WBW 65 (no I can’t count) – Let it snow let it snow let it snow!

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Thunder and lightening and rain oh my!  What is it about winter weather that makes me want huge red wine.  Maybe it’s the way it warms me up, maybe it’s the romantic notion of red wine in front of the fireplace.  Whatever the reason, Michelle Lentz over at Wine-Girl has asked us to cozy up with a glass for Wine Blogging Wednesday. As you may remember, Wine Blogging Wednesday is the brainchild of Lenn Thompson, whereby bloggers and wineaux around the world, blog on a particular theme once a month.  So this month, it’s all about what you drink when you’re tucked up inside while the weather outside is frightful. So, while I have been known to tipple the Scotch and swig the Irish, wine is my passion – so off to the cellar i went.  A syrah popped out at me, in this case a 2005 Petroni Syrah that was a gift from my friends Chuck & Paige  WOW!  When I first poured this wine i could tell it was a bruiser, which is just what i would want on a day like today when we have had thunder, lightening, flash floods and sunshine.  Oh and howling wind.  No, I don’t like in Iowa, I live in San Francisco!  Anyway, back to the wine. When i poured the first glass, I could see this would be a big daddy.  It was almost black in the glass, and the aroma is of blackberry jam on the stove, followed by stewed plums and cherry brandy.  The first sip makes me smile, because I taste coffee and bacon fat, while i chew on the big blue fruit.  The finish has a touch of black pepper, which adds an interesting finish to the wine. The 2005 syrah is a blend of two blocks, both located on their estate in Sonoma Valley.  Both of these blocks are hillside plantings, which Petroni feels makes for phenomenal syrah growing.  The first block is the Hooker’s Creek  is on the lower, gentler South East facing slope on the eastern edge of our property.  This is the main source for the syrah, and the remainder is from the Diablo block which is located on a steep south facing slope in volcanic soil.  this is where the bruiser quality comes from. Each block lot was fermented separately, which gives the winemaker more control over the finished product.  After the fermentation, the lots were blended and aged in 35% new French oak for 16 months, which gives a touch of spice and sweet toastiness without overpowering the wine.  Only 150 cases were produced of this big bold racy wine were made, so at $48 it really is a STRONG BUY if you are a syrah fan like me.  It’s not overpowered by fruit, and there is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the layers beyond the first sip. The only thing I’m missing on my snow day here in the rain in a fire in the fireplace, but […]

The Benziger Blogger Follies!

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Benziger Family Vineyards sits inside an eruption cauldron, part of Sonoma Mountain, in Glen Ellen.  One beautiful early fall day, they took on a group of bloggers and showed us the VIP treatment and gave us a nice education and tasting lesson behind the scenes. Here at Benziger, the practice of biodynamics builds up the biological capital every year.  Building a closed ecosystem, the winery has created its own terroir through the careful management of the land, and the balance of nature and farming.  Eliminating the use of synthetic chemicals and starting more natural methods like crop rotation, composting, and natural insect and pest control changed the ecosystem. We started our day taking a tram tour around the property, where we had several stops where Mike Benziger, Kathy Benziger, and Next, we wandered down to the insectary, where Colby explained how the introduction of beneficial insects helps keep the farm in balance.  While in the insectary, we sipped on some 2008 Estate Sauvignon Blanc Paradiso de Maria, Sonoma Mountain while a Praying Mantis came to sit atop our bottle.  I tasted lemons, cream, grapefruit, with a whiff of petrol on the nose, as well as chalk and hay.  It had a great acidify and was lively with granny smith apple flavors.  500 cases of this wine were produces from a one acre block that was dry farmed with minimal intervention.  The wine was fermented on native yeast, which I always enjoy because I think it provides such a unique factor to every barrel.  It was fermented in 100% stainless steel barrels sur lie and was delicious! After the gardens, we moved on to the compost pile.  Yes, the compost pile.  Unfortunately, i didnt’ have any wine with me at the time, but luckily enough, it did NOT smell like my kitchen bucket.  Mike Benziger explained to us that there are no magic tricks when making great wine.  Benziger vines havfe very deep root growth on the property, which in part is caused by a change in the irrigation strategy.  Deep roots allow for more stability int he vines.  According to Mike, biodynamics is the best fine tuning system for nature, to make the best wine.  The compost piles are actually kept separate for each block, and they are put back on the land where they came from.  This adds to the closed ecosystem and prevents any cross contamination from occurring. Our next stop was the water treatment facility, which is a series of ponds that are aerated at the back of the property.  This is a man made wetland, which acts as a natural filter and helps to recycles and resue 2-4 million gallons (yes kids that’s a LOT of water!) annually. Before we moved in to the cave to taste smoe with, we stopped by the crushpad to see their new sorting table. As it was in the middle of crush, we saw the line in action.  this new vibrating sorting table allows the workers to sort out the duds, so they are […]