Mike Smith and Jim Barbour’s “Bench Pressing” Cabernets!

Bench Vineyards is a family venture between husband and wife, Sam Sharp and Allison Steltzner. The Estate consists of 30 acres and sits next door to Odette and some other great Stag’s Leap vineyards. The name “Bench Vineyards” comes from its unique topography – a true “benchland” vineyard located on the eastern side of the Napa Valley, directly below the Stag’s Leap Palisades.

The vineyard was planted in 1964.  Fast forward to 2011. The family hires two of Napa’s most sought after individuals – Vineyardist extraordinaire Jim Barbour and his team to “recultivate” the vineyard, and 100 point winemaker Mike Smith (Myriad, Carter, 12c, Scarlett, Quivet, etc.). Mike and Jim were very impressed with the potential and after trial blends in 2012 and 13 they officially released the first “commercial” wine in 2014.   The 2016 wines will really impress you, as the team has 3 years under its belt now!

Bench Vineyards 2016 “Circa 64” Estate Proprietary Red, Stag’s Leap
GGWC 124.99
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Mix & match with Bench Cabernet

Winery Notes: “A luxurious blend of three components from the Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Our inaugural release of this wine was in 2014, led by second-generation vintner Allison Steltzner and her husband Sam Sharp. They drew inspiration from the landscape of the property in creating Bench Vineyards project.  This wine provides amazing texture with lovely blue and red fruits, with a long elegant finish.  The aromas are complex with notes of dark fruit, violets, ripe plums and a hint of toasted cedar.  On the palate, this wine has flavors of rich and smokey pipe tobacco and a slight hint of cedar.  It is wine is well balanced with a beautiful structure and manages to glide smoothly across the palate, finishing with a long lingering finish.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Circa 64 is juicy, forward, and undeniably delicious. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cassis, bay leaf, violets, and spice all flow to a plump, opulent red that has excellent freshness and purity.”

Vinous 93 Points: “The 2016 Circa 64, Bench’s Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Petit Verdot blend, is gorgeous. Succulent dark cherry, lavender, spice, mint, and chocolate all run through this racy yet mid-weight Stags Leap red. The 2016 is pure class through and through.”

Bench Vineyards 2016 “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap
GGWC 149.99
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Mix & match with Bench Circa

Mike Smith crafted a Cabernet Sauvignon that is a masculine in style, yet maintains the elegance of the Stag’s Leap region hallmark.  The fruit is sourced from the estate’s older Martini Clone that was planted 30+ years ago. It offers striking aromas that jump out of the glass on impact.  The wine, although very full in body and loaded with lush blue and black stone fruits show great roundness and elegance not seen in many Napa Cabernets of this caliber.  The is an over-abundance of richness, purity and complexity in this wine leading to a long and elegant, fine-grained tannin finish. Limited production!

Vinous 94 Points: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big step up from the 2015. Deep and wonderfully nuanced, while retaining a mid-weight sense of structure, the 2016 delivers tons of Stags Leap character. Inky blue/purplish fruit, licorice, lavender and spice are all strikingly delineated. The firm tannins need time to soften, but that should not be an issue. In this vintage, all of the lots were fermented in barrel. More importantly, the 2016 points to a very bright future for Bench Vineyards. Winemaker Mike Smith has done a brilliant job with this super-expressive Cabernet.”

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a vineyard selection of the best blocks of Cabernet on the Steltzner Vineyard. Smoke tobacco, cassis, licorice, scorched earth and hints of toasty oak give way to a plump, rounded, opulent and beautifully pure Cabernet Sauvignon that’s going to be hard to resist on release.”

Winery Notes: “This stunning Cabernet comes from our southern most block of our Estate.  The vineyard was planted with cuttings acquired in the late 1960s from Louis Martini senior’s backyard in Saint Helena.   The second vintage produced of this wine, the aromas are intense and complex with rich cassis, blackberries, and cedar notes.There are juniper berries and notes of spice with good weight and structure.  A silky texture, and a clean, long finish provide ample tannins for aging.”

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