this wine. I recently called them and talked to someone I had not spoken to before, and she said that she did stomp the grapes, and the staff had a great time doing it. If ever the Helena Bench comes on the market again, you bet I will be there to get some, feet and all.