Sometimes touring Napa Valley wineries can become a bit repetitive. Cabernet, cabernet and more cabernet. Now, I love Napa cab, but a brief departure from it can offer a palate refreshing break. A great place for this break is Benessere. Founded in 1994 by John and Ellen Benish, they wanted a place to remind them of a beloved trip to Italy they had taken. So, instead of planing more cabernet, they committed to planing Italian varieties like sangiovese, aglianico and even sagrantino.  While John sadly passed away in October of 2018, his family is committed to maintaining his vision of producing wonderful wines using grape varieties from Italy. Benessere’s winemaker, Matt Reid says he makes wine because “it makes me happy and I want to share that happiness.” His wines convey this happiness. Beautiful Italian-like acidity, balanced by the sun-kissed fruit of Napa make for some very special wines.  I met with Ryan Shenk, DTC Sales and Hospitality Manager at Benessere to walk the vineyards of Benessere and of course, to taste some delicious wines.

Now available on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and Google Play. Click Subscribe above.

Check out our sponsor,  the total Chicago food experience, bringing you the stories of Chicago’s chefs, restaurants, and people who make food all over town, in words, pictures, video and audio. Read local– read

Ryan V1 (1)Ryan Shenk, Benessere Vineyards

Sangiovese 2014

2016 Benessere Sangiovese

Pale garnet in color. Aromas of fresh strawberry, cherries, and a bit of toasty oak. On the palate this medium bodied wine shows flavors of cherry, leather, mocha, with hints of anise. Fine, grippy tannins and mouth watering acidity make this a wine which screams for food.

SRP: $38


Phenomenon 2014

2015 Benessere Phenomenon, Super Tuscan Blend

Aroma of roses, fresh herbs and fresh red berries. The body of this wine is nicely balanced, neither too rich nor too lean. Flavors of cranberry, currant, and blueberry, with a touch of menthol. Bright acid and super fine tannin finish this finessed wine.

SRP:  $60


Aglianico 2014

2015 Benessere Aglianico, Collins Holystone Vineyard

Intense garnet color. Rich aromas of dark plum, black cherry, blueberry, lavender and notes of black pepper. This full bodied wine is balanced by a nice minerality, youthful grippy tannin and flavors of grenadine, cola, and vanilla.

SRP:  $62


Sagrantino 2014

2015 Benessere Sagrantino

Deep ruby in color this wine presents finessed aromas of dark fruits, exotic spices and forest floor. Like sagrantino from Umbria this wine has a massive tannic structure, but is balanced out bu Napa Valley sunshine that brings about lush fruit with whispers of cocoa and espresso. Enjoy with lamb. You can thank me later.

SRP:  $60