I met Chris Benziger a few weeks back and thought he was a fun interview. Chris is an extremely positive guy, very knowledgeable about his family’s vineyard, and excited about his wines. When he told me he had just lost his house in the California wildfires, and most of his neighborhood was gone, I was stunned. If that had happened to me, I’d be curled up somewhere still in shock, but Chris was on the road, as he usually is, telling the world about Benziger wines.
“Where are you staying, since you don’t have a house right now?”
“I’m staying at a guest house overlooking the vineyard. It’s gorgeous to wake up to every morning.”
See? A very positive guy.
If you missed my podcast with Chris, check it out here: Wine Stories, Episode 8
Benziger Family Winery is a certified sustainable operation. That’s a popular term these days, especially in California, but Benziger truly believes in biodynamics, to the point where goats roam the vineyard “tilling” the soil with their hooves, taking care of weeds, and even contributing a little fertilization of their own. I asked Chris what they do if an insect pest plagues the vines, since they don’t use pesticides. He told me they have entymologists in the family who know that insect’s natural predator, which would then be introduced into the vineyard. Presto! And without chemical interference or excessive fertilization, the roots of Benziger vines grow deeper into the soil, reflecting more of the natural character, or terroir, of Sonoma’s rich soil.
The other impressive thing about Benziger wines is the price! There are not many 90-point world-class Sonoma Cabernets available for under $40 these days, but you can find exactly that for $16.99, the price of their outstanding 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here is a rich, deep, and spicy wine screaming to be paired with a juicy steak. Pull the cork and take in blackberry, nutmeg, and coffee aromas. This is a full-bodied Cabernet whose flavors build subtly, they don’t hit you over the head with their intensity like many more expensive California wines. Ripe, round tannins and a long, slightly dusty finish really impress.
On my five-cork scale based on taste and value the Benziger 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon rates four corks. It’s a tremendous value for the price, and worth picking up a few bottles. You’ll enjoy it, and at the same time you’ll be helping a family devastated by fire get back on its feet.
If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party at Ferrari’s Little Italy! I host a wine dinner there every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!