The 2014 growing season started out with an early spring and quickly developed into the warmest growing season on record. Although most growers in Oregon thin their crop as a way of insuring ripeness, many abandoned this practice as they felt it was unnecessary and frankly they welcomed a large crop. At Benton-Lane we used crop thinning to increase quality by dropping the less perfect, less ripe clusters and keeping the best. The long growing season ensured full flavored grapes with an emphasis on riper flavors. For the red wines this meant wines favoring the dark fruits (blackberry, black cherry, cassis). A warmer summer also produced more grape sugars which in dry wines means more alcohol although we are easily able to adjust this to bring the wines into perfect balance.
The must underwent a pre-fermentation “cold soak” to increase extraction of color and flavor. Fermentation took place in small 1.25 ton fermenters with the cap being punched down by hand. The individual lots were fermented with specially chosen yeast and after pressing, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation naturally in French oak
barrels, 65% of which were brand new. The barrels selected to be included in the Frist Class cuvee were pre-blended to ensure consistency and a proper “marriage” of flavors and then racked back into barrels to complete the aging process. 10 months in French oak barrels - 12 months bottle aging before release.
Before you taste this wine, check out the incredible color. It’s a beautiful dark ruby red with a slight hint of blue - It reminds me of the beautiful tail light lenses on 1940’s vintage cars. The aromas swirl around in the glass and blend together. The fruit notes are candied cranberry and cassis, then rich vanilla from the toasted white oak, and a rich earth or mushroom aroma. The wine is definitely full flavored, but without imposing tannins. The predominant flavors are cranberry and fig fruit notes on a mocha framework. The rose petal notes, sweet rich earth and fresh cracked pepper flavors seem to get along beautifully. Note the flash of tangerine in the finish. This is a youngster of a wine that will keep on showing us new stuff for a long, long time.
Finished TA: 5.9 g/L
Finished pH: 3.67
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume