In geological terms, a 'bench' is a flat, generally narrow stretch of land bordered by steeper forms on either side, usually hills and a river or dried river bed. For wine fans these are interesting formations because they generally indicate unique changes happening in the soils from long periods of erosion that wouldn't be found in most flat terrain, and soil change is a hallmark for distinct character in wines from their neighbors. One of the most famous American examples is the Rutherford Bench in Napa, bordered by the Mayacamas Mountains and Napa River and home to a high concentration of fabled vineyards for well over a century. For this producer their goal is to source fruit from only benchland style vineyard sites to capture more of this distinct character, primarily Knight's Valley in this case. The results are evident on the first pour, full of cassis and dark red fruits with an earthier edge of dust and dried wood, intense but not from heat or sweet extracted fruit. The palate is remarkably polished for the price point, silky and cool with lots of dark earthy fruits and some fine lingering tannins only showing through on the finish, bringing out some acidity and higher toned red fruits there. It drinks a lot 'cooler' in character and with some restraint, even reigning in the alcohol, but it isn't lacking for flavor in the slightest. The California landscape is littered with Cabernet Sauvignons that do far less for far more money; this is an overachiever.
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