5455 Greenville Road, Livermore, CA 94550 (map link)
Bent Creek Winery is located in the scenic rolling hills of the Livermore Valley. It’s adjacent to several other winery tasting rooms, making it a convenient destination when you’re tasting around here.
The tasting room experience here was the exact opposite of the one at the unnamed, unwelcoming winery. The unnamed winery’s tasting room was large, nearly empty, and we couldn’t get any attention from the (at best) indifferent staff. Here, the tasting room is on the small side, it was overflowing with people, yet we felt very welcome and got personal service from the outstanding staff. It was a festive, fun experience.
Bent Creek has a deep list of wines for tasting, including three (three!) dessert wines.
These are from Livermore Valley AVA, except as noted.
Note: As my palate gets fatigued it gets more sensitive to tannins. I’m not really sure if Bent Creek’s offerings are actually more tannic than the other wines we tasted today, or if I was just more sensitive to them at this point (it was our last tasting of the day). In any case, the tannins were never overwhelming in these wines, they were well-matched with the other flavor components. I just thought I should mention it, since tannins appear in my notes for every red we tasted here.
2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino County): An ideal summer sipper, this wine had an abundance of tropical fruit on the nose and tongue, including pineapple, guava and citrus, but with a little warmth to temper the bright flavors.
2009 Chardonnay: This has a lovely pear scent and flavor and a hint of oak, with a rich character. I detected a note of coffee in the aroma which I found intriguing.
2008 Cabernet Franc: My note upon sniffing this: “Tanninberry!” I’ll admit, I haven’t learned to love Cab Franc yet, but in Bent Creek’s the tannins are well-matched to the fruit, and there were pleasing notes of tobacco and earth.
2007 Syrah: I got a whiff of lipstick here, in addition to mild fruit. If I had been blind tasting I would have guessed this was a Pinot Noir – it wasn’t as bold or spicy as many Syrahs. It was a nicely structured wine with a good balance of tannins and fruit.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Toasted sugar greeted my nose then gave way to an aroma of red fruit. The tannins are evident again here. I’d call this a medium-bodied wine, with mild fruit and a slightly malty flavor.
2008 “Red On Red” Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah play nicely together in this blend. There’s an aroma of toasted sugar, and the flavor is dark with notes of tobacco, grape and tannins. This is a pretty bold wine and would be excellent paired with meats or spicy foods.
2007 Zinfandel: An enticing aroma leads into a more fruit-forward flavor enhanced with spice and framed by tannins with a toasty character.
2008 Petite Sirah: The fruit on the nose is almost cranberry. This has a richer, darker flavor than many of the other reds here, with tannins that provide solid structure without overpowering the fruit.
2007 Port (Amador County): This offers a lovely sweet, rich aroma. The first flavor to present was alcohol, followed by sweetness, then more alcohol. I felt the alcohol flavor was too dominant here.
2007 Petite Port: I got a rich, fatty aroma here. On the palate this has a very creamy mouthfeel. Sweet fruit is mated with tannins and minerals.
2007 (or 2009?) Zinfandel Port: I wrote this down as a 2009, but the Bent Creek website lists a 2007. I most likely wrote it down wrong. Just thought you should know. Anyway, the aroma of this port was sweet and raisiny, reminding me strongly of Viognier dessert/ice wines I’ve tasted. Based on aroma alone, that’s what I would have guessed it to be. I would have changed my guess upon tasting it though. It was very much like a liquid version of brandied cherries in chocolate. This was my favorite of the three ports.
We send our thanks to the staff and winemakers of Bent Creek Winery for an excellent experience tasting wonderful wines!