Banshee Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2019

Medium ruby-garnet color; cherry, pomegranate, earth and smoke on the nose; tart cherry, strawberry, plum, raspberry, vanilla on the palate.

Banshee Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2019

Dry; smooth, light tannins and balancing acidity (3.71 pH). There is a flutter of tartness on the mid-palate and finish to add interest in intrigue. Light-medium body. Grapes were hand-picked, then fermented in small, cool temperature stainless steel. Reserved oak. Wine aged nine months in 25% new French wood. The previous vintage had a more assertive oak regimen. This takes a more elegant tack, but did not lose its earthy notes. Ripe, tasty fruit. Smooth easy drinker. This lacks some depth and complexity, but it wins on the charm of its excellent fruit, especially at its price point. 14.2% ABV

Banshee traces its roots to a bar in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. Three friends—Steve Graf, Baron Ziegler, and Noah Dorrance from the Midwest and East Coast—shared a passion for wine and a lifelong dream of owning their own winery. They do not own land, but have lease agreements with vineyards to provide the fruit. Ross Cobb was the winemaker for this effort. Alicia Sylvester is the Banshee head winemaker today.

Banshee Wines vineyard

With money borrowed from friends and family, the proprietors made eight barrels of Sonoma Coast pinot noir. Their goal was to make quality pinot at an affordable price. By 2013 they were able to open a tasting room in downtown Healdsburgh. The winery asserts it is: “a refreshing and relaxed take on your typical tasting room. It’s more like hanging out at their house and sharing some wine with family, rather than bellying up to an ever-crowded tasting bar.”

Banshee Wines pinot noir grapes

The website continues: “Our main focus for Pinot Noir is on the cool, rugged, coastal areas of the far Western Sonoma Coast. Each vineyard has a unique combination of a specific oceanic influence, soil type, elevation, age and exposure but the common thread is that they allow us to pursue Pinot that achieves power without weight. They allow the grapes to express a certain transparency. They highlight a wide range of flavors other than just fruit. Forest floor, pine, tea, mushroom, spice, minerals.”

Banshee Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2019 presents the elegant, ethereal side of pinot noir at a superb price point. Very pleasant, fresh, easy drinker. Simple presentation of quality pinot noir fruit. Recommended for a good, relaxed red wine adventure. This can be enjoyed as a solo sipper, as a companion to a charcuterie board and genteel conversation. Pair with lighter beef cuts; veal; lamb; salmon and other fish and seafood; turkey and poultry in general, not fried; bacon/sausage and eggs breakfast if you want to go all-in decadent. Cheese—washed-rind cheeses; nutty cheeses; gruyere; taleggio; avoid intense cheeses as they could overwhelm this pour. $19-25

Banshee Wines website

Banshee Wines vineyard
Banshee Wines barrel aging
Banshee Wines tasting room
Banshee winemaker Alicia Sylvester