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