Milky pink garnet out to thin edges with a hint of amber. Big weedy stemmy briar jump out, doing a little toasted almond Pinot noir dance on vegetal funk and barnyard acrid. Dirty and still and at the same time riven with life with bright berry and gentle spice.
Riverbench finds its way into a fair number of bottlings–and single-bottlings–in Santa Maria Valley, as it is large, perfectly situated across the river from Nielson on dredge tailings, well-farmed, and–like Nielson–one of the oldest Pinot vineyards in SMV. I’m a decent fan of Riverbench Winery itself, as well. They tend to be made in a bit more of a tourist style than some of their neighbors and many of the bottlings arising from their land under the guidance of others. This is one of those bottles. Joshua Klapper is indeed a brilliant young gun in SMV, cranking out a plethora of easy-to-enjoy, well-priced bottles of Pinot every year. The LaFenetre label is no more, and has been replaced with TIMBRE. And yes, I’ve had a fair share of them. I found this orphan lingering on a shelf in one of my favorite shops for local wines and just couldn’t resist.
In the mouth, bitter straw and horse-stall run a black-tea course through the mouth, dropping slightly-flabby fruit on the thick of the tongue and bringing all the green stemmy gnarl from the nose to work on the finish. A ridiculously elegant Pinot, and decidedly Burgundian–but of course with a little Southern California sunshine and a few drops of Santa Maria root-beer. I’m almost sorry I’m drinking it.
2012 LA FENETRE Pinot Noir Riverbench Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara Co. 13.5