Green concepts in red grapes
BY W. PETER HOYNE
Mike Benziger embodies the essence and soul of Benziger Winery in Sonoma, which has succeeded in placing an established, quality driven winery at the forefront of environmental farming. The term "going green" immediately captures the attention of most environmentally conscious consumers, while for Benziger it is a way of life and a reverence for restoring nature and sustaining the environment.
A neglected 85-acre parcel of land in Sonoma Mountain was discovered by Mike and Mary Benziger in 1980. It became Benziger Family Winery. The winery produces three classifications of wines. "Certified sustainable" wines are those in which most agricultural chemicals are avoided while still protecting the environment. "Certified organic" eliminates the use of all synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers while focusing on natural farming methods. "Biodynamic" is the highest level of farming with the ultimate expression of "terroir." It is a closed system where everything is recycled and the soil is regenerated.
1. 2007 Benziger Sauvignon Blanc | Lake County, California
This 100 precent Sauvignon Blanc is grown by sustainable farming methods. A pale yellow color opens to a wine that boasts of bright orchard citrus fruit and pink grapefruit overtones. The foggy maritime influence where these grapes are grown allows the wine to achieve a delicate minerality along with a balanced textural quality. | About: $12
2. 2006 Benziger Signaterra Pinot Noir | Bella Luna Vineyard, Russian River Valley
These grapes were sourced from a single vineyard near the Sonoma coast and are in transition to become certified organic. Three different cones of the Burgundy Dijon grapes were used for this bottling. The medium violet hue showcases a spice box of flavors with overtones of strawberry preserves, red geranium and herbs de Provenance. There are some hints of earth and white pepper in the background that make this hard to distinguish from a classic red from Burgundy. | About: $50
3. 2005 Benziger Reserve Red | Sonoma County, California
This is a meticulous blend of 55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 45 percent Merlot from reserve designated vineyard blocks. The grapes originate from the rocky Sunny Slope Vineyard which will be entering a Biodynamic status next year. Dark ruby/garnet with generous amounts of black cherry, red licorice and currants are nicely held together with glycerin and supple tannins. | About: $35
4. 2005 Tribute | Sonoma Mountain Estate
This Bordeaux blend of predominately Cabernet Sauvignon is the pinnacle of Biodynamic farming practices and the pride of Mike Benziger. Finely crafted with a concentrated personality of black raspberry, framboise and cocoa spice integrated into a velvety core. This wine is layered with opulent fruit that projects power, finesse and a lengthy finish. | About: $80