Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Perfect Kiss

The Perfect Kiss
 The soft touch of your lips
 Calls to me as our worlds become one
 And our souls collide in conversation of
 Whispered feelings that light up
 The flame of welcome desire
 Can be seen in our eyes
 As we plan our escape
 From the present into a place
 That we share in our hearts
 That beat rhythmically with the pulse
 Of the music playing softly
 In the background of our minds
 That store thoughts of our evening
 In hopes it will never end
 Without the soft touch of your lips.

 By Bryan Bennington

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pine Lane

Pine Lane


Follow the brick road up the hill.

It’s a path I choose to take by will.

As it narrows, this path I follow,

Will lead me to a tranquil hollow.


A twist and turn takes me to,

Mr Squirrel who says hello how do you do?

Blue blazes hide from camouflaging skies.

Like skeletons the tree trunks rise.


The hawk flies above telling his tail,

As wires cross the sky to reveal his cell.

The nuthatch & woodpecker keep me company,

While my staff holds my hand confidently.


Pines surround me and through the earth,

Arms reach up to steal my birth.

I watch my step, not allowing them to savor,

Avoiding their hands and returning the favor.


Down the hill the silence comes,

A defining note that the forest hums.

A deer passes by and I keep his pace.

Eye to eye I stride till he wins the race.


Through the hut of fallen vine,

A home in Walden should be so fine.

In the summer I am sure it provides,

A slumber for the wolf within its ivies.


Alas, I’ve come to the end

Humans stop me and question.

I turn to take the road back home

And at the fork I am not alone.


My friends on Pine Trail whisper to me,

Keep us company and you will see,

The faces of the trees on your way back

And the peace that you seek will not lack.


Now the forest is the tamer and I am the shrew

The path has changed due to the hue.

Trying not to get lost in this bewildering sight

I listen to her whisper as day turns to night.


Finding my way through valley and hillside

With a kinder heart for those who reside.

Back on the trail where the deer darted

The blue blazes brought me to the brick road where I started.


By Bryan Bennington


Season One



The sun shines brightly,

Though death lies in its rays.

As life is renewed

To those who have paid.


The cardinal sings a song

That awakens the dead.

While the frost blankets birth

As the weed bears its head.


The skeletons wail,

Their life long been borrowed.

As their seed hails

The awaking hour.


Luminous the day grows,

The timeless scene unveiled

As the witness of the ageless past

Reminds us that life won’t last.


In an instant the stars rush bye

The smells of death wave and sigh.

The life of new, the canvas shows

Is the power of he who knows.


That in this time of grey and shower,

Life’s precious price is paid tomorrow.


By Bryan Bennington

In Memory



As loving as a child

Full of peace and kindness

Unconditional giving without taking

Beautiful and full of life

Always in the presents of God


As beautiful as a snow fall

A winter day dressed in white

The glistening branches

Like jewels on a forest

Inviting the sun to share its splendor


As caring as a mother

Giving her soul to her children

A smile that shines brightly

And lights up the room

Inviting, giving, sharing, never ending


As wonderful as a women

A companion for life

Through good times and bad

Organized, caressing, listening, cooking

Proud to be by his side, without a regret


As giving as a friend

Willing to sacrifice everything

Teaching, laughing, always asking

Comforting on the saddest days

Illuminating happiness the next


As perfect as a sunset

Peaceful and wonderful

Knowledge that all was fulfilled

Laying to rest on the horizon

Waiting to show its face once more



Daughter, wife, mother, and friend

To know her was to love her

You will never be forgotten

With love till we meet again


By Bryan Bennington

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Choose a Path

As men we need nothing,

But society believes us to need everything.

At Walden, a man needs nothing more than his own skin.

But not the citizen in public, who finds himself naked like Adam.

It is he, who has his eyes opened to society,

And blisters himself to hide in home and clothing too substantial.


Count your possessions, and tally your expenses,

Then decide which ones are necessary and which are mere waste.

Would your nakedness be hidden,

If you never acquired as much in the first place?

History of a vine...

The story goes: In 1856 a German-Swiss immigrant named Adam Uhlinger brought the first Zinfandel vine planting over from Europe and started a winery in Amador County. Now, the Sobon family owns the original vineyards, which still are home to those original Zinfandel plants; which brings us to our wines this month. Sobon Estate Old Vine Zinfandel and Viognier are made by the Sobon family in a state of the art sustainable facility.
The lineage of California’s Zinfandel vines dates back to the mid-1800s. Although, the claim of Mr. Uhlinger was not legally recorded, it is uncertain if the vines Adam Uhlinger planted were the first Zinfandel plants in California. Nevertheless, for argument sake, we will say they were. Since then, the deed to the vineyards has traded hands multiple times. The original winery “D’Agostini Winery” started by Mr. Uhlinger. still stands. This historical building, made from hand cut stone from a nearby quarry and contains barrels used by Uhlinger that he made himself from California Oak, is now a Museum, displaying the relevance of Amador Wine Country. The Sobon family purchased the land and winery in 1989. The Sobon Estate has taken increasing strides year after year to become a natural and sustainable winery. Along with their other property, Shenandoah Vineyards, the Sobons have taken Amador County wine making to the highest level.

At Shenandoah Vineyards, a state of the art solar system has been installed. This 63-Kw photovoltaic system supplies the winery with 100% of its electrical needs; as well as having been retrofitted with the most efficient lighting technology. The carbon footprint of both wineries has surpassed the neutral rating. Meaning they eliminate more CO2 from the environment than they use. Both properties recycle everything back into the eco-system. All paper, glass and metal waste is reused as seen fit. All the compost is put back into the vineyards to guarantee fertile soil, crucial for the vines vigor.  

Leon and Shirley Sobon founded Shenandoah Vineyards in 1977. They have grown their winery from producing 1,200 cases to well over 40,000 cases per year. Their goal has always been to produce wines that showed the true character of the grape and terrior, with allowing as little input from humans as possible. Now their son Paul carries on this tradition. Paul’s knowledge of wine making and vineyard management stems from his experiences in Europe, Australia, Japan and his degree from UC Davis in California. Paul has taken tradition one step further, by using hand sorting methods from the vineyard to crush and crushing the Zinfandel grapes by foot, this eliminates another step often done by machinery.
Sobon Estate is responsible for making some of the best Zinfandels in California; as they should be, if they are using the oldest Zinfandel vines in the state. This month our red wine is one of those wines. The Sobon 2010 Old Vines Zinfandel received a score of 91 points, phenomenal for a wine that retails for $14.99 a bottle. This is a fragrant, rich, full-bodied Zinfandel with a bold fruit forward approach. It is a wine made for everyday consumption; however, it will improve for up to five years of bottle age. The wine is comprised of 97% Zinfandel, from several of their old vineyards, and 3% Petite Sirah. The use of older oak barrels during the aging process helps maintain the fruits freshness. In 2012, this Old Vine Zin won a gold medal at The World Wine Championships and a silver medal at the San Francisco State Fair. This wine pairs well with any grilled meat or pasta dish. We also recommend pairing this Zin with BBQ chicken wings, pizza or any other football game fare you may bring to the table.  
Our white wine from Sobon is their 2011 Viognier. The Sobon family has committed this Estate primarily to Rhone style wines. The vineyards are comprised of not only old vine Zinfandels, but also Rousanne, Viognier, Syrah, Tannant, Petite Sirah, as well as Sangiovese and Barbera. I believe this (Sobon) Viognier is one of the best I have ever had, including wines from France. The grapes are from mature vines, receiving no irrigation, which produce small yields of highly intense flavored berries. The aromas are capturing. The smell of meadow flowers along with hints of peach and honeysuckle transform into a mouth-watering seduction of fruit and spice with a long lingering finish. This Viognier was barrel fermented and left on lees to create its dynamic flavors. The winemaker recommends seafood and even pepper-steak to pair with this wine. We agree with the pairing of pepper-steak, but this leaves the door open for other spicy foods such as Szechwan or a milder green curry dish. Honestly, this wine is perfect by itself and food need not get in the way of the wonderful flavors that Paul has obtained in this wine. Just a note, the Viognier is a small batch wine and is completely sold out (we got everything they had left)!


R.C. Distributors

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Poetry of Wine

by: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
Two ladies to the summit of my mind Have clomb,
to hold an argument of love.
The one has wisdom with her from above,
For every noblest virtue well designed:
The other, beauty's tempting power refined
And the high charm of perfect grace approve:
And I, as my sweet Master's will doth move,
At feet of both their favors am reclined.
Beauty and Duty in my soul keep strife,
At question if the heart such course can take
And 'twixt the two ladies hold its love complete.                                                         
The fount of gentle speech yields answer meet,
That Beauty may be loved for gladness sake,
And Duty in the lofty ends of life.

Dante Alighieri wrote about his life experiences. His poem and sonnet collections carry deep meaning, matters pertaining to life, love and death. As I read his work, “Of Beauty and Duty” I tried to forge an analogy from the poem that would pertain to wine. Dante reflects on the beauty of his lover as genuine by youth and nature. While his arranged marriage to an aristocrat is beautiful because it is her duty. I contemplate on the fact that wine is about life, love and death. We have to agree that all wine begins in the vineyard, where life is reborn every spring at bud break. The love comes from within the caretaker of the vine. He brings the true beauty to the vine. It is in the vineyard where the promise of true beauty resides. The vine and the fruit it bears are beautiful by nature. As for the duty-ness, I see the wine that came forth from the vine as beautiful by arrangement. The wine may appeal to one person and not another. The magical picturesque beauty is long gone; all that remains is liquid. However, a person may find the wine beautiful by opinion, which is the wine’s duty. As for death, the vine surely preludes death in the fall as it drops its decorous beauty and seemingly holds its breath as it falls into a deep slumber. While the wines death is sure to come as the bottle is emptied; never to be awakened.

Our wines this month come from the Boscaini family, who manage the Masi and Alighieri wineries. In the late 18th century, the Boscaini family purchased a little valley called “Vaio dei Masi,” of which the family retains ownership to this day. Since then, 16 generations later, the Masi Company has grown systematically through land purchases in the best viticultural areas of the Veneto. Masi is also involved in the management of the historical estate in Valpolicella, Serego Alighieri, which belonged to Dante’s son, since 1353.

Veneto is the northern most wine region in Italy and is responsible for a large percentage of Italy’s wine production. The appellation consists of large plains and hillsides composed of clay and calcareous debris. The hot summers and cool winters are moderated by the Adriatic Sea. Wine making around Venice has been traced back more than 2000 years. It is believed that the Romans learned the secret of making Amarone from prior civilizations. 

Masi is known worldwide for its Amarone; a wine created by drying fresh grapes to concentrate the juice before pressing, yielding an unctuous nectar suitable for the gods. Our wine, not an Amarone, is made from the indigenous grapes: Refosco and Raboso. Our red wine reveals a fruity, friendly wine, with flavors of ripe cherry, plum, sweet spice, and herbs, combined with good structure and excellent balance between acidity and soft tannins. This wine is perfectly suited to pair with polenta, mushrooms, herbs, pasta, beans, stews and hard cheeses.

Our white wine is from the Alighieri Estate. Possessioni Bianco is made from combining the intense aromas of Sauvignon Blanc with the elegance of the Garganega grape with its characteristic aftertaste of almonds. This unique white wine should be consumed at 50°F to optimize the aromas and balance the acidity. Food pairings for this Bianco are antipasti, fish, chicken or veal. The Venetians favor sardines, and mussels as well as pasta tossed with grilled vegetables.

I found this wine’s intriguing flavor to also pair well with biscotti and Tiramisu as a dessert.

2007 Serego Alighieri

Possessioni Bianco

Veneto, Italy


Alcohol: 12.5%

Grape varieties: 70% Garganega

                             30% Sauvignon

Suggested retail: $12.99 750ml



2008 Masi

Modello Delle Venezie

Valpolicella, Italy


Alcohol: 12%

Grape varieties: Refosco & Reboso

Suggested retail: $14.99 750ml


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lost Love

Somewhere between the undulating hillsides of the Rhone Valley lies a lost love affair. Jean and Jeanné were two people who found each other through their passion for wine. Many years have passed since Jean first set eyes on his true love. Whatever happened to this fantastic affair? Continue to sip your wine and envision two hearts colliding in the midst of Jean’s wine cellar….

Jean spent the past seven days sorting through grape clusters from 10 different vineyards. Although this year’s harvest was superb, Jean wanted to make a statement with his first Rhone wine he would make in over five years. Jean saw his wine making as an art form; a way of seducing the earth and creating a wine that men and women would lust for. This first release also needed to impress the family of a special woman he had met years ago. Jean usually had a quiet personality, unless he was with people he knew well, then his true nature would come out; a fun, humorous, and cunning man when it came to games. His light brown hair was cut short and he parted it to the side; this allowed his blue eyes to gaze freely. He was an avid runner. He always enjoyed jogging the rolling hills wherever he went. His slim frame and toned shape brought many opportunities for him to meet young women. But Jean could never settle down, he had taken exception to Jeanné years ago and no “le belle femme” ever seemed to steal his heart away as she did.   He enjoyed the last five years he spent in Austria, but he longed for the smell of France and the romance he had left behind.

Jeanné was a vision Jean could never extinguish from his mind. Their romance was like a fairy tale; an affair that crossed the boundaries of family tradition and public acceptance. Jeanné was a slender, athletic woman who stood near Jean’s height; he remembered how superbly their two shapes molded into each other’s. Her hair was dark brown, silky and flowing. She had graceful arms, beautiful hands and perfectly manicured fingernails. Jeanné had brown eyes that could capture Zeus himself and Jean had fallen victim to her eyes the first time they met. Her smile was sincere which showed off her perfectly shaped lips and cheek bones. Jean could still smell her perfume; it was locally made from the flowers, herbs and honey at a neighboring winery.

They had spent countless hours talking and sipping wine next to the stone wall, near the chapel on the hill. Jean was working with Jeanne’s family at the time as an apprentice wine maker. Jean had a radical mind when it came to making his wine. Of course, when you are young you want to be different and put yourself out there to get noticed. But it all backfired when Jeanne’s family exiled him from their winery. Her family was traditional and followed the strict guidelines allowed by the Appellation Contrôlée of the Rhone. Jean always wondered if he made the right choice by leaving. Hindsight tells him now that he should never had left, because a piece of him would always be in France.
After all those years Jean never found what he was searching for; the glamour and love always seemed just out of his reach. So, he headed back to France willing to be conventional and wondering whatever became of Jeanné. Little did he know that she had heard of his return and was anxious to see him. Over the years, Jeanné never married. Although her family and friends tried diligently to find a suitor, Jeanné never found the honesty, compassion or friendship she had with Jean. She enjoyed his company and her memories of the little surprises he would bring her for no reason. She longed to hold him in her arms and set out to make sure he felt the same way.
Jean had just finished washing his purple stained hands when he heard Baucus, a Cocker Spaniel half-breed that came with Jean’s new winery, barking. He walked towards the cellar door. The evening sun was shining its rays through the seams of the doorway and as the door opened the silhouette of a tall, slim frame appeared. A breeze blew in from the doorway and Jean could see the hair of what seemed a vision flowing like wheat in a field--then a perfume that he could never forget stopped him in his tracks.
“Bonjour” a soft voice called, “Jean est-ce vous?”
Jean thought his heart had stopped beating and caught himself out of breath. Soon he felt his heart racing and a rush of happiness seemed to lift him off the ground and plant him directly in front of the vision that came through the door. As Jean collected himself, he caught his breath long enough to say,

“Bonjour Jeanné, Oui, cest moi, je suis très heureux de vous voir?”Jean confirmed.
Jeanne’s voice awakened, “J’ai entendu que vous revient à démarrer voltre proper vignoble.”
“Oui, je suis arrive juste avant la récolte. C’est une tâche ardue sans embauchè l’aide. Mais, je m’ennuie de l’odeur de la France, et maintenant je reçois de vous voir,” Jean testified.
She could hardly believe it was really Jean. Jeanné wanted to run into his arms and never let go. They sat down at a small table in the room and talked for hours while sipping wine. Finally, Jeanné asked if Jean had eaten dinner, she was hungry and the wine was starting to go to her head. Jean recommended he bring out some Veau Marengo, a veal stew he made yesterday. The wine they were drinking was a Côtes-du-Rhône rouge Jean picked up at the market. He thought he would try some of the local wines and use them as a gauge. After all, winemaking is serious business here and he wanted to be the best. The wine had a youthful magenta color and a nose full of red berries and herbs. The flavors of raspberry, dried strawberry, pepper and herbs paired well with the stew and the soft tannins worked harmoniously with the rich dish. Jeanné reflected on Jean’s cooking skills. She always came over hungry anticipating the wonderful aromas and flavors Jean would develop in the kitchen; or if they went on a picnic she would pack the sandwiches. She would sit at the table with friends laughing and talking; occasionally she would glace over and watch Jean prepare their meal with focus and precision. Jean enjoyed cooking almost as much as he enjoyed making wine. He liked the chemistry of cooking; he took note of how different herbs worked with each type of meat and sauce, and how each dish paired with the wine he would pick.
After more talk about Jean’s adventures in Austria, he went back to the kitchen and brought out some homemade goat cheese, almonds, and dried fruit; he opened a bottle of Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc to pair with his dessert. Jean took notice of the toxic aromas of the white wine: pear, apple, white peach, anise and herbs. Jean was a red wine guy and never had the knack for making white wine, although he did enjoy consuming them. Jeanné shared her experiences as the marketing director at the local museum and her sales for some of the local wineries. Jeanne’s personality was perfect for any type of public relations; she was always smiling, accommodating, gracious, and of course she was beautiful. They talked for hours and caught up with each other’s past; it seemed the only thing left to talk about was their future. The evening grew to night and the night was greeting the morning when Jean took notice of the time. He knew he had to get started with the grapes soon.
 Jean pardoned himself, “Il est Presque matin, vous devez être sur vitre chemin.”
“Je ne veux pas aller, quand puis-je vous revoir?” Jeanné sighed.
“Je vais être occupé avec le vin pour les deux prochaines semaines. Après la fête la récolte, je serai toute à toi,“ explained Jean.
As the two walked towards the door, Baucus was just coming in from his morning tour of the grounds. The birds were singing in the trees and Jean could smell the morning dew. As the eastern sun pierced through the windows it cast a glow on Jeanne’s face. When Jean looked at Jeanné he could see his life shining brightly with her by his side. The sounds of children playing and friends laughing rang through his thoughts. He always knew Jeanne’s free spirit was good for him. He wanted to share his travel experiences and discoveries with her. For a moment, time stood still as Jean reflected on his future.
Jean was awakened from his trance by the close whisper of Jeanné, “Jean… Jean, vous semblez perdu”
Jean’s passion raced through his veins like the whitewater of a swollen river in spring. His gaze was planted directly into Jeanne’s eyes as he placed his hand on the back of her graceful neck and pulled her towards him. Her hair was soft and Jeanne’s neck buckled to the gentle touch of his hand. Jeanné had a look of surprise and longing dancing within her eyes. Jean could smell the scent of wine on her warm breath. They leaned into each other and their lips joined simultaneously with their figures.
As Jean waived to Jeanné, he knew the addiction for her had never vanquished. He now had a place of his own and a reason for staying here. No matter what obstacles confronted them they would stay together. Jean had all the inspiration he needed to become the most recognized vintner in the region.
I hope the wine told its story well.
C’est la vie!

by Bryan Bennington

Monday, September 3, 2012

Before and After

Mid-September 1990, I was looking for a bottle of wine at the Wine Barrel on Home Avenue in Akron, to save for a special occasion. I never collected wine before and I was hesitant in making my choice; until I spotted a wrapped bottle tucked behind some California Cabernets. I proceeded to move two or three bottles out of the way so I could remove the bottle from it's chamber. I carefully peeled back the cocoon hiding the wine. After all, I was not sure I wanted it and I may have to re-wrap it and put it back. It was a 1986 Beringer Reserve Cabernet.

Now this 25 year old did not know much about wine at the time, just taking baby steps back then. But I was enthralled by the shape of the bottle; it had wide shoulders, a hefty weight in the glass, and the label was quit sophisticated. The price of the Beringer was $29. I thought this is cool, I think I'll get it. When I approached the sales counter the clerk assured me that I picked a "really nice bottle." "Thanks," I said "I think I will keep it awhile."

Well, as we all know that bottle put Beringer on the world stage. Ed Sbragia, the man behind the wine became quite famous and his wines are sought out all over the globe. The 1986 Reserve Cab he made took the #1 spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list that year. Once I got news of that, I told myself I would never drink it, for sentimental reasons. It was then that my love for wine really started and my collecting of finer wines began.

Years went by and the millennium was approaching. We all thought the world was coming to an end as we knew it. So, after 14 years I decided it was time to savor the secret essence inside my fabled 1986 bottle.

I must say, I was disappointed. The bottle had experienced three moves and hadn't been stored properly the whole time. The wine showed signs of greatness. But like an old man who can tell many stories about his past, there are parts that he can not remember. From that day on I made sure my storage facility was less compromising.

The other day I was at a friends home. We were deciding what to imbibe when my buddy pulled out a 1997 Beringer Reserve Cabernet. Wow, I told him my story and the decision was made to open the 1997. I was anxious to discover how this newer version, which had been stored correctly, had developed over the past 15 years.

I pulled the faultless cork from its prison; only to reveal a dark burgundy stain on the bottom of its foot. Two short pours, a couple rigorous swirls and a deep sniff of intoxicating aromas revealed an exceptional wine. A wine that could not be dissected into multiple layers of aromatic attributes. Rather, a wine that developed into something unique that could only be described as a 1997 Beringer Reserve Cabernet. Outstanding, we both agreed.

It was a fine moment, as we finished the bottle along side our $5 Little Caesar pizza. We told each time we are grilling fillet Mignon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Radiance bound within waiting to be cast,

Revealing ageless secrets of the past,

Generations of silence like bars of a cell,

Race toward the glow and swell,


Transformed passion of a different sense,

Takes my mind off in the distance,

Paving the way of fond memories,

Flowing through my veins to all extremities,


The hand of an artist reveals to me,

Visions of lands only I can see,

When the silence of the spell is waived,

Will these memories be saved?


Lingering like a ghost, it wails,

Haunting me with its tales,

Never again to be seen by sight,

Only in the reflecting light.


by Bryan Bennington

The Red River


The beginning of something new

Awakened by a drop of dew

The hands from above

Transformed in Canaan for love


Infectious the red river flows

From the land of Bacchus

To the shores of Gaul, no land too small

Soon there will be plenty for all


Damned to the ones who choose

The price to pay for those that abuse

Fires illuminate the sky

Centuries past bye


Dare he, who goes to check on thee

The serpent’s tail lashes out freely

Mowed down by disease

A gravesite as far as the eye can see


Through the mist

A new future exists

Hand in hand to the vine we go

So the river of red may flow

By Bryan Bennington

pictures by Kristine Ellison
Baby Zin
Vineyards on Fire