Bench Break Pinot Noir
2008 Bench Break Vineyard Pinot Noir
|Composition:||100% Pinot Noir|
|Clones:||2A, 23, 115, 667|
|Altitude range:||200’ to 800’|
|Harvesting:||100% hand picked|
|Fermentation:||Destemmed, 50% whole berry inclusion, seven day cold soak, open top fermentors|
|Oak treatment:||11 months aging in 100% French Vosges and Alliers oak (40% new)|
The Bench Break Pinot Noir is sourced from four of our Pinot Noir blocks to create a blend that’s representative of our estate’s most structured fruit expression—a more powerful counterpoint to the feminine qualities of the Julia’s bottling. Each year our winemaker chooses the blocks that will produce Bench Break based on the goal of creating this dynamo; typically, the blocks from the highest point on the estate provide a dark-fruited, lushly textured aspect to the blend while the old vines situated above the river offer spice and a mineral vein.
Aromas and flavors
Exotic wild cherry, fresh strawberries, sandalwood and earth commingled with cola and spice.
Palate texture and structure
At once opulent and firm: a dense palate texture combined with a lengthy, firmly laced finish.
The best glass for Pinot Noir has a large bowl with a narrowed aperture.
Think of Pinot Noir as a red wine masquerading as a white—there’s delicacy here! Serving temperature should be warmer than most whites and cooler than most reds: 60° F.
Food & Wine Pairing
We love Pinot Noir with…
From the garden:
Mushrooms and truffles, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, lentils, beets, winter greens, cherries, pomegranates, figs, persimmons, hazelnuts.
From the field:
Duck, roast chicken or quail, grilled pork loin, rack of lamb, filet mignon.
From the ocean:
Grilled salmon, seared ahi.
Cow’s milk cheeses such as Tomme de Savoie, Gruyere and Fontina d’Aosta; sheep’s milk cheeses such as Ossau-Iraty, Mahon, Garottxa, mixed milk cheeses such as La Tur or Rochetta.
A dry winter led into a cool Spring with bud break in late February. The summer was mild until a two-day heat spike in August accelerated the maturity of all the Pinot Noir and the Pinot Gris. Another couple of days of warm weather pushed a good portion of the Chardonnay to optimum maturity. A rain storm followed by unusual humidity during the second week of October became the deciding factor for picking the balance of the Chardonnay and the Syrah.
The catchword for the 2008 vintage is elegance; there’s an uncommon natural balance in the wines. The spring continued where 2007’s drought left off, with late season frosts and rain, but the weather stabilized and most vineyards saw a superb (albeit not large) fruit set. Once again, summer and fall was mild with few heat spikes, a situation that brought full ripeness and an overall finesse to the wines.
A near-perfect harvest by all accounts combined with low yields, which produced wines that have both power and superb natural balance. A cold winter delayed budbreak, and the absence of rain during the spring in turn resulted in very low yields. Mild weather continued through autumn with few significant heat spells, which provided for a long hang time and ideal physiological ripeness.
A warm winter and early budbreak was followed by spring rains, which slowed the initial progress and ensued in a short fruit set. A moderate summer punctuated by several heat spikes, opened to a dry, warm fall. Harvest was relatively late as winemaking waited for full maturity; the ensuing wines were high in acid with vivid fruit qualities.
2008 Benchbreak Pinot Noir
93 Points - (Best Buy)
"One of Year’s Best Pinot Noir’s - Denise Shurtleff blends this wine from estate blocks planted on shallow, shaley soil above the Santa Maria bench. The mix of clonal selections yields layers of meaty flavor, the tannin complex and dynamic, the ripe cherry fruit intermingling with the structure and lending transparency to the finish. There’s a gloss to the flavors, a graceful finesse that belies the wine’s power. The structure is substantial enough to match rognons de veau with mushrooms.” —Joshua Greene, Wine & Spirits, April 2011
2007 Benchbreak Pinot Noir
"Exceptional: supple, medium rich, full bodied, and long on the palate, with a persistent finish, tasting of plum, pomegranate, cedar, clove, vanilla, and cherry.” —Five Stars, Restaurant Wine, June 09 , Ronn Wiegand MW/MS
2006 Bench Break Pinot Noir
"Bring on the grilled salmon, ahi tuna, pork chops and smoked country ham. This gorgeous Pinot will let them shine in a supportive way, not overwhelm them. Dry, crisp and elegantly silky, it shows complex flavors of cherries, cola, rhubarb, licorice.” —Wine Enthusiast, 92 Points, February 09, Steve Heimoff
2005 Bench Break Pinot Noir
California Pinot 2005: Pick of the Crop " A stew of red fruits, a touch of oak and hint of cola. Gentle and round with a taste of wood and youthful astringency. Until 2011" —Decanter, April 08, Jordan Mackay
2004 Bench Break Pinot Noir
"A savory, earthbound style of pinot, this yields a range of flavors beyond its youthful oak. Spicy tones of roasted root vegetables and darker elements, like black mushroom, combine with edgy acidity, all needing several years to meld." —Wine & Spirits, April 06, Joshua Greene
Sustainable farming for the Bench Break Pinot Noir includes the following practices:
- Water: deficit and drip irrigation targets water delivery to vines; greywater systems in the winery promote water reuse throughout the estate;
- Plants: rotation of cover crops promotes biological activity and soil health.
- Critters: raptor and owl boxes naturally control the rodent environment and provide biodiversity to the ecosystem; predatory insects control undesirable insects and larvae.
Since 2009, all the grapes from our Estate Vineyard have been certified as sustainable under the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s Certified California Sustainable Winegrower (CCSW) program.
Our sustainability practices were verified by an external auditor based on CCSW’s 227 best practices criteria, 58 prerequisites and demonstrating continuous improvement. The third-party certification program was introduced in early 2010 and is built upon the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, a self-assessment system established in 2002, which engages thousands of vintners and growers representing more than 60% of the state’s wine production and acreage. Applicants need to demonstrate practices to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, reduce pesticide use, preserve wildlife habitat, protect air and water quality, recycle natural resources, enhance relations with employees and neighbors.