Benziger has a long-standing family reputation in Sonoma. The family made the migration to California’s northern wine country when it was still had its “wild west” status and together groomed the land to make some top quality wines. Since 2000, all four of Benziger’s estate vineyards have been officially certified Biodynamic, meaning they’ve eliminated the use of all synthetic materials, encourage biodiversity in the field, and nurture a closed nutrient system. The effects? Well let’s have a taste and see, shall we?

About the Wine: The Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Benziger estate vineyards located in the Russian River AVA of Sonoma County, California. The grapes were hand-harvested and then, instead of crushing, were gently destemmed, keeping whole berries intact. The fruit and juice cold soaked in open top fermenters for five days and underwent all native yeast fermentation. The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels.

14.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir and breathe in beautiful aromas of blackberry, brambly bushes, wet oak wood, and barbecue smoke. This Pinot Noir is a deep-set cranberry color on the pour, settling into the glass a bit lighter, more pink, and perfectly penetrable.

This wine is immediately aromatic, giving off aromas of cranberry, raspberry, Queen Anne cherries, a hint of vanilla, and soft floral scents. Swirl, and get a bit of wood, earth, and green shrubbery.

The palate of the Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir displays immediate acidity, a good medium body that has a background of tannins working as the outline or outer structure of the wine. The flavors are true to the nose, and are predominantly fruit forward, with a finish speaking highly of that bright acidity and cranberry flavor. Dominant flavors are of cranberry, raspberry, fennel, and hints of chocolate, dried eucalyptus, and basil.

Food Pairing: I paired the Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir with grilled chicken and roasted butternut squash tossed with dried cranberries, caramelized onions, wilted spinach, and topped with a light mozzarella.

Though this wine hints at complexity, it is absolutely friendly and can be paired with a mid-week meal like this. What I loved was the acidity in the Pinot Noir — it perfectly cut through the “richness” of the butternut squash. As the wine opened up throughout the evening, more of those floral notes came to play in the palate as well. I believe the caramelized onions in the dish helped elevate that component, rounding out the balance between fruit and earth in the wine, and meal, as a whole.

More Info: I received the Benziger Family Winery 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Natalie!) Price: Not yet available online. For more information about Benziger, their wines, and to purchase available wine directly, please visit the Benziger Family Winery website.

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