Sometimes I’m forced to overcome my prejudices. Banshee’s wines are a case in point. The name Banshee doesn’t really relate to the people involved or the place where the wine is made. And Banshee owns no vineyards and doesn’t own a winery so Banshee is what is called in the trade “a virtual winery” or, sometimes, “a label.” And that is usually something I dismiss pretty quickly. But … I tasted the wines and they were not just good but actually fine to excellent and they over-deliver on bang-for-your-buck so I had to ask some quaetions. Where are the wines made? Through the current vintage, they’ve been made at Copain but now that Kendall-Jackson has bought Copain, they’re moving to become the anchor tenant at a new custom crush facility in northern Sonoma County. Do they buy juice or wine in bulk? No, they purchase grapes and do all their own fermentations. Where do the grapes come from? Actually, from some of the very top vineyards in the North Coast. As it turns out, these are wines of person and place and are made with a lot of attention to process and so meet my definition of fine wine despite the “virtual winery” tag. So OK Bear, get over yourself. If I can do it, you can too. If you’re looking for fine drinking at everyday prices (Aren’t we all?), check ‘em out.
BANSHEE Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, 2015 ($15.79)
100% Sauvignon Blanc (30% of which is the Musque clone) primarily fermented in stainless steel tanks, but 20% was fermented and aged in neutral barrels and 5% in new barrels (80% of the wine completed malolactic fermentation) and aged for 8 months in 75% stainless steel, 20% neutral oak and 5% new oak barrels. Pale-straw with well-formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Fresh, almost New Zealand-style SB with mixed lemon and grapefruit citrus and just a bit of cut green grass over a beam of mineral. Spec’s Score: 91.
BANSHEE Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2014 ($18.89)
100% Chardonay Sourced from Sonoma Coast vineyards (including the famed Heintz Vineyard and Bohemian Green Valley) fermented and aged 11 months in 90% French oak (40% new) and 10% stainless steel tanks. Straw-colored with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity. Supple, focused, balanced. Still quite California but in the most positive way. Almost canned fruit cocktail (but in a good way) in its mix of flavors. The oak is present but integrated. Delicious. BearScore: 90+.
BANSHEE Rosé of Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, 2015 ($16.69)
100% biodynamically-farmed Pinot Noir Rosé. 100% whole cluster pressed with primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks and 4% fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels. The partial malolactic fermentation was allowed to 60% complete. Salmon-orange in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with refreshing acidity and light phenolics. Delicious, easy drinking Rose with mineral and citrus to balance subtle red fruit and earth notes. Spec’s Score: 91.
BANSHEE Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, 2014 ($19.94)
100% Pinot Noir from seventeen mainly Sonoma Coast vineyard sites (including Thorn Ridge and Tina Marie) – 5% whole clusters – given an indigenous yeast fermentation in open top vats with punch downs followed by 11 months aging in French oak barrels (20% new). Red with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Delicious, easy drinking richer style but still juicy red fruit Pinot Noir offering subtle earth, some sweet spice, and a bit of cola. Really yum. BearScore: 91+.
BANSHEE Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2014 ($38.79)
A blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon (Calistoga and Rutherford) and 4% Cabernet Franc (Howell Mountain) given a 47 day maceration (including primary fermentation) with malolactic fermentation following in barrel. Aged 19 months in all French oak barrels (65% new). Purple with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, classically Napa, classically Cabernet offering more red than black fruit accented with tobacco and a hint of pencil shavings. Yum. Classic steak house red. BearScore: 92.