Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bennett Lane Winery

Bennett Lane Winery is well known for their Maximus wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and after tasting it, it is easy to see why. It is an excellent wine at an amazingly reasonable price.  Bennett Lane Winery is about 2.5 miles north of Calistoga and is one of the northernmost wineries in Napa Valley, but well worth the trip.  Their entrance is right on Highway 29 so they are easy to find, but traffic, crowds and parking are usually not an issue.

Bennett Lane Winery was founded by Randy and Lisa Lynch who in 2006 purchased Vigil Vineyards Winery which is not Bennett Lane Winery.  They own 14 acres across from Chateau Montelena in addition to the estate vineyard at the winery.  The Lynch's are NASCAR racing fans and own several racing cars. 

The tasting fee at the time of our visit was $15.  Our tasting started off with the Bennett Lane 2008 Reserve Chardonnay which is sold for $45.  It had 35% malolactic conversion with seven months on French Oak.  6000 cases were produced. I got mostly apple on the nose with mostly apple and pear on the palate.  It was pleasant if not memorable. Next was the very nice Bennett Lane 2006 Maximus. It won double gold at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition and is 64% Cab, 19% Merlot, 9% Syrah, 5% Malbec and 3% Petite Verdot. Purple in color with cherry and chocolate on the nose this was a full bodied, fruit forward Cabernet blend that was easy to drink but still interesting with a very long finish.  I got mostly ripe cherry and mocha on the palate, very round, soft. At $35 a bottle it is a bargain. They had a special sale on it for wine club members at only $24.50, which is in incredible deal.  Next was the Bennett Lane 2005 Merlot, at $47, which we both liked.  This was well balanced, with cherry, soft tannins and a nice, medium plus length finish. Even better was the Bennett Lane 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon that was given 94 points by Robert Whitley.  This had a good aroma with a palate of cherry with soft, well integrated tannins and some vanilla.  It was full bodied but very smooth with a good finish.  This is well worth the $55.  We also tasted the well-balanced Bennett Lane 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at $95 which both of us liked.  Although we enjoyed each pour, the Maximus stood out as a fantastic deal. 

If you like red wines, especially Cabs and Cab blends, you really should visit Bennett Lane Winery.  They have a number of good wineries up that way and some good places for lunch in Calistoga. Wine prices at Calistoga wineries seem less than most other areas of Napa Valley for comparable wines, and there seem to be fewer tourists.  Much thanks to Dave, our host, who was very pleasant and informative.

Bennett Lane Winery
3340 State Highway 128
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-6684
Visited 11/23/2011

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