Benzinger Merlot Sonoma County 2008

benzinger The German writer Gotthold Lessing remarked that “For Me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity”. Indeed, clarity of form or vision, along with proportion, have always been one mark of the beautiful.

Clarity’s contribution to beauty immediately comes to mind when sipping Benzinger wines, especially the Merlot.  I don’t know if its the organic grapes , the folderol about biodynamic farming, or just the winemaker’s sharp palate but there is a unique transparency to their wines, each feature clearly delineated, nothing murky or ambiguous to mar the perception of distinct, rich flavors, and elegant texture.

Blackberry and chocolate leap from the glass with charred cedar and black olive accents. The fruit and oak-derived flavors are seamlessly integrated with neither achieving dominance, and remain so on the palate all the way through the medium length finish. Despite the dense, compact flavor, the wine feels light and fresh and gets a big mid-palate boost from ample acidity. The tannins are persistent but not excessively drying and have a fine-grained texture.

Svelte and classy but with pronounced flavor intensity, this wine is not big, powerful, or flashy—it’s just good.

Despite the perception of lightness, the flavors are rich and will overwhelm food that is too delicate. Pair with a burger, pizza with plenty of salami, or smoky barbecue (but skip the sweet sauce).

Good: Elegant texture and rich flavor

Bad: May be too polite for some palates

Distinctive: Clarity and integration

Price: A great value at about $16

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