2007 Black Glass Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Estate Black Glass Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine is one of our favorite single vineyard Zins in recent memory – so we are making some noise and issuing this special alert.
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Mission Codename: Si, Georgio!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Benessere Vineyards and secure their single vineyard Zinfandel for our Operatives around the world
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Benessere Vineyarrds
Wine Subject: 2007 Benessere Black Glass Vineyard Zinfandel
Winemaker: Jack Stuart
Backgrounder: Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Alexander Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their big, extracted flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest purple, with deep color concentration right out to the lighter purple edging. This wine shows a springy surface that settles very quickly when swirled, leaving behind several rounds of skinny, tight-spaced legs that emerge slowly and then move quickly down the glass.
Smell – Aromas of darkest blackberry, dark blueberry, briar patch and black cherry initially dominate the nose. After a rush of these lovely aromas, follow-on fragrances of nettle, black pepper and soft cinnamon linger.
Feel – Medium to full-bodied right out of the glass. Then, plush tannins reveal a soft dryness that spreads around the palate.
Taste – Very flavorful and really delicious, this wine presents a balance between sweetly jammy and more bold and spicy. Leading with blackberry and black cherry, this wine almost immediately reveals follow-on flavors of strawberry, blueberry, cedar and soft brown spice. At the end, a distinct black pepper note makes the mouth water.
Finish – Bold and juicy flavors tail off slowly, to be replaced with soft brown spice and a mineral-driven black pepper reminder.
Conclusion – This wine is a great find, and I am very pleased to be able to share it with you today! A classic California Zinfandel, without being brash or overpowering, this wine is big – but also elegant. Enjoy it along with your favorite BBQ, or on its own as a serious solo-sipper. Long on aromatics and bold flavors, you’ll find layer upon layer of delicious character in this balanced beauty. We enjoyed ours with grilled New York steaks, mashed potatoes and a fresh herb garden salad with tomatoes and avocado. The wine was divine. Don’t miss out on this one, dear Operative!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Jack Stuart
WINE EDUCATION: At my mother’s knee (age 4, in an Italian restaurant); my father’s first interest in Cabernets (when they were $3 a bottle); early underage experience in San Francisco bistros (back when you could get served); extensive travel in France and Italy; Robert Finnegan’s Private Guide to Wine (he was the Parker of the 1970s and an early booster of Domaine Dujac); Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine; an assorted case of European wines given to my wife and me as a wedding present by the father of a college friend; and two years of graduate school in the Master’s program at UC Davis.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: First commercial winemaking position: Durney Vineyards, Carmel Valley, 1978 and 1979; my first Cabernet won a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair. Longest-held position: Winemaker & General Manager of Silverado Vineyards, Stags Leap District, 1980 to 2004; in 1987 I was the first American to receive the Robert Mondavi Trophy for Winemaker of the Year award from the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London. Most closely held position: Winemaker & Partner of Trivium Wine, a local partnership making 400 cases of St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon. Most recent position: WM & GM, Benessere Vineyards, since January.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Let the variety and the place speak (or sing!) in the wine. Not overripe, not over-alcoholic, graceful, flavorful and balanced.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “If two glasses of that wine will land you in the pokey or in the ditch, then it’s too damn alcoholic.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1978 Durney Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, released 1981. Recently opened a bottle of this wine to celebrate my son-in-law’s birthday (he was born that year), and it was amazing: still purple red, primary fruit aromas, lovely flavors and balance!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jack. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JACK: Thank, Red. Great to be with you, today!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JACK: Martin Ray Saratoga Cabernet Sauvignon, 1960-something, tasted in the late sixties or early seventies; my first experience with new French oak in a California wine. Two wines from 1970: Ch. Mouton, bought for $20, and BV Private Reserve, bought for $8.33; both rich, elegant, pure expression of Cabernet Sauvignon.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JACK: Myself, and consumers who appreciate what I’m trying to do. Chasing reviews destroys the soul.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
JACK: Benessere Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel Black Glass Vineyard: We call our vineyard “Black Glass” for the obsidian arrowheads and spearpoints left by Wappo people who hunted and lived on the land for millenia. Picking through the end of October allowed for full flavor development. Hand-harvested fruit was gently destemmed it into small, open-topped tanks for cold-soaking and fermentation. Total maceration time was 31 days. Aged in new American oak and once-used French oak barrels for 15 months, racked twice, bottled without fining or filtration to retain the maximum flavor and complexity. Brilliant medium red, with distinctive terroir and velvety texture. Spicy cherry and bright blackberry aromas that are complemented by clove and allspice tones that carry through to the palate. The well-structured 2007 vintage will age well for the next six to ten years.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JACK: On a summer day like today (95˚) serve it at cellar temperature (58˚) with barbecued salmon or savory duckburgers done on the grill. You might have to do an attitude adjustment first with a cold Stella.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Vallley so special?
JACK: Napa Valley is the top red-wine producing region in the country, and one of just a handful in the world. The northwestern part of the St. Helena AVA, surrounded by mountains, with gravelly, cobbly, clay-loam soils laid down on old river terraces, is ideal for both Zinfandel and Sangiovese.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JACK: Just finished blending and bottling the 2008 Black Glass Zin, so stay tuned! Today I’m working on the 2008 Sangiovese blend, barrel by barrel.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
JACK: Come visit our tasting room at 1010 Big Tree Road in St. Helena, and you can try them. Expect wines that don’t taste like what you had last night. In a world of Cabernet, we’re doing something different. There is nearly infinite variety in the world of wine, which is what makes it more interesting than vodka, so keep trying new wines from people and places you’ve never heard of.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
JACK: Yes. The two most important things you need to know about wine is (1) what you like and (2) where to find it. Don’t be buffaloed by critics or intimidated by waiters—drink what YOU think is good. Red wine with fish is okay. The only rule is: Don’t drink and drive.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Benessere Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
We call our vineyard “Black Glass” for the obsidian arrowheads, spearheads and chippings left by the Native American-Wappo Indian Tribe who hunted and lived on the land from BC to the 1800’s.
We rush to take the hand-harvested fruit directly from the vineyard and gently destem it into small, open topped tanks for coldsoaking and fermentation. The total maceration time for our BG Zin in 2007 was 31 days. The new wine was drained and the skins were gently pressed, and then the wine was placed into a combination of new 60% American oak and 40% once-used French oak barrels for aging. The wine was racked off the sediment twice during the 15 months in barrel and bottled without fining or filtration to retain the maximum in flavor and complexity.
“Black Glass” is our well respected Zinfandel from the Benessere Estate Vineyard. It is known for its distinctive fruit and velvety textural characteristics. There are spicy cherry and bright blackberry jam aromas that are complemented by clove and allspice that carry through to the palate. We suggest pairing this complete wine with partners such as rib-eye steaks, lamb shank, cabot blue cheese, and Belgian chocolates. The 2007 vintage will age well for the next six to ten years.
Benessere Black Glass Zinfandel is a most versatile wine with pairing partners such as Rib Eye steak, lamb shank, Cabot Bleu Cheese and Belgian chocolates. The 2007 vintage will age well for the next seven to ten years.
This limited bottling of 307 cases represents the finest Estate Zinfandel produced by Benessere.
About The Winery:
“Benessere” is the Italian word for well being and prosperity. This is the feeling we try to embody at Benessere Winery. We are a small family owned, high end producer of Italian varietals, located in the north end of Napa Valley on the valley floor where the soil is well suited for growing excellent wine.
The property was purchased in 1994 by John Benish. At that time it had been abandoned for some years. It has now been restored and everyone who visits comments on our beautiful setting. The buildings are sunny yellow, the flowers are breathtaking and visitors like to linger to enjoy the ambiance while sipping our exquisite wine. Because we are small, we pride ourselves on individual attention to all our visitors. Everyone who comes is treated as company and we hope you will feel this when you visit us.
In 1998 we harvested our first crop. Sangiovese is our signature wine. This beautiful deep-ruby colored, aromatic wine pairs well with all foods. We are continuing in our quest to produce the finest Sangiovese possible through gentle handling of the fruit and of the resulting wine. The Black Glass Zinfandel is exceptional and can be drunk for special occasions or for every day. You will enjoy it immensely. We make a Pinot Grigio, loved for its clean crisp taste, with fruit that has been purchased in Carneros. Every year we sell out of this very quickly.
We have expanded our selection of varietals to include Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Muscat di Canelli. We also produce an outstanding blend called Phenomenon.
The wine club is open to new members. Some of our wine can be bought only through the wine club. Although we have a large group we give them all individual attention, and even have several parties a year open only to our members. They are very festive affairs and our members always enjoy these events.
In addition to our beautiful property and beautiful wine, we also have the distinctive possibility of being the only place where the late Luciano Pavarotti, the world famous tenor, made his only movie, “Yes, Giorgio”. The movie company installed a tennis court especially so Luciano could play tennis in that movie.
We would be honored to have you visit our winery.
Production: 287 cases
Acid: 0.60 g/100 ml