I recently received three new releases from a winery I’d not heard of. Interesting factoid: Ron Rubin Brands includes The Republic of Tea. According to the company website, Rubin—who was already a veteran in the beverage industry—”The Republic of Tea, a book about the story and philosophy behind the groundbreaking tea company. Rubin was so inspired, and made an offer to the Ziegler’s and Bill Rosenzweig to purchase The Republic of Tea. Since then, Rubin has been on a mission to seek and procure the most exquisite teas from world premier tea gardens, making them accessible to everyone.” You can read more of Rubin’s story here.
When it comes to winegrowing and winemaking, the estate vineyards are located in Green Valley—a sub-AVA of California’s Russian River Valley. So, no surprise, then, that the wines I received were two styles of Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.
This has become a Briscoe staple. And, unfortunately, sometimes staples go overlooked. This shouldn’t be the case: if there’s something that’s taken up permanent residence in the cellar (or closet as it were at the moment, thank you COVID for taking away my construction workers…), then it’s certainly something worth talking about. So cheers to an everday wine I could probably drink, well, everyday.
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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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…. (more…)
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.