BENTROCK VINEYARD, STA. RITA HILLS
BLOCK 2, DIJON CLONE 115 + BLOCK 3, DIJON CLONE 777
Within the 85 acre Bentrock Vineyard there are two contiguous 4 acre blocks (#2 and #3) that together may comprise the greatest vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills. Location is part of it. Bentrock is in the heart of the western end of the appellation, the end that is making the darkest, most concentrated wines. It lies between Sanford & Benedict to the east, and Radian to the west. So, another good name for Bentrock might be Between The Titans. Blocks 2 and 3 are on a sublime 15 acre hill top that protrudes out into the Santa Ynez River Valley from the north facing Santa Rosa Hills. It is completely exposed to the ocean breeze that runs through the valley almost every day. It is stunning and it is majestic, and it lies on top of one of those hills that I used to stare at for the first 20 years of my career, wondering what if. What if that little bench up there had Pinot Noir planted on it. That might just be as good as it gets. Then, a few years ago I looked up and there it was, a vineyard that might just harness as much potential as a great appellation has to give. The other super-blocks in the great vineyards that I started to work with at that time, Slice Of Heaven, Radical, Appellation’s Edge, Ocean’s Ghost, they were all setting a new context for me, a context of greatness. When I walked into blocks 2 and 3 at Bentrock, it felt like a mind bending Déjà vu, the reality of which would raise the bar.
Each block has a good clone. Block 2 is Dijon 115, and Block 3 is Dijon 777. The rootstocks, 3309 and 101-14 respectively, are perfectly matched for each clone. Of all the acreage planted at Bentrock, two blocks have a perfect row direction that puts their crop in the shade of the vine’s canopies at 1:30 in the afternoon, the time of day when a little relief from the sun is most needed. That would be blocks 2 and 3. There are rocks in the ground that are reminiscent of Radical (Block 41 at Radian), but the soil looks to be more of a classic Botella. If there is a vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills that is more radical than Radical, this might just be it. It is far enough to the west to experience the same intense cool breeze that bathes Appellation’s Edge, yet its centrality makes it feel a little bit more like Slice Of Heaven.