This is a continuation of my short series (trilogy?) of Hahn Family Wines’ Lucienne portfolio, stemming from my first, more-personal write-up featuring the Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir. Unlike Doctor’s Vineyard, I’m not as familiar with Lone Oak Vineyard, even though I had tasted from this vineyard during my time at the Hahn Winery. According to the winery, the146-acre certified sustainable Lone Oak Vineyard is at the northern-most end of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Cooled by ocean breezes from the Monterey Bay, the morning fog lingers until afternoon winds pick up, resulting in a long, cool growing season. The vineyard is situated on east-facing slopes with elevations ranging between 180 and 500 feet, and well-draining ancient alluvial soils.
Last week I posted a rather personal anecdote about Hahn’s Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is another from that same label, this one hailing from Doctor’s Vineyard—a vineyard I’ve become quite acquainted with in my tasting around the Santa Lucia Highlands. During my time at Hahn Family Winery, we dove deep into what differentiates their various vineyards. The Doctor’s Vineyard isn’t the highest nor the lowest elevated of the estate vineyards, but is right in the center of the SLH AVA. Thus, it receives a bit more sunlight than other portions. And wider vine row spacing (11 feet by 7 feet) means these Pinot Noir grapes get quite a bit of sun exposure after the morning Monterey fog blows off. So what exactly does that all taste like?
There’s been a lot going on and, yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I didn’t realize people would notice until, well, people started to notice. So thank you to those of you encouraging me to keep my private writing space up and running.
A lot has been changing over the last year. I’m now a full-time wine writer—so I am traveling, tasting, and writing a whole lot more. I’m busy constantly learning about all sectors of the wine industry, from the vineyard to the tasting room. I love it.
Please check out my updated About page. I’m also currently working on a page linking back to my professional work. For now, please Connect with me on LinkedIn where you can find current and past clips.
So, what exactly does all this personal stuff have to do with the Lucienne Smith Vineyards Pinot Noir?
Being a biodynamic wine producer is not easy. There’s so much detail that goes into both the farming practices and the winemaking methods. So for a family like the Benzigers who have their fingertips in vineyard locations throughout the Sonoma region, the ability to maintain that integrity, those high standards, is admirable.
From the winery:
“On the far East side of the Russian River Valley, just on the border of the Green Valley AVA lies Bella Luna, one of our four Estate Biodynamic vineyards. Bella Luna is planted with 100% Pinot Noir vines, and with its rolling hills, surrounding pine trees and bright, clear nights, it’s no wonder that we named this special place ‘Bella Luna’ which means ‘Beautiful Moon.'”
About the Wine: The Benziger 2015 Bella Luna Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Benzigers’ estate vineyard, Bella Luna. The 9-acre vineyard is planted completely to Pinot Noir, clones 115, 667, and 777, and enjoys Goldridge and fine sandy loam soils.
Bella Luna is Demeter certified biodynamic.
Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Benziger 2015 Bella Luna Pinot Noirand find decadent aromas of chocolate and black cherry jam. This Pinot Noir is a vampiric red on the pour, settling into the glass a clear jewel-like red-violet that fades to an almost pink hue along the perimeter. Initial aromas are of cranberry, pomegranate, milk chocolate, and thyme. Swirl and find the juiciness, the roundness, the freshness, of those scents.
The palate of the Benziger 2015 Bella Luna Pinot Noir is light, but full, round. The oak is present on the palate and the acid hits about ¾ of the way through, waking up the tastebuds before a slightly tannic, drying finish. Dominant flavors are of oak wood, vanilla bean, red cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, and a bit of basil.
Food Pairing: I paired the Benziger 2015 Bella Luna Pinot Noir with an herb crusted rack of lamb, pea puree, and a side salad. Well, I must say this was a fantastic meal with a fantastic wine. So much so that I did not take any specific wine notes during the course of the meal. But what I can say is that the vivacity of the meal perfectly contrasted the heartiness and richness of the lamb, while simultaneously complimenting the herb components in both the puree and the salad.
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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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.