Mike Benziger, founder and Biodyamic winemaker at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California, answers five questions about his 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County.
1. How does this wine capture the sights, sounds and tastes of the Sonoma County?
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Sonoma County program are grown in vineyards perfect for the varietal. The vineyards allow for a cool and even ripening process and have rich soils. The vines are able to support canopies that give the grapes shade so that we can emphasize the more beautiful fruit and preserve the fresh acidity that is associated with the grape. We farm our sauvignon blanc in a way that protects freshness and aromatics. Our vineyards are located in the Russian River Valley, in Alexander Valley and in Sonoma Valley, all vineyards that are able to produce grassy citrusy flavors with balanced, clean acidity. The whole purpose of our sauvignon blanc is to wake up your senses and to stimulate your appetite so that you want to enjoy good food and enjoy another glass of Benziger.
2. Describe the 2010 harvest. How does it compare to other years? What are the differences and similarities in the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blancs from year to year?
The 2010 harvest had its challenges. We had variable weather, cold and warm, but the location of the vineyard so close to the ocean moderated and stabilized a lot of the variability. For us, it was basically a cooler vintage, and you can see how that reflected beautifully in the flavor and the aromas of the wine. With the cooler vintage, the wine has a beautiful varietal character with beautiful grassy, citrus blossom and dried herbs aromas. 2010 has slightly more grassy, cut hay and alfalfa aromas, which are true to varietal flavors. The 2010 also has a beautiful textural quality, a creaminess that other vintages don’t have. The grassy alfalfa and the creaminess make 2010 outstanding. In warmer years the sauvignon blancs tend to be more fruit-driven, with an emphasis on apple and pear flavors with a little bit richer body and more subdued acidities. In cooler years, aromatics are grassy and hay-like with beautiful fresh acidity.
3. How does sustainable agriculture influence the harvest from year to year? Can you describe the rituals and any attachments to the land as you go through the cycle year after year?
Our Sauvignon Blanc is sustainably farmed, and this technique allows us to taste what is unique and different about each location where the grapes are grown. We farm it in a way that enhances that difference while increasing the health of the environment.
4. What food would you pair this Sauvignon Blanc with for lunch or dinner?
For lunch, this sauvignon blanc could be paired with fish tacos or a fresh summer salad. For dinner, this wine is the perfect pair for shrimp kebobs or a light white fish.
5. Describe the type of person who would enjoy this Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine is for anybody who wants a wake-up call for his or her palate. It’s just like drinking out of a glacier stream or breathing in beautiful mountain air. It’s refreshing. Even people who don’t drink wine could appreciate this wine.