TN: Benevolent Neglect Wines....(long/boring)

We tasted last night (8/2/21) some Benevolent Neglect Wines:

  1. BenevolentNeglect Vermentino WindmillVnyd/DunniganHills (12%; BNWines/SantaRosa 2020: Light yellow color; very pretty Verm/floral/fragrant/carnations quite aromatic slight chalky/mineral quite lovely nose; fairly tart fairly rich classic Verm/floral/carnations light chalky/perfumed talc flavor; very long rather tart fairly rich very strong floral/Verm/carnations bit perfumed talc/mineral rather saline/savory finish; quite a pretty Verm & not as rich/lush as most Calif Vermintinos; bright/sinewy/savory & more in a Ligurian style. $24.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect RibollaGialla BengierFamilyVnyd/NapaVlly (12.5%) 2018: Med.light yellow color; fairly fragrant RG/white pepper lightly floral/gardenias some appley/pear very slight phenolic/ViniMacerati/resiny w/ very little skin-contact character; rather tart/lean/austere fairly appley/floral/RG/white pepper flavor w/ very light VM character; very long strong floral/RG/carnations/appley slightly tannic/austere/acidic finish w/ very slight VM/resiny character; the next day, at a slightly warmer temperature, the VM/resiny/skin-contact character had come to the forefront but still in good balance w/ the RG fruit; a rather saline/savory quite good expression of skin-contact RG. $36.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Chard MasaOrganicEstate/CarmelVlly (12.5%) 2019: Med.light yellow color; fairly strong appley/melony/Chard/cold-climate bit chalky/flinty very slight pencilly/oak quite attractive fragrant nose; quite tart/tangy clean/brisk classic c-c Chard/appley/melony bit lean bit Chablis-style/flinty bit chalky slight pencilly/oak flavor; very long brisk/bright/Chard/melony/appley/pear bit flinty/Chablis-like austere bright finish; a quite appley/flinty style of Chard that reminds a lot of the Massican or Mathiasson Chards; rather taut/brisk/sinewy Chard but still plenty of flavor & not lean or eviscerated; quite a pretty Chard. $36.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect fiasco AlderSpringsVnyd/LunaticFringeBlock/MendoCnty (12.5%) 2019: Quite fizzy PetNat light yellow color; bit soda-poppy/7Up slight yeasty/herbal lightly floral nose w/ no obvious varietal character; quite fizzy/frizante/explodes in the mouth brisk/tart some appley/earthy/herbal bit soda poppy/bland flavor; med.short quite fizzy/frizzante slight appley/herbal/earthy almost bland flavor w/ not identifiable fruit or varietal character; the wine sorta explodes/faoms up when it hits the palate and carries away any fruit or flavor; it’s all about the fizzy foam. $32.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Counoise Rosato WindmillVnyd/DunniganHills (12.8%) 2020: Light red fairly dark for rose color; very fragrant perfumed strawberry/Counoise/alping strawberry bit earthy/dusty very fragrant nose; fairly tart bright/Counoise/strawberry slight earthy/dusty flavor w/ light bit rustic tannins; very long very floral/strawberries/Counoise light earthy/dusty lightly tart finish w/ light rough tannins; quite lovely perfumed/Counoise/strawberry aromatics more like a light red than a rose. $22.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Counoise Calif (12.2%) 2019: Med.light color only slightly darker than the rosato; much more earthy/dusty light strawberry/Counoise rather Languedoc-like/rustic nose; lightly tart rather earthy/dusty/rustic/Languedoc-like some strawberry/Counoise finish w/ light rough/coarse tannins; much like the Rosato but much more earthy/dusty & not the aromatics and a bit rustic/coarse in character; interesting aromatics but rather on the rustic/coarse side. $24.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Mourvedre ForeFamilyVnyds/LakeCnty (13.7%) 2018: Very dark color; strong earthy/dusty some Mourv/plummy/boysenberry light pencilly/oak bit coarse/loamy nose; soft bit fat rather earthy/dusty slight Mourv/plummy/boysenberry light pencilly/oak bit ContraCosta/loamy/mushroomy flavor w/ light rough tannins; very long fairly earhy/dusty/loamy/mushroomy some plummy/Mourv/boysenberry/blackberry finsh w/ light rough tannins; reminds a lot of ContraCoasty Mourv but more earthy/loamy in character; a rather earthy/rustic expression of Mourv. $45.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect EnzVnyd/LimeKilnVlly (14.5%) 2018: Fairly dark color; beautiful ripe/plummy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/very spicy quite dusty/OV bit pencilly/oak very perfumed lovely nose; lightly tart very spicy/blackberry/Zin/ripe/boysenberry/slight jammy rather dusty/OV/bit earthy light pencilly/oak very perfumed classic LimeKilnVlly Zin flavor w/ light dusty tannins; very long/lingering rather dusty/OV very strong ripe/jammy/blackberry/spicy/Zin/boysenberry light pencilly/oak lightly tart finish w/ light ripe tannins; a beautiful classic LimeKiln/SanBenitoCnty Zin the likes I’ve not seen since the late '70’s; a classic old-timey CienegaVlly Zin. $55.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Syrah LasMadresVnyd/Carneros/SonomaCnty (14.1%) 2018: Very dark color; intense blackberry/Syrah classic LasMadres/black olive tapenade much more fragrant Syrah some complex nose; bit soft very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah slight c-c/black pepper classic Carneros Syrah/black olive tapenade quite structured some complex flavor w/ some chewey tannins; very long/lingering blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah classic LasMadres/black olive tapenade structured light c-c/black pepper complex finish w/ medest tannins; more perfume & Syrah blackberry than the w-c version; a beautiful classic LasMadres Syrah that needs 3-6 yrs of age yet. $45.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Syrah WholeCluster LasMadresVnyd/Carneros (13.1%) 2018: Very dark color; very much LasMadres/black olive tapenade blackberry/blueberry/Syrah much more roasted/Rhonish less intense but more interesting/complex nose; bit tarter strong black olive tapenade/bit c-c/black pepper somewhat Rhonish/roasted/pungent strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some complex flavor w/ modest chewey tannins; much like the regular LasMadras but not as intense fruit & much more roasted/Rhonish character & somewhat harder/more structured; beautiful expression of LasMadres Syrah. $50.00

  1. BenevolentNeglect Syrah BerryBrookVnyd/FountaingroveDist/SonomaCnty (13.8%) 2017: Very dark color; very bright floral/blackberry/Syrah very spicy light smokey/oak lovely perfumed/aromatic nose; very strong very spicy/bright/floral/violets blackberry/Syrah/blueberry rather tart light smokey/oak some complex flavor w/ modest grippy tannins; very long/lingering fairly tart bright/floral/violets/Syrah/blackberry slight earthy light smokey/oak some complex finish w/ light grippy tannins; quite a pretty/bright/floral expression of Calif Syrah; reminds a bit of the Boheme Syrahs, some of Val d’Aosta Syrahs w/o the earthiness but the saame bright Alpine floral character. $55.00

A wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. BenevolentNeglect: This is a tiny operation over in SantaRosa run by winemakers Matt Nagy and Ben Brenner. I heard about them from someplace, took a look at their WebSite, saw they made a large range of interesting wines, and ordered 1.5 cs to try. From reading their WebSite, they describe their winemaking as “minimal intervention”. Though they don’t wear it on their sleeve, they would probably fit into the “natural” winemaking camp. Whether they have been discovered by AliceFiering and been vetted by SweetAlice as “natural” winemakers, I have no idea.

  1. Ribolla: It comes from the original GeorgeVare Ribolla planting just north of Napa town.
    This was a bit of a chameleon of a wine. I first tried it when it arrived about 2 weeks ago. It was distinctly light golden in color & strongly suggested a skin-contact white. The wine, in fact, did have 15 days of skin-contact. Though the RG varietal character was there, the ViniMacerati was also present but not dominant…in good balance w/ the RG fruit.
    This wine did not appear to be as dark in golden color. It had a high acidity, almost screechy/apple peel in character and displayed mostly the RG varietal character, albeit rather low-key/quiet. The VM character was barely evident & it was pretty austere on the palate.
    When tried the next day, at a warmer temperature; the VM character was much more evident and it seemed much more similar to the btl I’d had 2 weeks afore. Still good balance between the RG varietal character and the VM character.

  1. PetNat: This style of wine seems to be growing in popularity. I am generally not a fan of these wines. It’s all about the foam & the fizz and not much else. But, then, I’m not a big fan of sparkling wines/Champagne, either.
    The next day, at a much warmer temperature and when most of the CO2 had dissipated, it was a much more interesting near-still wine w/ a rather earthy/rustic/Southern Italy white wine character.
    Not sure what varieties are in the Lunatic Fringe but StewBewley has a bunch of weird mostly Italian varieties planted so no telling what’s in it. But it seems to be a waste to make a PetNat from really interesting grapes that could, potentially, make a very interesting white wine.

  1. So my intention of putting together this tasting was to get a feeling for the BN wines. They draw from a number of pretty high-end vnyds and they all delivered on the quality those vnyds can produce. I was particularly impressed by the three Syrahs. I know that LasMadres Syrahs can make great wines, but I’d never had a Syrah from the FountainGrove Dist before. It was right up there w/ the LasMadres.
    I was also impressed by the Enz Zin as well. I need to try it w/ a Bedrock version. It reminded me a lot of the Zins I had in the late '70’s, sorta old-timey, from LimeKilnVnyds and the EnzVnyds versions, back when Almaden/CharlesLeFranc were in their hey-day in that area.
    Over the last few yrs, as more & more “natural” wines appear on the marketplace, I’ve become a bit skittish of any unknown “natural” wine. Some of them can be absolutely dreadful. That’s one thing they very much impressed me of these BN wines. They were absolutely clean & well-made and showed absolutely no signs of any “natty” character.
    But a word of warning, because Ben & Matt are careful about shipping their wines, during the Summer, they insist on shipping overnight so they don’t get any damage during transit. This, of course, costs an arm & a leg. I believe that during the colder shipping season, they don’t insist on overnight shipping, which the cost is much more reasonable.
    Anyhoo…Benevolent Neglect are wines worth checking out.

Tom, I’ll bet you read about Benevolent Neglect on Grape-Nutz! neener
I wrote up a few notes when I tasted their wines at the Garagiste Wine Festival Northern Exposure event in both 2019 and 2020.

April 2019:
Ben Brenner and Matt Nagy of Benevolent Neglect started their label in 2013, and they source fruit from Monterey to Mendocino to the Sierra Foothills. The winery name points to the minimal intervention winemaking that they practice. Ben poured five wines at the event and I enjoyed all of them. The rose and the reds – all from Rhône varieties – were nice (the earthy and spicy 2017 Fore Family Vineyard Mourvèdre in particular deserves a mention), but it was the two whites that really grabbed my attention. The 2017 Nelson Family Vineyard Riesling, from a site in the Ukiah area, was fresh and floral, with stone fruit and petrol notes, medium-light body, and just off-dry to balance its bright acidity. The 2017 Bengier Vineyard Ribolla Gialla, sourced from Napa Valley, spent five days fermenting on the skins beneath a submerged cap. This showed characteristic skin-fermented phenolic aromas along with pear, spice, and a touch of earthy funk, leading to a chalky texture and finish – very distinctive. I’d heard about Benevolent Neglect but this was my first time tasting the wines, and they’re worth checking out.

February 2020:
Ben Brenner and Matt Nagy of Benevolent Neglect started their label in 2013, and they source fruit from Monterey to Mendocino to the Sierra Foothills. The winery name points to the minimal intervention winemaking that they practice. I tasted four Benevolent Neglect wines at their table, and two stood out to me. The 2018 Chardonnay, with fruit sourced from the Petaluma Gap region, did not go through malolactic fermentation – this had citrus and green apple aromas along with earth and herb notes, and a clean, bright finish. Even better was the 2018 Alder Springs Vineyard Counoise, from far northern Mendocino County, with floral red fruits on the nose plus a savory herbal element, and a lively texture and finish.

Yup, Ken… that’s probably where I first heard of them.

I’ve only tasted Matt’s Las Madres Syrahs at the annual winemaker luncheon but they’ve always wowed me. He’s always the one pushing the envelope on picking brix, maceration, whole cluster, block blends etc…

Thanks for the notes on the other wines.

Love these wines. The Whole Cluster Syrah was the first I tasted and is still their standout wine for me, but the Fountaingrove District Syrah really is growing on me, and I think their Zin is outstanding as well.

You should try a bottle of their new Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s well-made and balanced in my opinion, and the ~13.5% ABV is nice too.

Carneros for the win [thumbs-up.gif]

1 Like

We stopped into their Napa tasting room yesterday based on a friend’s recommendation, and had a blast. Ben and Matt were both there and were awesome hosts. We tasted 8-9 different wines and ended up picking up some
merlot, whole-cluster Syrah (2015 magnum), ‘21 GSM, and ‘22 Counoise sparkling wine called Fiasco. I had never had counoise before.
Definitely a fun way to spend the afternoon

1 Like