Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 15, 2010

Nose to glass

Open to suggestions

By Don Colman

One of the best parts about writing a wine review is the suggestions that come in from readers. Some of these wines I try are spectacular and others, well, not so much. Recently, I had some people send me recommendations that were simply outstanding and are now added to my repertoire of go-to wines.

The first wine, 2005 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon ($55), would typically be a considered a gift wine. I had been saving it for a special occasion -- but simply could wait no more. It turns out that a Saturday night can be a special occasion. The wine is spectacular, to say the least. It is a deep ruby red color with a very powerful aroma to it. The scents are true to the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal: black currants, cedar and even fresh cherries. The taste of the wine is perfectly balanced and smooth, which starts off sweet and then moves to a bitter finish. This Bennett Lane is a big, bold, full-bodied cab that is dry and full of tannins, which give it a mouth filling, chewy feel.

Even more impressive, the wine has already started to age and is ready to drink today or should continue to improve for the next three or four years. We paired this with a grilled filet mignon and it was perfect. It needs to be paired with heavier meats or served alone as the it will over power anything that is too delicate. For a real treat and to taste even more flavors, try this wine with semi-sweet pieces of chocolate as an after dinner treat.

The second wine, 2005 Rutherford Hill Merlot ($25), is priced more as an everyday wine and is also very nice and easy to drink. It is much lighter in color, almost the color of brick, and is a light to medium depth. What it lacks for in color it makes up for with a very aromatic scent: lots of sweet cherries, vanilla and a hint of oak waft out of the glass creating a beautiful bouquet urging you to take a sip. The taste is a medium bodied, slightly dry wine which is light on the tannins yet very complex on the palate.

It moves from a sour to bitter taste, making the food pairing critical. This is a versatile red wine that be could matched to pork, chicken, heavier fish or most pastas. All in all, this is a very nice wine that is a refreshing change from your typical merlot.

Both of these wines were great recommendations from readers. They show how one reader can love a big bold cab while someone else can find pleasure in a more delicate merlot. My best ideas come from those who send me suggestions. If you have a wine you want me to try, email me at I look forward to trying your favorites.

Until next time, cheers!

Don Colman lives in the East Bay and writes a wine blog at


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