We’ve been itching to get to Brian Benson at least since 2009. We tasted his wines at the Paso Robles wine festival that summer and were sold. I enjoyed his 2005 Denner Vineyard Syrah so well that I ordered a case.
Like Caliza and Booker, Brian Benson recently enjoyed high praise in the pages of Wine Spectator. The three also happen to have their tasting rooms quite near one-another, which makes a fun visit that much easier.
The magazine refers to BB as “the Mechanic” apparently due to his fascination with hot rods. The wine tasting room definitely had an adolescent-fantasy auto mechanic feel: sort of dark, painted in a solid deep red; with lots of posters of cars and various peculiar images that you could imagine as templates for pimping your car. It was not my style, though I could see the appeal for some.
Brian was there on our visit but we didn’t really get the chance to talk to him. Instead we were helped by a lovely young woman who I have to assume is romantically involved with him, as they were snuggling and making out behind the bar at various times during our visit. It was sort of cute though after a while I felt like I was intruding on something personal, which seemed awkward.
At any rate, many of the wines were good. Unfortunately they had sold out of the 2007 S & M, a blend of syrah and mourvedre, hence the name. I know that was good since I ordered a couple bottles for a friend over the holidays.
Kandy Red: This wine comes in candy-striped bottles reminiscent of race cars. A blend of zinfandel, Grenache and mourvedre, it is candy in a glass: sort of strawberry Twizzler like.
2007 cabernet sauvignon: This opaque reddish purple had a nose of camphor and cherry, medium body, berry flavors and some spice on the finish.
2005 Syrah Denner Vineyard: This is the wine that we had a case of. It had lost some of its leathery qualities with a bit of age. This was smooth with interesting berry, tobacco, coffee and toffee notes.
2006 Syrah Denner Vineyard: This one was an opaque purple with candied blueberries and sawdust, medium body, mulberry, plum, red fruit, a hint of leather and some brisk acidity.
2007 Syrah Denner Vineyard: Also an opaque purple with dried herbs, vanilla, red fruit esp. cherry and coffee notes. This is more fruit-forward in style with interesting complexity.
2007 Syrah Glenrose Vineyard: This is an opaque purple black with red fruit and subtle mineral notes. We tasted earth, stone fruit and sarsaparilla. It has a creamy texture and a pleasing somewhat bitter finish. I really liked it and got a couple bottles to take.