When Michael Havens decided to focus on the cool Carneros region of Napa Valley for his Merlot and Syrah wines, he was considered something of a maverick. Today, some industry observers refer to the region as Napa Valley's Right Bank and to Michael as the catalyst for making it so.
Since crushing his first batch of grapes in the back of a flatbed truck in 1984, Michael Havens has turned a passion for wine in to a profession. A former Professor of Literature at UC Davis, Havens has become one of the pre-eminent winemakers in California, specializing in world-class Merlot.
Today Michael Havens and his winemaking team craft some of California's most exciting and sought-after Merlot, along with Syrah and a Cabernet Franc-Merlot blend called Bourriquot that is his answer to Bordeaux's famed Cheval Blanc. Known for his consistency of style and attention to artisinal winemaking practices, Havens makes wines that convey the very essence of the vine to the palate: "To artfully interpret what the agriculture offers Â that's my idea of fun, of good work," says Havens.
"Benoni" is a project developed in conjunction with WineAccess for the 2002 vintage. Havens sites the 2002 vintage as being one of the best he's worked with since he founded the winery 20 years ago. While the cool climate of Carneros provides for balanced and aromatically complex Merlot, unusually warm vintages offer wines of great complexity and concentration.
This first release of Benoni Merlot has the richness and ripeness of Napa Merlot made in the warmer microclimates of the county, while still offering the wonderful aromatic complexities of Carneros. Drink now-2010.