Sunday, December 2, 2007

Oonapais, Sonoma Mountain Red by Benziger Family Winery

Click to enlarge. (c)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeSometimes when I talk to my friends about wine, they confess that they have some hesitation about trying a higher price point wine. The fear, uncertainty and doubt creeps in. “What if I buy an expensive bottle and I don’t like it.” “I don’t know what I’m doing in here.” “If I ask the owner, he’ll take me for a ride.” “What if I find out that this was the worst vintage in the history of Bordeaux?”

Buying wine is not about impressing the staff, showing off how much you know or throwing big chunks of money around because you got tired of lighting cigars with it. No, it’s about learning about you. What do you like, what don’t you like. How do you perceive the wine.

Start out with an on-line wine course that you can do in your own home. You will be instructed what style to buy, what price point to pick and how to do the tasting. The course we did instructed us to purchase wines in a good price point and what to look for so we would have a positive experience.

If you are ready to try a wine in a $50.00 price point, here is a sure bet.

Click to enlarge. (c)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeAs you know by now, we are big fans of Benziger Family Winery. If you are skittish about trying a luxury wine, I would suggest you try Oonapais. This is a big red wine that will appeal to just about anyone with a pulse.

Oonapais is estate grown and bottled from the Sonoma Mountain subappellation . This tiny region is on the western edge of the Sonoma Valley AVA. It has poor, rocky soil, gets lots of sun and cool temperatures at night. This is perfect for growing top notch grapes. Sonoma Mountain is home of Benziger’s flagship wines; Tribute, Joaquin’s Inferno Zinfandel and Oonapais.

Oonapais is a good introduction to high end wine. It is smooth, balanced, complex and just plain good. If you are comfortable at this price point, you will recognize the value. Buy this bottle to drink today or buy a case and lay it down for a decade.

Click to enlarge. (c)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeOonapais
Benziger Family Winery
Sonoma Mountain Red
Vintage: 2005
Blend: 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol: 14.5%
Total Acidity: 0.68
pH 3.82
Retail Price: $50.00

Color: Purple
Intensity: Dark
Aromas: Jam, raisin, current, mint, black pepper, smoked meat, chocolate
Flavors: Strawberry, blackberry, cherry, plum, current, mint, earth, struck flint, anise, black pepper, cedar, chocolate.
Body: Full
Acidity: Moderate
Sweetness: Off-dry
Tannins: Silky
Finish: Long

This is a very well crafted wine, well balanced and expressive. The tannins are silky smooth. Think of this wine as you would think of Barbara Stanwick in the Big Valley. Bright, intelligent, balanced, strong yet soft and very classy.
You have great fruit notes, earth, spice, cedar, chocolate, everything you want in a Cab blend. But the key here is Barbara Stanwick, classy and a pleasure to be with.

Serve with Yankee pot roast, Moroccan, Lamb, Red Deer Wellington, or game.

Click to enlarge. (c)2007 SmellsLikeGrape

Dear Diary,

I sit here tonight listening to blues guitar, eating roasted chicken and working on that bottle of Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay I opened over the weekend. I’m writing about Sonoma and Benziger, living the dream. It’s time I gave these poor presbyopic eyes a break and go to bed. I got my day job in the morning. Maybe I’ll get to that posting for the Super Tuscan I cracked open the other night while I was redesigning the blog’s layout.