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I have a growing love affair, or obsession of sorts, with Pinot Noir.  When considering my wine of choice on any given night I naturally gravitate to Pinot.  Given the price point of Pinots today, I tend to opt for other varietals during the week, but my ‘wine brain’ craves Pinot no matter what I’m drinking.  More than a passing taste, or seasonal craving, my wine purchases the last few months have consisted primarily of Pinot.  I feel one step below Miles, the Sideways protagonist.

This year, I have been on a personal wine mission to expand my tasting horizons by experiencing Pinots from the ‘other’ regions.  As a recent trip to Australia opened my mind to Australian Pinot (here, here, and here), so too did a visit to California introduce me to the Pinot’s of Anderson Valley.  Yes, Pinots have been produced in that area for a while, but I’m slow so they’re new to me.

During the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa in July, I had the chance to taste some damn tasting Pinot’s from a handful of top-quality producers in and around the Anderson Valley.  One such producer was Benovia Winery.

Benovia Cork

I first tasted the Benovia 2007 Savoy Vineyards Pinot Noir during the live tasting event at WBC, and was amazed at the purity of fruit this wine exhibited in just one small taste.  The WBC live tasting was a fast moving event, so I wasn’t able to spend much time with the wine, but made a note to revisit and learn more about the Benovia wines – in particular this Anderson Valley beauty.

My notes from original tasting… Benovia 2007 Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyards.  $58/bottle.  Although Benovia is located in the Russian River Valley, this Pinot was made with fruit from the organically farmed Savoy vineyard located in Mendocino County in the Anderson Valley.  I believe we were told that the Savoy vineyard is farmed organically.  My first tasting note on this one, “big cherry cola.”  The cherry cola aromas jumped out of the glass, followed by notes of red berries and earth.  I liked the structure of this wine, and feel it will be even better in a couple of years.  Just 370 cases produced.  Unfined, unfiltered.  Native yeasts for fermentation.  As an adjunct to my initial notes, the bottle we had tonight was excellent – pure raspberry, strawberry, and spices.  Damn tasty.

My wife and I recently opened another one of Benovia’s Pinots – the Benovia 2007 Bella Una Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  $58/bottle.   Just 195 cases produced.  Overall, this wine was bigger than the Savoy – concentrated dark fruit and firmer tannins.  Nose of dark cherry, blackberries, baking spice and a slight earthy component.  In the mouth, concentrated flavors of more dark berries and cellar dust.  I feel this wine will show exceptionally well in a few more years.  We paired this one with grilled salmon, but I feel it would have been better matched with mushroom pizza!  (I looked on the Benovia site and was unable to determine if there was a little other varietal blended in with this one, so I’m assuming this is 100% Pinot.)

Benovia Bella Una

Of the two Benovia Pinots, I personally prefer the Savoy Vineyards Pinot better of the two.

Disclaimer:  I received both of these wines as samples.

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