2014 Benton Lane Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
When California natives Steve and Carol Girard sold their successful winery estate in Oakville (now Rudd), they began a world-wide search for a new site to indulge their love affair for the one grape they couldn’t successfully make in the Napa Valley, Pinot Noir. After a thorough, painstaking analysis of several viable locations, including Tasmania, they found the perfect situation in the coastal hills of the Willamette Valley of Oregon, near the small town of Monroe. The specific site, known as Sunnymount Ranch, addressed their long list of requirements: minerally volcanic soil, sloping hillside exposures, a temperate micro-climate and protection from the region’s severe winter storms. Naming their new venture, Benton-Lane, after the two counties that abut the property, they began planting in 1988 and produced their first wine in 1992.
Today, Benton-Lane Winery is planted to 142 acres, primarily Pinot Noir but also some Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. Their approach with Pinot Noir has always been to showcase the round, plush, mouth-filling side of the grape variety so both their sustainable farming practices and winemaking regimens are designed to accomplish just that. Fermented in small, open-top fermenters and aged in French oak barrels for several months, the wine has a lot going on in both the bouquet and on the palate. With aromas of cedar and cassis and flavors of black cherry and dark plums, it displays the richness of a long growing season and the concentration of low yielding vines. It’s one of the most approachable Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted lately and one of the best values we have on the shelves right now. Benton-Lane Winery is all about innovation and at the same time, staying true to their passion for authentic Pinot Noir, made in an environmentally sensitive manner, in tune with their very special place in southern Willamette Valley. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.