We met Eric Flanagan when we were tasting at Vintners Collective in downtown Napa. Eric was there speaking to Garret about the possibility of carrying their wines. Eric and Paul hit it off in the tasting room and we were invited to visit Eric at his Bennett Valley vineyard on the Friday during our stay. We couldn’t refuse! Armed with the gate codes we made our way to Bennett Valley after our tasting at J Vineyards.
Wow – we thought as we entered Gate #1 – good thing it doesn’t snow here in the winter. It’s a heck of climb on a narrow and winding road but the reward at the top of Gate #2 was fantastic! What an amazing view! We were met by Eric who took us into the winery and explained his operation. They use a Vaslin-Bucher basket press and get 30% lower juice per ton than a regular bladder press. This type of press doesn’t extract the harsh tannins. Then the juice is put in these 4 ton oak fermentation tanks. For their Chardonnay they have a steel tank designed to match the oak tanks. After all you have to match!
We moved out into the vineyard which was planted in 2001 and 2002 with 6.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5 acres of Merlot and 5.5 acres of Syrah. Eric explained to us that they get low yields at 1 ton per acre and they farm sustainable. Production is at approximately 700 cases of wine.
We did taste the Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet which were all extremely good and well crafted by their winemaker Philippe Melka. Philippe is very detailed and a perfectionist and it shows in the wines!