Matanzas Creek has been producing Merlot from their Bennet Valley vineyards up in Sonoma County for decades. With its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, their Jackson Park vineyard is at the front line of the cooling effects of the Petaluma Wind Gap which brings marine winds and coastal fog into the valley. These conditions help develop the grapes' aromatic qualities, acidity and tannin structure. This signature Bennett Valley Merlot is sourced from the terraced vineyards of the 110 acre Jackson Park Ranch located 900 feet above the Bennett Valley floor.
Full bodied and dark garnet colored, this signature Merlot was initially harsh and almost unapproachable with tart black cherry, a funky leatheriness and hard tannins. It was more approachable the next day and even more-so becoming smoother and more polished a couple days later, revealing black berry, black currant, clove spice and a layer of anise with hint of tobacco leaf and subtle dark mocha. Firm dry tannins shape the lingering finish. This includes in the blend 14% Cabernet Sauvignon from Matanzas Creek's mountain vineyards in Knights Valley which they contend add additional structure and a rich mouthfeel.
RM 90 points.
This wine is currently available at Chicagoland's Wine Discount Center for $23 representing a good QPR - Quality Price Ratio if one has the peace of mind to not reject it on initial opening and have patience to let it open and settle over a couple days.