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This is a 'must' for pinot lovers

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Benziger Winery raised the pinot noir bar recently with its 2012 Signaterra ($49) from the iconic La Reyna vineyards.

Located in the western area of the Sonoma Coast Appellation, the “Queen” vineyards thrive in the coastal extremes and nurturing fog from the Pacific Ocean that keep vineyards cool during the growing season.

This thin-skinned “fickle” grape needs this pampering to product multi-layered, sensuous wine. Nature provided the backdrop for an outstanding growing season. Dry spring days were perfect for bud break and cane growth. Early summer wines helped to keep the humidity low.

Benziger’s stewardship of the land and earth friendly growing practices results in this exceptional pinot noir that mirrors the superb 2007 and 1991 vintages.

The garnet hued selection glows in the glass like a Victorian painting hung in a stately mansion. It is bright and velvety with juicy cherry, violet and sweet oak aromas. The main attraction is the lush flavors of strawberry and dark red fruit with silky tannins that linger on the palate.

Pour this elegant wine with wild salmon and fresh dill just off the grill, broiled rack of lamb, beef ragout or after dinner with bitter chocolate or baked brie in pastry.

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