Sunday, March 13, 2011

Benmarl Merlot 2008

Benmarl is one of my favorite wineries in the Hudson Valley. I am a sucker for history. And of all the places in the Valley, only one other operating winery has as much, nearby Brotherhood. Benmarl rests on the vineyards originally founded by Andrew Caywood, one of the grestest hybridizers in American history when it comes to grapes. It's his vineyards, originally established before the Civil War, that make Benmarl's vineyards the oldest continously operating vineyards in the United States.

Secondly, the winery, Benmarl, was the brain child of celebrted magazine illustrator Mark Miller, who established Benmarl in 1957, revitalizing Caywoods vineyards. Miller fought for the Farm Winery Act back in the 1970s with John Dyson, and was eventualy rewarded with bonded license No. 1 as the first farm winery in New York state. Mark Miller also made some nice wines. And his son, Eric Miller, eventually went on to start Chaddsford Winery in the Brandywine region of Pennsylvania, now that state's largest commercial winery.

Now Benmarl is owned by the Speccarelli family. Vic Speccarelli, Jr. is the owner, and his son Matt runs the winery now.

Last night Dominique and I were in the mood for a nice red. Normally when I think of Benmarl, I think of their Baco Noir, which is practically a cult wine here in the Valley. But instead I pulled out a Merlot 2008.

The color was a beautiful dark garnet red. The first whiffs of the wine yielded raspberry and and cherry, notes of vanilla and mocha. Tere was big, dark fruit up front on the palate, with dark raspberry and dark cherry coming through, with some leather or fall leaves...something earthy. This was a lovely wine to chew on. The fruit was balanced by medium acids, and medium tannins, which gave the wine great balance. The finish was smooth and comfortable, but just right. This was a lovely drinking merlot with lots of flavor and character.