Stop With The "Burgundian-Style"

Medium Garnet, bricking hard.  A little alcohol in the nose, fighting with the spice and funk.  Has that toasted-almond sharp-sorta high astringent note of not-terribly-complicated Pinot Noir headed South, but with a little air doesn’t need to be tossed out quite yet.  Lovely funk, not earthen at all, stemmy and bright, ridden with lovely barnyard, rotting hay and poultry-farm.

This thing’s HOT though!  All that barnyard gets translated immediately onto the tongue on entry.  Everything is bright and sharp except the fruit.  Briar-riffic and spicy and HOT.  I’m really starting to wonder about the alcohol on this thing.  As most of you, I have had the misfortune of drinking many pinots in the past decade dangerously into the 15’s.  Hell, 14-something is the norm.  I’ve seen 16’s.  Based on color, complexity, the faded fruit and the heat, this thing has to be 15+.  But then, people see this and think perceived ABV is a straight curve–the more there is, the more it tastes like it and nothing could be further from the truth.  We’ve all had 13-8’s which tasted like Everclear and 15-2’s which were balanced and elegant.  So don’t get hung up on straight numbers.  I’m just saying:  this thing TASTES like a 15, but it could be just a shittily-made 13-0.  Besides, Pinot can really muss with you.  It’s not like Cab or SY where you can often cram your nose into it and go “14-6”.  High Alcohol is not an absolute evil to be avoided at all costs–despite what the IPOB crowd would like you to believe.  There’s also nothing wrong with de-stemming or buying a brick of Pasteur Red, or shaving or taking a shower, but that’s a whole ‘nother thread.  End of sermon.

Fruit really is quite gone on this one.  There’s a ton of really interesting–and lovely (in a VERY PINOT sense) things going on which can almost make you overlook the lack of fruit.  It’s not so much a lack of fruit, as it is a dark dark dark black cherry fruit dried up and oxidized and bit and nursing a sunburn.  Teensy bitter orange-peel finish underscored by a little more of that heat.  You’re not gonna like this wine.  I’ll just tell you now.  Not unless you really really like Pinot for all of its subtleties and offences.  I mean: you can go out and find it if you want–I’d highly recommend it–but you’re not going to like it.  Probably a half-dozen people I know are Burgundy-dork enough to find merit in this wine.  See, Burgundy-dork spends hours convincing himself all the nuances he’s picking up as the wine breathes are meritorious.  Cali-wonk sticks his nose in it for 5 seconds and goes, What the fuck, man?  Of course, the 65$ you plunked down for a Village Côte de Beaune can really motivate you to find something nice to say.  Such is not the case here.  This is a 25$ Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.  I don’t have to find something nice to say.  I just like it because it’s interesting.

2009 BENJAMIN SILVER Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County 14.8


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