Sunday, July 23, 2006

Benziger Family Winery

After our first tasting at Gundlach Bundschu, we moved on to the Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma. Aside from the wine, this winery is worth visiting for three reasons: 1) they have a beautiful picnic area, 2) for $10 you can take a guided tram tour that drives you through the vineyards, and 3) they have a self guided tour (sort of a Vine Museum if you will) which explains the various stages of growth and everything else you could ever want to know about growing grapes.

Benziger is a biodynamic winery... which the guide tried to tell me meant even more organic than "organic." They use insects to control the... insects, and they avoid pesticides and other chemicals which would harm the earth and the environment.

For our tasting, we opted to skip the "regular" wines (those available in stores), and opted instead to pay a little extra to try the reserve wines. Often, this is a good tactic. For a small fee, a reserve tasting allows you to try wines that you'd never be able to afford to buy, or that are only available in limited quantities at the winery. In this particular case however, we didn't find the reserve wines any more impressive than the regular Gun Bun wines from the previous winery. Out of the 6-8 we tried, there were 3 that were worth mentioning:
  • 2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) - this wine was rich, complex and smooth, with soft tannins.
  • 2003 Tribute ($75) - other vintages of this big red wine have won accolades from Robert Parker. This was a soft, smooth wine with a great depth of flavors including berries, coffee and fruit.
  • 2004 Port, Sonoma Mountain ($35) - I believe I was the only one in my group to try the Port. The idea of Port seems to scare some people. I found it to be delicious, fruity and rich, and I scribbled on my tasting sheet "a distant cousin to Manishewitz."

However, for the most part, we were a bit disappointed with the reserve wines and in hindsight, we feel that we should have tried the other wines first. That night, we drank a $15 bottle of Benziger Family California Syrah that we picked up in the grocery. It was at least as good as any of the reserve wines we tried... possibly better. Price isn't everything.

To read a review of a Benziger Family wine that I tried in June 06, click here.


Blogger knowlengr said...

Here's a link to wikipedia's entry on biodynamic agriculture:

9:26 PM  

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