93 Points Wine Enthusiast: Benziger Tribute is a deeply colored, elegantly structured wine with a core of sweet, concentrated black fruit marked by nuances of herbs and chocolate which are reflected in the aromas. The supporting tannins are silky and ripe yet firm, complemented by balanced, finely honed acidity. The finish is long, complex and vibrant.
The Benziger Sonoma Mountain estate comprises 30 acres of gardens, woodlands, riparian areas, wetlands, cover crops and wildlife sanctuaries as well as 42 acres of vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety, with smaller plantings of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Old Vine Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. Tribute is a Meritage estate blend of these first four Bordeaux varieties, each block of which is harvested, vinified and aged separately based on exposure, elevation, soil composition, rootstock and clone. The composition varies by vintage, with Cabernet Sauvignon accounting for 50% to 80% of the finished wine. The result is a wine of unique character with a profound sense of place.
At Benziger, we’re about three things: family, great wine and healthy vineyards. For more than thirty years we’ve searched Sonoma County for the most distinctive and expressive vineyard sites. Once found, we tended these properties using certified Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods. The result is a portfolio of authentic and memorable wines.
Our family has been growing grapes on Sonoma Mountain for close to thirty years. My brother Mike and his wife Mary discovered this vineyard in the late seventies and purchased the property with the help of my parents Bruno and Helen. It soon became a real family affair when our brothers Joe, Bob and Jerry joined the business, followed by my sister Patsy and her husband Tim. As the youngest siblings, my sister Kathy and I came along with our parents and spent our high school years as New York transplants in a Sonoma vineyard.
In the beginning we farmed the same way as everyone else around here. You spray to keep the weeds in check, to keep the bugs away, and to increase yield per vine. It worked for a little while and the wines were decent. But after a few years Mike really pushed us to consider something different. The earth didn’t look as rich as it once had. Things seemed drier and harder and quieter. Once we really started thinking about the cycles of nature and how interrelated everything is, we realized that our farming approach - while certainly modern - was a little backward.
Tribute is a first of its kind. Made entirely from estate-grown grapes, this Bordeaux blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon reveals the complexity and individuality of our Benziger family Sonoma Mountain estate. Tribute was the first Demetercertified Biodynamic® wine from Sonoma County and one of the first from North America. 2007 was the first year of a three year drought in California. In retrospect we got the best of both worlds - good moisture and nutrients in the soil and nice dry conditions in the vineyard. The weather and temperature were consistently moderate throughout the vintage. The vines ripened slowly under very little stress. We had long hang time ensuring maximum flavor development. It really was an exceptional vintage.