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June 21-27, 2006

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Lavender

Wine Tasting Room of the Week

Matanzas Creek Winery

By Daedalus Howell

At Matanzas Creek Winery, everything is coming up lavender. Over 4,500 individual shrubs of the fragrant, violet herb canvass an acre of the winery's terraced grounds. Now in full, glorious bloom, the lavender suggests a location shoot for a Merchant-Ivory flick as if production-designed in the palette of Dr. Seuss. It's an impressive sight, which will be showcased on Saturday, June 24, as part of the winery's 10th Annual Days of Wine and Lavender Festival, an afternoon celebrating wine, food, music and, of course, lavender.

Overseen by nationally recognized lavender diva Patricia Kaczmarek, the winery's work with the flower includes something of an on-site lavender R&D department to explore its culinary possibilities. Matanzas Creek puts the same rigor into its wines. The 2005 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is a summery ode to lazy afternoons, porch swings and screen doors that resemble entomology labs. The wine boasts a citrus nose and honeydew palate but mercifully lacks the fresh-mowed-lawn factor, which can be grassy and herbaceous, a characteristic often associated with the varietal.

Likewise, winemaker François Cordesse bucks the recent butterball trend in Chardonnays with an airy, light Chard that forgoes lactic tactics for more refined notes of white peach and nectarine. (Wine maven Robert Parker scored the wine a healthy 87--if you care about that kind of thing.)

For contrast, consider the 2001 Jackson Park Merlot, the winery's premier vineyard designate Merlot made by Pierre Seillan, a winemaker who consults for Matanzas Creek and who is responsible for hiring Cordesse. Unlike his protégé's fruit-forward, kick-start of a Merlot (the 2003 Bennett Valley Merlot), Seillan's creation is an extremely subtle affair; actually vague at first, it opens up to reveal echoes of blood orange and a kiss of currant.


The Matanzas Creek Winery 10th Annual Days of Wine and Lavender is slated for Saturday, June 24, from 1pm to 4pm. Matanzas Creek Winery, 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $75, advance purchase required; 21 and over only, please. The tasting room is open daily, 10am to 4:30pm. Tours offered by appointment. 707.528.6464.


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