"Extreme" would be a good description of the 2008 vintage. The elements played a huge roll in our vineyard management – from frost, to drought, to high winds, to heat waves and eventually smoke from fires hundreds of miles away, we were hard at work from start to finish. Initially, harvest began early in August, but cooler temperatures slowed things down a bit and the rest of the harvest was evenly paced and lasted into October.
Our 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a layered wine with lush cherry, plum and sweet earth flavors. In the glass, herbaceous aromas introduce the wine. The appellations cool climate allowed us to craft a Pinot Noir balanced with both red fruit flavors and lean, elegant acidity. The mouthfeel is smooth with a medium to long finish.
Benziger Family Winery
The Benziger Family Winery was founded in 1980 on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain. Their Reserve wines showcase those rare lots discovered in the vineyard or developed in the cellar that receive the highest level of care and emerge as the best of the vintage. Benziger also produces Benziger Family wine and the limited production Vineyard Designate wines. At the core of Benziger Winery are eight, same generation family members committed to managing every aspect of grape growing and winemaking.
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The Russian River Valley is named as such due to its proximity to the Russian River, the river itself named for the Russian fur traders who came down from Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Russian River is agricultural land. While there is a focus on wine, beyond the vineyards are many small, family-owned farms cultivating everything from cattle to Christmas trees.
The proximity of this cool river and the rolling fogs from the Pacific Ocean make the area amenable to cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, the region is quite known for its full-bodied, yet elegant Pinot Noir, as well as their ripe, yet lean Chardonnays. Within Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. Chalk Hill is the warmer of the two and furthest from the ocean, while Green Valley is cooler and closer to the water.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
I can't believe this wine, it is so good. I have paid a lot more for Russian River Pinot's so I consider it a huge value at only $19.99. The great think about Pinot's is they pair with just about everything, we had it with our Turkey and it was awesome so I ordered more to have this Easter with our baked ham. Can't wait!
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.