Visited this winery more than 10 years ago and memories of that tour still zig-zag vividly in my mind. Rows upon beautiful rows of grapes drinking in the cool night winds and warm Sonoma sun, a hillside full of goodness just waiting to happen.* It was touring this vineyard on a tractor-pulled wagon, with informative stops along each phase of the winemaking process, that probably first planted the seeds for Notes deep inside my tiny misguided brain. In fact, in the wine rack downstairs there is still an ’04 dessert wine from Benzinger, purchased on said tour, awaiting the right occasion.
And so here we are in the present–any doubt why this bottle jumped out at me when I saw it in my humble neighborhood supermarket? I was searching for a white to go along with a fish dinner that I was spoiling to make, and the 2013 Chardonnay was a no-brainer. It’s nice and clean; this Sonoma white is not overly buttery and carries notes of lemon with it–a nice match for the food planned this evening. When you swirl it about in your glass, you get a whiff that can only be described as “crisp” and with more of a fruit than a flower smell. Like a soft apple peel or lemon zest? (Note: I follow another wine blogger and, while he’s quite prolific and tastes a lot of wines, his descriptions of each is like a shotgun approach–he fires off about 15 or 20 descriptions for each wine, and it makes me doubt what he can actually detect…I am definitely NOT that guy as a writer of winetastings…so the above is as best I can share with you.)
The 2013 Benziger accompanied a crispy catfish dish, and the whole thing turned out better than I had expected. Continuing the vineyard theme, this dish used Thomcord grapes and chopped almonds as a relish for the catfish. Also depicted in this image is a kale-farro salad bearing garlic and fried rosemary, which made for a delicious mixture of textures and tastes. I think this might be my first catfish experience and, though I thought it tasted like almost any whitefish I’ve ever had, I can vouch for the final result.
The meal was easy to prepare, and the wine was a great complement to the crunches of the entrée and the sautéed fish. Since the 2013 Chardonnay from Benzinger was available in my local grocery, it doesn’t seem like you have to go all the way to Sonoma to get your own–but you should (wink)! Tell ’em we sent you and enjoy the journey…and be sure to take the vineyard tour if they still give it!
*At some point the future, this post may be updated with a visual of Benziger if I can go back into an older hard drive(s) and call up one of the photos from the tour. Be sure to revisit!