Wine Talk

Snooth User: John Andrews

Mantazas Creek Visit …

Posted by John Andrews, Oct 11, 2009.

One of the things that continues to amaze me is the just the sheer number of wineries that there are in Northern California. I’ve been to a lot of them but there are so many more that I have not been to. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to, I dropped in to Mantazas Creek Winery in Bennett Valley.

Mantanzas Creek Winery is one of the historic wineries in Sonoma County. It is up in the Sonoma Mountain range in the Bennett Valley appellation. It is a historic winery that has been in operation for more than 30 years now. Many people know it for its Lavender Garden but it is also known for its wines. It is now owned by the Jackson Family but is run as a separate entity. It isn’t a huge production facility, I think it was quoted at 50,000 cases to me but I forgot to write it down. However, I did remember to take down my tasting notes.

There were multiple tasting options including tours and paired foods. I decided (since I was heading to Loxton to work) to pick a few wines to try.

• 2007 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County $24 (4/5) - Bright fresh wine with grassy and citrus notes. Good acid as expected from a sauvignon blanc and proves that a good sauvignon blanc can come from Sonoma County.

• 2007 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley $29 (3/5) - Somewhat soft style chardonnay. Aromas and taste were a bit muted but were delicate and nicely balanced. Finished with some mineral.

• 2007 Matanzas Creek Pinot Noir, Bennett Valley $35 (3.5/5) - Very nice wine and one that I think will approve with age. Came across as a cross between a Carneros and Russian River Valley Pinot. Red cherry with a hint of caramel in the nose. Strawberry and cherry flavors with good acid.

• 2005 Matanzas Creek Merlot, Jackson Park Vineyard $49 (4/5) - Lighter elegant Merlot. Hard to believe it is 100% merlot as it is complex and has hints of what I’d expect from other varietals. Clean wine with cassis and coffee with nice smoothness and long finish. Would like to see how this ages.

• 2005 Matanzas Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County $35 (3.5/5) - Not quite as intense as I was expecting. Had a little bit of a bite to it that suggested it could use some more time. Otherwise, nice red fruit and great leather and smoky aromas.

Wines not tasted but available when I was there:

• 2008 Matanzas Creek Rose of Merlot, Sonoma County $17
• 2005 Matanzas Creek Merlot, Bennett Valley $35
• 2003 Matanzas Creek Proprietors Blend, Bennett Valley $29
• 2005 Matanzas Creek Syrah, Sonoma County $25
• 2006 Matanzas Creek L’Ultime, Sonoma County $35 - syrah based dessert wine

Matanzas Creek is a bit out of the way but it definitely worth a visit. When the lavender is in bloom it can overpower the aromas of the wine but the wine is worth a look. Many of the grapes for the wines are sourced directly from Bennett Valley and display uniqueness amongst Sonoma County wines. I can only describe it as terrior.

Matanzas Creek:
6097 Bennett Valley Road
Santa Rosa, California 95404
Telephone: 800.590.6464 or 707.528.6464
Fax: 707.571.0156


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 12, 2009.

Arguably the first California Cult, Matanzas Creek Merlot sparked a frenzy that almost propelled Merlot to the heights of Pinot Noir, for a couple of years in the mid eighties. I remember visiting in 1984 or so. The flowers n the approach to the winery stick out more in my memory than the wines.

Sounds like the wines are worth revisiting. Thanks for the great report!

Reply by John Andrews, Oct 12, 2009.

Yes, I would agree, they are worth visiting again. The people there are solid and I think the wines are showing some good things. I think KJ has stepped back from trying to make them a national brand to one of their 'boutique' producers.

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