2013 Benzinger de Coelo Vineyard Arbor Sacra Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The color is quite light red with a touch of garnet, and I noted to my host who opened the bottle that it reminded me more of an Anderson Valley coloration. Upon reflection, blinded on this wine there’s a very good chance I would have guessed spatburgunder. On the nose some lifted aromatics and light red fruit. On the palate again I find some indications of bright red fruit but it takes some time for any Sonoma Coast character to shine through and even then faintly. The quantity of fruit and material seems a tad lacking when considered in light of the oak treatment and alcohol level; I think neutral oak might have served this wine much better. The new oak juts out somewhat on the palate and adds some spice and bite, but I do think it will integrate over time. The tannins are smooth and fine-grained, and the 14.5% listed alcohol threatens to show some heat on the finish but fortunately doesn’t quite land the punch.

It’s not a bad drink now but I was definitely hoping for more substance. The new oak and alcohol don’t quite mesh with the delicate structure of the wine. Lest anyone think I can’t appreciate delicacy and that I’m looking for monster Cali Pinot I had a wonderfully light-bodied and floral Hirsch Sonoma Coast at Christmas that was glorious.

In fairness there’s no question it’s very young and may be in a dumb phase. Best case, with some age this becomes a delicate flower with some high-toned fragrance and delicate flavors. Worst case, the oak never integrates, the fruit goes away and alcohol comes to the fore.

A friend of the family was very kind to open this up for me at a party, given that a check on the website reveals a $75 tariff. Unfortunately I can’t say that it’s worth it, or even half that price. There’s just not enough going on and sadly I think I have enjoyed the regular Benzinger bottlings more.

In honor of Tom Hill, a wee bloody pulpit: This wine is apparently a very small production bottling from a single block of the de Coelo vineyard and is also a single-clone bottling, consisting entirely of Calera clone fruit. Notes also show the wine as being certified Demeter Biodynamic. Indigenous yeast, new tight grain French oak.

Benziger is definitely strong at cabernet sauvignon and merlot, for most modest tariffs.