Tag: Russian River Valley

Benziger 2015 Bella Luna 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.

14.5% ABV

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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Gary Farrell 2016 Russian River Selection Pinot Noir

Gary Farrell is a Sonoma classic, no? I know fellow wine lovers—from casual consumers to expert somms—all rave constantly about Gary Farrell. I’m not going to lie, it took me some time to actually taste from the famed estate, but was lucky enough to find it on a menu not too long ago. (I believe it was my birthday actually.)

Since then, I’ve understood what all the raving is about. Solidly structured, with all its rocky river rusticity elegantly balanced with the ripe red fruit flavors known to the region. Russian River Valley does Pinot Noir right and Gary Farrell expresses this so eloquently.

This is a blend of several different vineyards throughout the AVA. And after having tasted this, I’m so curious to taste the winery’s single vineyard expressions. Especially since it sources from some very prestigious vineyards….
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J. Cage Cellars 2016 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir

After experiencing the van der Kamp Pinot Noir I was excited to try J. Cage’s expression of the same varietal from a different vineyard. In conversing with proprietor Roger Beery, he said, “Single vineyards should be the lead singer..not the winemaker.” True, very true. A good winemaker lets the vineyard tell the story. And it’s amazing tasting the two so close together how one can taste, not a winemaking style, but the disparate style of two different pieces of Sonoma. “Let these outstanding vineyards and winegrowers have a voice,” Beery said. And so they do.

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J. Cage Cellars 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir

I feel like I’ve been presenting a lot of rosés lately. I guess it’s the season for it. And what I’m discovering as I taste through all these rosés is that, in the right hands, rosé is not a drink for a season, but can be as timeless as even the finest reds. Of course the French figured this out long ago, and California, we seem to be headed in the right direction.

Conch Beery, winemaker and cellar master for J. Cage Cellars says “As a winemaker, it is my duty to create wines that are true to place, true to the soil, true to the climate, and true to the spirit of the growers. My goal is to translate the magic of each vineyard into every glass of wine.” And it’s evident he gives just as much care and attention to his rosé as he does with any other of his single vineyard, single varietal wines.

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McKahn Family Cellars 2016 Viognier

I’m a Rhone girl. That’s a fact. I love Rhone-style wines and I think that winemakers who are truly focused on those varietals and understand where in California these grapes grow best, craft some of the most beautiful wines. California is no Rhone. Indeed, our West Coast, New World, expression is much more different than what you’ll taste from France. And I love that. I love that we have something that is simultaneously etched in wine history, but uniquely our own.

Charles McKahn, winemaker and co-owner of McKahn Family Cellars is one such winemaker whose passion is infectious. Though his family’s winery is based in Livermore, he’s used his years of experience working in wineries all over California to understand the variations of terroir and sources his Rhone grapes from regions that both grow quality fruit and showcase distinct character.

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