I love everything I’ve tasted from Benziger. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re all biodynamic, which means extra time and attention both in the vineyard and in the winery, ensuring that all wines are as natural as possible. Or maybe it’s because despite their popularity (or maybe because of it), they continue to do small lot specialty bottlings that show that family-run is family-run no matter how big or small the business, taking pride in their name, their land, their products.
About the Wine: The Benziger 2015 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Terra Neuma is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the family’s estate vineyard, de Coelo Vineyard, located along the Pacific Coast between Bodega and Freestone. According to the winery, the vineyard experiences fog from the ocean and gets more rain than the are used to here in their Sonoma Valley estate vineyard locations. Thus, they craft the de Coelo Pinot Noirs to showcase the uniqueness they experience in this place:
“Using the Burgundian model for growing Pinot Noir, we farm individual blocks at de Coelo and produce three distinctly different Pinots from this property: Quintus, Terra Neuma and Arbore Sacra. We like to think of our wines from de Coelo as Pinot in 3D; the three dimensions being aromatics, flavor and texture.”
de Coelo is a Demeter-Certified Biodynamic vineyard.
Flavor Profile: The Benziger 2015 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Terra Neumais immediately fragrant the second you open the bottle: boysenberry, soft fertile morning soil, a hint of bushy herbs. And good thing that it is so fragrant because I was experiencing a power outage during my tasting and could not visually enjoy the wine.
Once in the glass, initial aromas are quite floral, along with scents of the freshness of newly ripened red fruits (like raspberry and marionberry). Swirl and bring forward the brightness and acidity. Fruits seem more plushy, like that of purple plums, and there’s a hint of dusty earthiness as well.
The palate of the Benziger 2015 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Terra Neumais is simultaneously bright and dark: bright with the fresh fruits and dark with the dirty dustiness of dry earth. There’s also a subtle background of chocolate. Dominant flavors are of raspberry, boysenberry, marionberry, red plum, and that dusty sandiness. The acid is subtle, but constantly working; tannins are subtle and just slightly dry out the tongue on the finish. The aftertaste is a bit like green bramble, like the stalk of a basil leaf.
Food Pairing: I paired the Benziger 2015 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Terra Neuma with grilled octopus, roasted fingerling potatoes which were tossed in a salad with shaved fresh fennel, caramelized onion, pinenuts, craisens, and arugula. While I did enjoy this pairing, I would not say it was the perfect pairing. I believe that the earthiness of this wine would have been better accompanied by more earthy-sweet roasted vegetables, like beetroot or even squash. Perhaps a more robust protein—chicken thigh, duck breast—would have been more appropriate.
That being said, I still very much enjoyed this wine. And I will also add that as the evening progressed, the wine developed. The mouthfeel became more plushy; the drying finish dissipated; the fruit flavors became more alive.
More Info: I received the Benziger 2015 de Coelo Pinot Noir, Terra Neuma Pinot Noir as a sample for review. Price: $75. For more information about Benziger, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Benziger Family Winery website.
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