In reviewing two bottles of Napa Valley wine, from the same winemaker but two different varietals, I expected to find no similarities. But, in looking over my tasting notes for today’s column, I found one: Both wines developed, ripened, blossomed and smoothed out after ten minutes in my glass. I found myself returning to my Eve Point Scale and upping each by 2-3 points. So, what does that tell us? Every wine has a story to tell, and it isn’t going to be found on the first page.
Before I began the first bottle I had opened a Merlot someone had given me as a gift. I won’t tell you the name of the winery, as the results were probably not their fault, but this 10 year-old bottle had undoubtedly been stored improperly, as it smelled bad the moment the foil was off just the top of the cork. I was betting that it was sitting in a nice window for 8 years. Please, store your wines in a cool place! And, buy your wines at a reputable wine shop that does the same!
Now, onto the Benessere:
Cab, Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah blend
Appearance: Clean cork, clear, garnet hue.
Aroma: Black pepper, spice, floral, some vegetation-bell pepper maybe.
Taste: Med-high tannins, which produced the expected mouth-watering effect, dry, black pepper, mature dark fruit, light viscosity.
With food: No change.
87 Eve points at first taste, 90 points after 30 minutes.
2006 marked the seventh release of our “Super-Napan” estate blend called Phenomenon. The blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah is an unusual creation, although these varietals often are the basis for the finest blended Super-Tuscan wines in Italy.
It possesses distinct aromas of black cherry, sweet oak and essences of black olive, leather and vanilla. On the palate, the flavors are pure, sweet and lingering. It is a most age-worthy wine and substantial enough to pair with most full flavored meats and sauces, for the elegant dinner or the outdoor patio, dining al fresco.
Vineyards – Benessere Estate, North St. Helena
Blend Composition – 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 2% Syrah
Finished pH – 3.60
Finished TA – 0.59 g/liter
Alcohol – 14.2% by volume
Production – 494 cases
Napa Valley Estate
Appearance: clean cork, clear, garnet color with honey-hued edges.
Aroma: Sweet earthiness, sweet oak, vegetal, ever-so-slight mint, white pepper, clove, faint orange.
Taste: Dry, medium tannins but a light body, black pepper, coffee grounds, mild welcome slight bitterness.
With food: Same.
Finish: Long and peppery.
85 Eve points, 87 after ten minutes in my glass becoming very smooth and highly drinkable.
Gentle treatment is paramount to the production of fine Sangiovese, and we spare no expense in the hand sorting, manual punch-downs of the cap during fermentation and gravity decanting during the life of this wine. Fining and filtration are unnecessary and leave more flavor and color in the wine.
Benessere continues to craft an elegant and beautiful wine with this extremely fickle and delicate varietal.
Vineyard – St. Helena Estate
Harvest Date – September 9 – October 3, 2007
Brix at Harvest – 24.6 – 26.4
Finished pH – 3.54
Finished TA – 0.63
Alcohol – 14.4% by volume
Production – 1236 cases