Featured User: Bill Bender

Bill is a trial attorney of 25 years in San Diego and has been actively involved in wine for 20 years, compiling in excess of 3000 bottles. He is the managing partner of Bender & Gritz, a 10-attorney firm located downtown. He lives in a 65 year old home that has been designated as a historical architectural landmark in the La Playa area of Pt. Loma with his teenage daughters, Bailey (18) and Riley (15). Delectable: What sparked your passion for wine? Bill: On my college roommate’s 21st birthday in 1987 his dad took us to a fancy restaurant called Elario’s in La Jolla. It was one of those places where they light dishes on fire next to your table and sweep crumbs away from the table as soon as they appear. Until then my exposure to wine had been limited to a warm glass in a plastic cup at weddings or a cheap bottle from the grocery store to pair with spaghetti on a Blockbuster and chill date. Well, his dad ordered a bottle from this huge list and when I tried it I was absolutely blown away. I mean I was totally thunderstruck. It was a 1959 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. I remember it vividly and I made a strong mental note of it. I told myself I needed to drink more wines like that. I’ve never had another taste of the ’59 Lafite but I can say that it was a clear epiphany wine for me and it started me on this path. D: What wine region are you wild about right now? B: It may not be as eclectic or hip as Jura or Bugey but I’m all in on Burgundy. I must admit that 15 years ago I just didn’t get it. I had the belief that the Burgs I was exposed to were uninspiring, thin and just not worth the price tag. Prices are still an issue, but I’ve come full circle on the wines. A big part of that is the evolution of my palate and substantial exposure to some of the best wines that the region has to offer. If I had to select 2 desert island wines to take with me if I were stranded—one white and one red—they would be Raveneau and Rousseau, without question. D: What is the most unusual wine you’ve ever tried? B: A couple years ago my business partner returned from a trip to Croatia with a bottle that was encrusted with barnacles, coral, shells and sediment because it had been submerged in the Adriatic ocean for 2 years. The bottles are encased in clay amphoras and then placed in underwater cages before being retrieved, traditionally cellared and put through a desalinization process. I thought it was a cool presentation and story but I was suspect on the wine. Well, I just had a bottle a few weeks ago and it was outstanding. The wine was a 2012 Navis Mysterium, a wine made from the Croatian grape Plavac Mali, which is in the same ‘bloodline’ as Zinfandel or Primitivo. I like the fact that it was unusual and good vs just unusual. D: What are some tips for aspiring connoisseurs? B: I’d give the same advice to new wine drinkers that I give my daughters. Be yourself. Don’t follow the crowd or chase scores. Be open to trying everything but know yourself and be confident in declaring what wines you enjoy best. In the early 90’s every male in Southern California was downing gin martinis and smoking imported cigars, so I did too. I was trying to fit in, but I absolutely hated the taste and the after effects of both. Interestingly, that is also around the time that I passed the bar, started practicing law and drinking finer wines. I haven’t had a straight gin martini since. I regret to say that I have still had a few more cigars over the years… D: What is your golden rule for wine? B: Don’t wait for just the right occasion to open a special bottle. All too often I see people holding on to specific bottles with the intent to open them at some landmark event like a wedding or birthday. Live in the now, life is short. Today is always the right time to drink something special. D: If you were a wine, what wine would you be? B: I like to think that I am a semi-mature Barolo. I have a bold and brash side, but once you get to know me you find out that I have a lot of soft edges and more layers than you expected.

Philip Togni Vineyard

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This is undoubtedly next level but still in its larval stage. The youngest Togni I’ve opened and I consumed it solo over 2 days of the weekend. Much more expressive on day 2. Black cherry, cacao and saddle leather are there but it is reluctant right now. I’m not a score guy but I believe AG or RP gave this 100 points. Hold for a minimum of 10 years if you have the patience and space. Don’t get me wrong it is very good, it just hasn’t developed yet in to what makes his wines so damn special. — 2 years ago

Bill, Paul and 64 others liked this
Bill Bender

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Keeping it real @Joe Lucca with my Target single man holiday home package
Bill Bender

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Hahahaha @Norman Gennaro I get that
P A

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@Bill Bender Bill great feature article on you and as always I enjoy your reviews Cheers from Canada 🇺🇸🇨🇦

Bernard Boisson-Vadot

Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2014

Laser focused is an overused identifier but this wine is laser focused AF. Clean fresh flowers, lychee, wet gravel. Love it. — a year ago

Michael, Eric and 40 others liked this
Bill Bender

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Hahaha @Eric Shanks should I ™️ it?
Eric Shanks

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You’d sell millions of T shirts.
John Van Trijp

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@Bill Bender 2014 White Burgs are soooo good

Lucy Margaux Vineyards

Petillant Natural Blanc de Noir 2016

This was an extremely cool wine and new to me. A “raw” organic wine that is hand harvested with no fining or filtration. Delicious and unique. There were still bits of grape floating in the bottle. I feel like I could have killed a bottle of this on my own if given the chance. — 2 years ago

romo Steve Anderson
with romo and Steve
Steve, Daniel and 42 others liked this
Paul T- Huntington Beach

Paul T- Huntington Beach

Bits of grapes or toe jam?
Bill Bender

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I’m really hoping it was toe jam free @Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher
romo

romo

Awesome stuff.

Louis Roederer

Cristal Brut Champagne Chardonnay Pinot Noir Blend 1999

Great nose of brioche and honeysuckle. An extremely smooth, impeccably balanced and finessed bubbly. Perhaps not as nuanced as Krug or Salon but so fresh, clean and vibrant. Nutty/almond and tart apple. — 2 years ago

Bill, Ellen and 61 others liked this

Nine Suns

Napa Valley Red Blend 2011

Another generous gift from @Martin G Rivard and it blows away any ‘11 I’ve had. Polished silk and length to admire and covet. Delicious and complex. — a year ago

Bill, Eric and 45 others liked this
Mike R

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Oh yeah
Jody Scharf

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Bill what's your address. I have a bottle of Miller lite I want to send you. Vintage 2008.
Bill Bender

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Bottle or can @Jody Scharf ?

Montagu

The Baron Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

@Shay Aldriedge sent me this about a year or so ago and I opened on Christmas Eve. Decanted 4 hours at room temp and chilled at cellar temp for 20 minutes. This was killer! Crushed rock, lots of graphite, cassis all combine to create an incredibly supple, lush young wine. Thank you @Shay Aldriedge for opening my eyes to this great value producer. — 2 years ago

Bill, Shay and 49 others liked this
Tom Casagrande

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@Bill Bender - Nice to see your profile in Featured Users. From a fellow member of The Bar.
Bill Bender

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Thanks @Tom Casagrande what city are you in?
Tom Casagrande

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@Bill Bender - DC area. I’m one of those lazy government workers that Trump thinks don’t don’t deserve a cost-of-living adjustment this year.🤷🏼‍♂️

Emmitt-Scorsone Wines

Domenica Amato Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay 2016

Most of you know the Bacigalupi vineyard was one of the fruit sources of the ‘73 Montelena Chardonnay that kicked ass at the ‘76 Paris Tasting....but this sensational treat from @Martin G Rivard is my first exposure to this winery. Astonishing poise and balance, toasted oak, citrus flowers. Legitimate gravitas. It’s good to have cool, generous friends. My sincere thanks Martin. — 2 years ago

Jason, Eric and 54 others liked this
Jody Scharf

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Didn't know that. The only thing I knew in 73 was the Mets w,rrl
Jody Scharf

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*were in the world series p