2013 Benoni Pinot Noir Petits Grains Arroyo Grande Valley
 
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Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley An Exception to the Rule

Many of you have asked about the process by which WineAccess chooses its wines. In all but a handful of cases, our discoveries are made on the road, while tasting in cellars or walking hillside rows — jotting down notes in shorthand as winegrowers reflect on the drama of a growing season.

But, over the last couple of years, as word of the sheer magnitude of WineAccess daily sales has spread from Napa to the outer reaches of Central Otago, wineries began showering HQ with samples. Initially, we were flattered, and did as we're prone to do, tasting each sample before sending a bevy of courteous responses. In December 2013, we went through our "Sent" folder and counted 116 carefully worded rejection emails. Something had to change.

One of our New Year's resolutions was to bring order to what had become an increasingly chaotic sampling process. Before agreeing to sample new wines, we required winemakers to complete a form, providing us with details about the growing season, vineyard sources, and cellar protocol. Each time a form was returned with incomplete information, no sample request would be made.

Well, each time … except this time.

In the case of the 2013 Benoni Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley, almost every question was answered in elaborate detail. Date of flowering, veraison, and harvest. Size of crop. Soil composition and hillside exposure. The Pinot Noir had been treated to a long, cool vinification, pushing the envelope on extraction and aromatic intensity. The cooperage was 100% French, lightly toasted, and crafted by master coopers at Seguin Moreau and François Frères. The wine was estate-grown and estate-bottled, drawn from two of the most prized Pinot Noir vineyards on the coast.

But when it came to providing the name of the winery — or the name of those vineyards — on our form, those fields were left blank. Instead, there was a handwritten note at the bottom of the page that read: "If you're interested, give us a number and we'll give you a call."

Intrigued, we did just that.

The phone call that followed lasted the better part of two hours. We recognized the voice immediately. On the other end of the line was a winemaker celebrity, responsible for some of the most luscious wild-berry Pinot Noirs of the last 10 years, each drawn off manicured vineyards bearing names that — by agreement — have been left off the label and out of this story.

"2013 was a great vintage up and down the coast," we were told, "one of the best Pinot Noir vintages in the last 15 years. It was remarkable both qualitatively and quantitatively. Tremendous natural maturity, vivid acidity, despite copious yields. So much so that for the first time in a decade, we've decided to lighten up. We've never worked with WineAccess and thought we'd give it a try."

For the first time in months, a deal was cut on the spot — before we even tasted what may well be the most stunning American Pinot Noir bargain since the Crisis Years.

The 2013 Benoni Pinot Noir "Petits Grains" Arroyo Grande Valley was drawn from vineyards that have given birth to 24 (!) single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that have been rated 93-96 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

Brilliant, deep ruby to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of black raspberry, sweet cherry, and rose petals, at once piercing and beautifully delineated. Rich, sweet, and pure on the attack, featuring a lively mix of crushed-red-fruit preserves, sweet spice, and bitter cherry. The finish is textbook — firm, precise, and penetrating, framed by finely grained tannins. Drink now for its juicy, red-fruit hedonism or lay down for 6-9 years in a cool cellar.




Tasting Notes

2013 Benoni Pinot Noir Petits Grains Arroyo Grande Valley
"Brilliant, deep ruby to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of black raspberry, sweet cherry, and rose petals, at once piercing and beautifully delineated. Rich, sweet, and pure on the attack, featuring a lively mix of crushed-red-fruit preserves, sweet spice, and bitter cherry. The finish is textbook — firm, precise, and penetrating, framed by finely grained tannins. Drink now for its juicy, red-fruit hedonism or lay down for 6-9 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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