I am so excited to finally get a sip of Riverbench — a winery out of Santa Maria, California I’ve heard so much about but had yet to taste. Even if you’re not familiar with the winery itself, you may recognize the name, as many iconic wineries have sourced grapes from this little piece of Santa Barbara County since the vineyard was established in 1973. The Riverbench Vineyard consists of 115 acres of Pinot Noir and 15 acres of Chardonnay. The team recently planted a few acres of Pinot Meunier, which they hope to have ready to play with this year.

Riverbench has been SIP Certified since 2008.

About the Wine: The Riverbench 2014 Blanc de Noirs is made from 100% Pinot Noir harvested from the Riverbench estate vineyards located in Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. The wine is made in the the traditional méthode champenoise.

Winemaker: Clarissa Nagy

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Riverbench 2014 Blanc de Noirs and breathe in green apples and citrus zest immediately. There’s only the faintest undercurrent of yeast that already just provides the structural integrity to a clearly flavorsome sparkling wine.

The color is perfectly Champagne-yellow, both on the pour and into the glass. Initial aromas emit more lime than initially perceived, along with nuttiness and a white rose scent. Swirl to reveal those nuts are macadamia nuts, and breathe in a subtle sweetness that you may at first detect as white chocolate, but deeper breathing will tell you it’s marzipan. Again, the nose tells you that there is body and integrity here — you can almost smell the roundness of a well balanced Pinot Noir.

The palate of the Riverbench 2014 Blanc de Noirs is very dry and almost textural — maybe more of a cube than a sphere (if talking about the roundness). Dominant flavors are of lemongrass, lime zest, and rose petals.

Food Pairing: While I enjoyed the Riverbench 2014 Blanc de Noirs as an aperitif and without food, the slight texture and intense aromas lend itself well to a food pairing. I would gladly drink this again and accompany it with any hearty fish dish — from salmon to halibut, or even a mahi or tuna steak. Sides shouldn’t overwhelm either the fish nor the wine.

More Info: I received the Riverbench 2014 Blanc de Noirs as a sample for review. (Cheers Faith!) Retail: For more information about Riverbench, their wines, SIP Certification, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Riverbench Wines website.


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