2009 Ty Caton Upper Bench Merlot

Mission Codename: The Ty that binds

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: We’ve featured past vintages of Ty Caton’s Upper Bench Merlot, but with reports pouring in about Ty’s 2009, send Agent Red back to the winery to secure an ample allocation of this food-fantastic wine, for our demanding, Merlot-loving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Ty Caton Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2009 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, iridescent maroon, with a thin ring of bright ruby, at the edge of the glass. Skinny, wine-colored tears fall slowly after swirling.

Smell – Lush and layered, with dark cherry, wild strawberry, dark raspberry, leather, dried meats and dark chocolate. Dark tobacco leaf, cigar box and dark leather follow on, as the wine opens up.

Feel – Soft across the front of the palate, then softly grippy as a medium body reveals itself, slowly drying the palate.

Taste – Complex, concentrated and darkly foreboding, flavors begin with ripe blackberry, black cherry, red plum and cassis. These give way to sweet spice, black pepper, dark cocoa powder, soft oak, leather, tobacco and subtle, delicious pencil shavings (graphite and cedar).

Finish – Very long and lingering with black and red fruit gradually yielding to the earthen characteristics of spice, cedar and leather.

Conclusion – Recommended! We absolutely love this wine! Today’s 2009 Ty Caton Upper Bench Merlot is the best we have sampled from Ty Caton. Loaded with juicy, dark fruit this wine finds its balance against fantastic earthy flavors. The soft, elegant feel transforms on the palate, eventually becoming softly dry and slightly grippy as minerals, oak, leather and spice remain behind. As the palate drys, one is encouraged to take another flavor-packed sip. Balanced acidity and great fruit make this wine an obvious food companion. Pair with nearly anything. We paired ours with a wild mushroom risotto and a side of spicy hard chorizo sausage. Absolute perfection!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

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

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