2008 Ty Caton Sonoma Valley Upper Bench Merlot

Mission Codename: Ty and Ty Again

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Ty Caton Vineyards to retrieve Ty’s delicious 2008 Sonoma Valley Merlot

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Ty Caton Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2008 Upper Bench Merlot, Sonoma Valley, Caton Vineyard

Winemaker: Ty Caton


The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautiful garnet-ruby color with the tiniest pinkish rim. Stained tears show off the intense concentration of color, and thick, medium-slow legs move down the side of the glass.

Smell – Rich, elegant nose of black and red cherry, raspberry, boysenberry syrup, and chocolate-covered cherry. Slight hints of cherry pipe tobacco and dried leaves.

Feel – Smooth and round, medium to full bodied with lovely balance of acidity and fruit; finishes with a slight drying along the gum-line and a warmness at the back of the palate.

Taste – Rich, tart and ripe red fruits give way to more lush black cherry and boysenberry, ending with chocolate, cherry and a hint of dark spice.

Finish – Medium long finish as those full red and black fruits mellow into more of the cherry tobacco and chocolate covered cherry. Low tannins make the finish simple and fruity.

Conclusion – The 2008 Ty Caton Sonoma Valley Merlot is a delicious wine with plenty of character. The wine is warm, fruity, mellow and round with low tannins that make it just as delicious alone as it is with a meal. Try with pork loin with fruit compote or duck with cherries.

Mission Report:



WINE EDUCATION: Various classes at UC Davis, most importantly on the job training.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Minimal intervention – our goal is to let the grapes tell their own story without intervening

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Actively Seeking Excellence



AGENT RED: Greetings, Ty. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Merlot today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

TY: Thanks, Agent Red. It’s nice to be working with you, again.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

TY: Wine tasting in Napa with my cousins.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

TY: Peter Mathis of Ravenswood

RED: Who do you make wine for?

TY: I’m a pleaser by nature – I enjoy entertaining people and wine is intricate part of the socialization process, which I love!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

TY: The Merlot is Estate produced wine from our Upper Bench area in the vineyard. It’s not a typical Merlot – we call it a “Cab drinker’s Merlot.” It’s a Merlot disguised as a cab. It’s complicated & has a lot going on.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

TY: Lamb

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?

TY: Its Diversity

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

TY: Right now we are preparing the wine for racking.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

TY: These wines are somewhat of a cross over – they can be sipped by themselves or enjoyed with a meal.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

TY: Our vineyard grapes are grown certified sustainable through Farming For Flavors grape growing program.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Ty Caton Vineyards & winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

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