Benziger Pinot Noir Program Now Shines
Benziger Family Winery has achieved a well-deserved reputation for pioneering sustainable, organic and
Biodynamic© winegrowing in Sonoma County. In the past, Pinot Noir was not the winery’s main focus, but if
you visit the website home page now, you will see Pinot Noir prominently touted including a special 3rd Annual
Winemaker Pinot Noir Cellar Dinner on March 6, 2010 in the Benziger Wine Caves. At this dinner, winemakers
Mike Benziger and Rodrigo Soto are to lead the attendees through a collection of limited production, single
vineyard and estate Pinot Noirs.
The Benziger family has been growing grapes on Sonoma Mountain for close to thirty years. In the mid 1990s,
Mike Benziger befriended Alan York, one of the leading international experts on biodynamic farming. The
resulting transition to biodynamic farming resulted in a higher caliber of Benziger wines.
Chilean-born Rodrigo Soto joined Benziger as director of winemaking in 2006 and manages the Signaterra
winemaking program. The Signaterra wines are premium vineyard designated varietals including Pinot Noir,
Sauvignon Blanc, and a Bordeaux blend. Soto’s experience with biodynamic farming dates to his work as
winemaker at Matetic Vineyards in San Antonio, Chile. He works in tandem with Mike Benziger who acts as
General Manager and primary winemaker for the Tribute line of Benziger wines.
The newest vintage of Pinot Noirs are wines you can really get your teeth into and are highly recommended.
All four of the wines reviewed below are charming and beautifully balanced, and picking one out for special
merit is really just a matter of personal preference. Winemaking is traditional for Pinot Noir. After destemming,
the whole berries are fermented in open top fermenters and cold soaked for 5 to 6 days. Native
yeast powers primary and secondary fermentations.
Benziger wines are available online at www.signaterra.com and www.benziger.com. The Sonoma Mountain
tasting room is open daily and special estate vineyard tours and tastings are available by appointment
2007 Signaterra Benziger Bella Luna Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.50, 1,350 cases, $49. The Bella Luna
Vineyard is one of the coolest vineyards in the Russian River Valley.
Clones 115, 667 and 777 are planted in Goldridge soils and the vineyard
is now in transition to official Demeter Biodynamic© certification. Aged 11
months in 35% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the
glass. Haunting aromas of darker berries, oak vanillin and toast. Very tasty
panoply of purple fruits with hints of cranberry and pomegranate. Rich and
persuasive on the palate filling the mouth with pleasure and leaving a smooth
and soft imprint on the pleasing finish. A fruit driven style with restrained tannins
and a hint of lemon peel on the lively finish. A lovely wine that will find many fans.
2007 Signaterra Benziger Giusti Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.47, 825 cases, $49. From a 7-acre vineyard planted in 2000 to
clones 667, 115 and 777. The vineyard is located in one of the warmer areas of
the Russian River Valley, nicknamed the “banana belt” of the appellation.
Certified sustainably grown. Aged in 35% new French oak for 11 months.
nose displaying aromas of Bing cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cut flowers
and herbs. Delicious black cherry bombast that is discreetly concentrated and
embellished with notes of dark chocolate, cola, spice and edible flowers. Silky
and delicate, this wine is quite charming with respectable length on the pleasing
finish. Very good.
2007 Signaterra Benziger San Remo Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.62, 650 cases, $49. 5.24 acres planted to
Dijon 115, 667 and 777 in Goldridge series soils. Farmed sustainably.
Aged 11 months in 35% new French oak.
I just loved the nose of delicately
spiced cherries. Lovely and generously flavored dark red cherry,
strawberry and rhubarb fruit with the faintest underpinning of oak, loamy earth
and spice. Juicy and bright with the fruit-forwardness that has made Russian
River Valley Pinots so desirable.
2007 de Coelo Benziger Quintos Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.48, 475 cases, $69. Sourced from an estate vineyard located
in the Freestone Occidental area five miles from the Pacific Ocean. 25 acres,
Demeter Certified Biodynamic©, at the edge of where Pinot Noir will grow.
Yields 2 tons per acre. Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak.
Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs for its more savory, mineral-driven and
earthy core. Aromas of wild dark berries, sweet pipe tobacco, forest floor and
oak char. Intense and dense on the palate featuring the pure essence of dark
red and black berries robed in sweet oak with a hint of citrus in the
background from zippy acidity. Very smooth in the mouth with restrained tannins. Will need time to fully
integrate the oak. This wine will appeal more to lovers of savory tones than fruity intensity . Very good.