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Alex on Wine: Benson Vineyards Estate Winery's new Super Tuscan

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Benson Vineyards Estate Winery in Manson this week-end will be releasing Cabriovese, a new, Super Tuscan blend. This is exciting news because, as a major fan of the Super Tuscan blends from Italy, I’m delighted to see one being produced here at Benson Estate Vineyards. Having been a fan of winemaker Scott Benson’s Sangiovese for years. I’m expecting this Super Tuscan to be among the best the state has to offer.

“Super Tuscan”, a relatively new term in the wine industry, has become a very important one. Tuscany is a region in West Central Italy; its principal wine districts within the region are Chianti, Brunello de Montalcino and Vino Nobile Montepulciano. The primary red wine grape of the region is the Sangiovese grape. In 1968, a vintner in the small commune of Bolgheri, near Livorno in Tuscany, believing his terrain similar to that of the Graves district in Bordeaux, planted Bordeaux grapes - principally Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc - along with the traditional regional Sangiovese grape. From the plantings, he blended Sassicaia, and the Super Tuscan concept became reality. These Super Tuscan wines are blends of the traditional Sangiovese wines with some of the traditional Bordeaux grape wines. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were in the first such Sassicaia wine. Sassicaia is now a recognized growing district within the region of Tuscany, and several vintners have planted Bordeaux grapes among their Sangiovese vines.

We tasted this wine tonight with a lamb meatball in a Basque sauce; good news is, the wine holds it’s own even under this difficult sauce situation. My assessment of the wine’s quality: the 50%x 50% blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon on the nose favors the cab, but the Sangio does indeed come thru both up front and mid-point on the palate.

Light in texture and body, the wine’s structure favors that Tuscan grape heritage. But what’s more important is the truth that the marriage between the two ancient wine regions produced a Sassicaia kind of end product where the end product was greater than either of the parent elements.

Hat’s off to Scott Benson for this Lake Chelan AVA’s Super Tuscan.

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