What We Say 2006 Maximus Red Feasting Wine
Today’s wine earned a special spot in our annual Wine Intrigue Awards line-up, when it won -
Top Red Blend
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Last year, we awarded the 2005 vintage of this wine with a Wine Spies Intrigue Award for Best Red Blend. Today’s wine, the 2006 Red Maximus lives up to the tradition, by delivering a bolder rendition of Bennett Lane’s signature red wine.
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Mission Codename: Spartacus!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Bennett Lane in the Napa Valley, secure their newest Red Maximus, a wine that was very popular with our Operatives in its previous vintage
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Bennett Lane Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Maximus – Red Feasting Wine
Winemaker: Grant Hermann
Backgrounder:The Napa Valley, best known for producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, also produces some of the finest red blends available. For today’s fantastic wine, Agent Red was dispatched to Bennett Lane Winery in Calistoga at Napa Valley’s northern end. An homage to the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus, Bennett Lane’s 2006 Maximus is a wine fit for roman nobility – and for you
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and foreboding, with dark mulberry hues and a nearly opaque core. At the edges, a thick band of red plum color rings the glass. When the wine settles – after a good swirl – skinny legs move slowly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Darkest blackberry, cranberry and bramble lead the way, followed by more subtle aromas of cocoa dust, bramble, dried purple flowers, softest cedar and mild dark spice.
Feel – Light and cool at the very front of the palate, then soft and round across the mid. When the wine hits the rear of the tongue, tannins reveal themselves, spreading a gradual dryness forward from the back.
Taste – Like last years vintage, this wine is boldly dark and very flavorful, leading with dark blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and black cherry. After a moment, cedar, dark chocolate dust, cherry, dried rose petals and spice also appear.
Finish – Dark and flavorful, with pronounced dark mixed berry and flinty spice. As these taper off, soft leather and mineral-driven cocoa powder show up and then gradually fade away.
Conclusion – Bolder and more robust than the 2005 ’Max, this 2006 shows a sturdier profile than its older brother. Flavors and aromatics are bold, but in check. The mouth feels is balanced, delivering a great deal of complexity, but not without elegance. We paired our review bottles with summer BBQ and the wine was a perfect companion. We found that the wine improved a great deal after decanting. After 30 minutes, the wine softened and revealed more elegance and better flavors. This wine holds true to the Maximus tradition, but delivers a little extra oomph than previous vintages. Once again, Bennett Lane has crafted a wine worthy of Emperors and Empresses!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
Gant Hermann joined Bennett Lane in 2005 as Cellar Master. In line with the owners winemaking philosophy, Grant’s focus at Bennett Lane is to produce well-endowed, handcrafted wines from uncompromised vineyard sources—be it the Lynches’ own estate vineyard in Calistoga or a select parcel in Oakville.
Grant brings new meaning to the term “drink locally.” The down-to-earth Napa Valley native was raised in Yountville and attended Vintage High in Napa. Today he not only works with some of Napa’s top vineyards at Bennett Lane, but he is also a part-time firefighter in the town of Calistoga, where he resides today with his wife Elizabeth and kids Aiden (5) and Chloe (7).
He gained early vineyard experience on his family’s one-acre parcel of Chardonnay in Yountville, and opted for applied education to hone his craft in winemaking. “I’m a hands-on winemaker and have been fortunate to align myself with great mentors over the years. I truly enjoy being intimately involved in the transition of grape to wine,” he told us.
Before getting into the wine industry, Grant spent the latter half of the 1980s working simultaneously in construction while waiting tables at some of Napa’s top restaurants when the area was just developing as a tourist destination. In 1990, he took a job as a harvest worker for Cain Vineyard and has been in the wine industry ever since. He subsequently spent over a decade working at Sterling Vineyards in many capacities, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to get his “hands purple” when he joined boutique producer Bennett Lane Winery in 2005.
In his spare time, Grant savors every minute he can with his friends and his family. He also enjoys coaching tee-ball, mountain biking, boating, golfing, and occasionally embarrassing himself with his guitar at open-mic night at the Calistoga Inn.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Bennett Lane Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Bennett Lane Winery
Awards & Accolades:
Double Gold Medal – San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
At long last, our new 2006 Maximus is available. This is still the best deal in the Napa Valley! With more Cabernet in this blend than ever before, this deal has gotten even sweeter!
The blend on the 2006 Maximus is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Syrah and 5% Malbec. The wine opens with buoyant aromas of blackberry, violets and chocolate covered cherries. On the palate, the wine displays flavors of dark berries, mocha and caramelized cherries. With elegant, velvety tannins, the wine has a long fruit driven finish and pairs well with practically everything.
About The Winery:
Follow Napa Valley’s Route 29 north to Calistoga, and then keep going just 2 1/2 more miles. You’ll arrive at the pinnacle of the Napa Valley – the northernmost wedge where the Vaca mountain range meets the Mayacamas range. Here you will also find Bennett Lane Winery, sitting snugly at the edge of its own well-maintained Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard.
Owners Randy and Lisa Lynch purchased the property only five and a half years ago, but Bennett Lane is already making a splash in wine country with its lush textured Cabernet Sauvignon and a no-nonsense red wine varietal blend called Maximus, composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The winery has garnered an incredible thirteen 90+ Point Scores from Wine Spectator in four short years.
Maximus leads the way in Bennett Lane’s quest to produce high quality Napa Valley red wine. The 2002 Maximus was named the Top Value Napa Valley Cabernet for the 2002 vintage by Wine Spectator’s James Laube and the 2003 Maximus made a splash with a 90 Point rating from the Wine Spectator. Our newest vintage, 2005 Maximus, was also awarded 90 Points by Wine Spectator and was named an “Outstanding Vallue”.
The Cabernet Sauvignon program at Bennett Lane has two stars shining, the Napa Valley Cabernet and the Primus Reserve Cabernet. Our 2003 Vintages were both listed among the Top 50 Cabs in Napa for the year, with the Reserve scoring a stellar 93 Points. The 2004 releases followed suit, with a 91 Point Score for the Reserve and 92 Points for our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Our latest release is the 2006 Reserve Cabernet, scoring 92 Points in Wine Spectator.
About The Winemaker:
With more than 20 years of Napa winemaking under his belt, Rob Hunter joined Bennett Lane Winery as Winemaker in April 2005. Most recently Rob served as Vice President and Director of Winemaking for Sterling Vineyards, where he revolutionized Sterling’s wine style and defined the winery as a pioneer and leader in the Napa Valley. He also previously held posts as winemaker for Markham Vineyards, Vice President and Winemaker for Lyeth Winery and Winemaker and General Manager from Robert Keenan Winery. At Bennett Lane, Hunter will oversee production of the winery’s signature Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and Maximus, a ‘red feasting wine’ a whimsical blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.
‘Working with Bennett Lane Owner Randy Lynch is an exciting prospect. Randy and I have similar palates; we are both very much attracted to intense black cherry fruit and a big jammy style,’ said Hunter. ‘In addition, working with Bennett Lane offers me the chance to help guide and shape the winemaking direction of a newer winery.’
Randy Lynch commented, ’I’m thrilled to be working with Rob, and I think it’s great to have him on board.’
Rob lives in St. Helena. An avid trail runner, woodworker and gardener, Rob also has a daughter, Haley.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Varietal: Maximus Red Feasting Wine
Appellation: Napa Valley
Harvest Date: October 2006
Aging: New and once used French and American Barrels
Bottling Date: February 2008