Wine Advocate 90 points - More complex and layered, the 2011 Pinot Noir Bench Break has complex underbrush, saddle leather, wild flowers and spice to go with a core of red currant-styled fruit. Medium-bodied, seamless and supple, with a silky, rich texture, it’s an outstanding Pinot Noir that will offer upwards of a decade of longevity. Drink 2015-2021. (Aug 2013)
The fruit from the low-yielding Bench Break Vineyard is hand-harvested from a small, distinct area of the family-owned Cambria estate. Sitting at the highest elevation on the western side of the property, this site speaks boldly of Santa Maria Valley’s ideal climate and vineyard conditions. Formed from alluvial deposits, Bench Break Vineyard’s soils are the shallowest on the estate—restricting vine vigor to promote the growth of fruit with concentrated flavors. The maritime influences that funnel in from the Pacific Ocean, cloak the Santa Maria Valley in mild temperatures, extending the vineyard’s growing season to provide ample time to balance the fruit’s acid profile and develop optimal flavors. Planted to Clone 2A and Clone 23, Bench Break Vineyard is a unique expression of Pinot Noir from our property. Clone 2A, with its small berries packed with intense fruit flavors, has a history of performing extremely
well in this area. Clone 23 adds spice and saturated color to this intense Pinot Noir.
In the vineyard, development of mature flavors lays the foundation for flavor and quality and sets the stage for winemaking. In 2000 Mother Nature provided us with excellent conditions for the
development of distinct, rich Pinot Noir. The vineyard management team was innately aware of the quality throughout the season and carefully managed the growth of this superb crop through
meticulous management techniques. Leaf thinning allowed more sunlight on the clusters for full, even
ripening. Irrigation was minimized to restrict vine vigor and focus the vine’s energy on the development of concentrated flavors. Any underdeveloped fruit was taken off the vines at veraison to promote the growth of densely flavored clusters. The resulting 2000 Pinot Noir crop was exceptional quality.
In the cellar, the goal was to enhance the intensity of flavor and heighten the wine’s overall complexity through careful handling of the already intense quality of fruit. A cold pre-soak and extensive cap management program maximized the extraction of flavor and color from the skins. Nine months in 100% new French oak (Seguin Moreau, Vosges) introduced elegant spice characteristics and seasoned aromatics to the finished wine. Only 1393 cases were produced.