Mark Beringer, great-great-grandson of Beringer Vineyards’ founding brother Jacob Beringer, was immersed in wine from the moment he was born in the heart of the Napa Valley.
As the direct descendant to Beringer’s first winemaker and one of the most iconic family names in Napa Valley wine history, he knew from a young age that he would follow in the footsteps of his ancestors. As a young man he spent many hours working in his family’s wine store in St. Helena, expanding his knowledge of wine as well as gaining an appreciation for wines outside of the famous region he has always called home.
And Mark has come to KL to officiate Beringer Wines and Trip Advisor’s New Campaign, promoting the planning of trips over a glass of Beringer, taking away the grit from travel planning and making it a much more communal and enjoyable activity around friends and family. In fact, you can buy this adorable Beringer Wine package in the retail stores!
Inside, you’ll find two Beringer Cabernet Sauvignons, a travel planner and a travel adapter.
Mark kindly showed us a selected symphony of wines out of the extensive Beringer collection and I must say, the richness and layers these wines exhibited truly pays homage towards this oldest continuous wine maker in the Napa Valley. They were producing wine even throughout the infamous US prohibition era and have continued to do so for the past 141 consecutive years. An amazing feat indeed and we were so fortunate to fully immerse ourselves in experiencing the literal fruits of their labour.
I’ll build the list up. Gonna begin from my least favourite and end with what I thought was the absolute best. Just note that wine tasting is super subjective, I may love something but you may feel otherwise, so don’t be deterred to try any of the wine on the list regardless of which rank I placed them in. Honestly, almost all Beringer wines taste pretty great and are extremely affordable.
Beringer Wine Review #1: 2013 CABERNET SAUVIGNON KNIGHTS VALLEY
Beringer Vineyards has owned and farmed its Knights Valley vineyards since the mid – 1960’s, when the Beringer fam ily recognized that the cobbled alluvial soils were a great place to grow high quali ty wine grapes. The Knights Valley designation was first used on a Beringer label in 1974. Beringer was instrumental in garnering official recognition for the area in 1983 as a premier wine growing region in the form of its own American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation.
VINTAGE & VINEYARDS
The 2013 vintage began with a warm, dry spring and relatively early bud break. Summer was notably consistent with even, warm temperatures throughout. Knights Valley often sees greater fluctuation in temperature than Napa Valley, with intensely warm days that cool off dramatically in the evening. The 2013 growing season was very even throughout, and continued well into October, allowing for excellent ripeness, phenolic and flavor development in the grapes. Overall, it was a high quality crop that was above average in quantity.
Located 17 miles northwest of the winery, Knights Valley vineyard is approximately 600 acres, and has rocky, welldrained soils that are perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Grapes for the 2012 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested between September 16th and October 22nd.
To maintain the unique characteristics of the different lots from varying areas of the vineyard, Chief Winemaker Laurie Hook monitored each of the lots carefully through vinification and aging. Extended maceration created larger tannins to enhance the lush mouthfeel of the blend and extracted a maximum of color, aromas and flavors. The wines were then aged in small French Nevers oak barrels (23% new) for fourteen months and underwent malolactic fermentation for further development of texture and mouthfeel. Laurie blended in a portion of Cabernet Franc for aromatics and length in the finish and a touch of Merlot to add texture and plush tannins.
The 2013 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of ripe black fruit, mocha, dried herbs and licorice. Opulent but structured, this versatile wine has supple blue and black fruit notes accented by dark chocolate, roasted coffee and a silky, lingering finish.
Beringer Wine Review #2: 2013 FOUNDER’S ESTATE MERLOT
Beringer Founders’ Estate Merlot was chosen from vineyards in Central California along with select vineyards on the North Coast. The California coast offers vineyards full of grapes that are cooled by maritime influence, while mountain vineyards in the interior produce grapes of great intensity and flavor. The grapes picked reflect the diverse microclimates of each area producing a wonderful depth of flavor, elegance and intensity.
The Beringer winemaking team worked closely with the viticulture department to determine when each vineyard reached full maturity. Small amounts of Petite Sirah and Syrah were added for complexity and depth of flavors. Half of the wine was aged in seasoned French, American and Hungarian oak to add toastiness and hints of brown spice to the final blend.
The Beringer Founders’ Estate Merlot is approachable and delicious. Hints of plum and brown spice on the nose compliment the boysenberry, blackberry and blueberry finish on the palate. It’s well-balanced, soft tannins make this wine a perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods, such as grilled meats or hearty vegetable dishes.
Beringer Wine Review #3: 2014 NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY
Beringer’s Napa Valley Chardonnay is a vibrant expression of this beautiful varietal and the depth and complexity of flavor it can exhibit. Winemaker Laurie Hook chooses complementary lots from AVAs in the cool southern end of the valley to craft a wine that is the quintessential expression of Napa Valley terroir.
VINTAGE & VINEYARDS
Despite numerous challenges including a draught in California and the Napa Valley earthquake, the 2014 vintage still came in under ideal harvest weather and delivered an abundant crop. A dry winter was followed by heavy rains in early spring which replenished the vines as they went into bud break. Weather was warm throughout late spring and summer which allowed for great development in the grapes. Harvest began in August, and finished two weeks early with a crop of nice quality and quantity overall.
Beringer’s Chardonnay vineyards span several sub-appellations in southern Napa Valley, where fog from the San Pablo Bay works its way north most afternoons during the growing season, cooling the vineyards and allowing for a longer maturation period. The majority of the blend comes from our Big Ranch and Stanly vineyards, located on the valley floor. These vineyards produce Chardonnays with fine fruit flavors and crisp natural acidity.
The grapes for this wine were picked, quickly brought to the winery and sent directly to press with no crushing. Winemaker Laurie Hook fermented and aged 74% of the juice in small French oak barrels (4% new) for nine months. The remainder fermented and aged in small stainless steel tanks. Laurie chose to put 60% of the wine through malolactic fermentation to balance the wine’s bright fruit and acidity with a lush, creamy mouthfeel.
Refreshing, crisp citrus notes accentuate this lively Chardonnay. A medium, rounded mouthfeel is highlighted with flavors of lemon merengue and balanced acidity.
Beringer Wine Review #4: 2014 PRIVATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY NAPA VALLEY
VINTAGE & VINEYARDS
The 2014 winter was one of the driest on record in California. Fortunately, heavy rains in early Spring gave the vines some important moisture right before budbreak. A warm spring followed, and Harvest began in early August. Though the drought year brought quite a few challenges, the fruit was largely deemed to be of excellent quality and structure. Grapes for the 2014 Private Reserve Chardonnay were harvested between September 9th and 16th.
Beringer’s northernmost Chardonnay vineyard and the primary source of the 2014 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Gamble Ranch is located near the town of Yountville, in the Oakville AVA, where daytime temperatures slowly climb as the cooling morning fog recedes south to San Pablo Bay. This significant diurnal shift allows the grapes to maintain their acidity, which is essential to balancing the ripe, rich flavors they develop during warm afternoons.
Each Chardonnay lot was kept separate throughout the aging process. After sending the fruit directly to press the juice is fermented in French oak barrels (78 percent new) to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, the most expressive lots are chosen and blended to create a richly layered wine with aromas of crème brulee and rich citrus and fruit flavors.
The Private Reserve Chardonnay opens with bright aromas of fresh stone fruit, pineapple, citrus and toasted spiced almonds. The aromas ring true and are complemented by flavors of ripe tropical fruit and rich crème brulee. The mouthfeel is generous and graciously rounded out by balanced acidity and a lengthy, elegant finish.
Beringer Wine Review #5: 2012 PRIVATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON
With each vintage of the acclaimed Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Beringer Winemaker Laurie Hook chooses the best lots from our reserve vineyards in the Napa Valley, each of which demonstrate remarkable expression of terroir. Beringer’s extraordinary collection of vineyards is the result of a significant and decades-long relationship between viticulture and winemaking.
VINTAGE & VINEYARDS
The 2012 vintage began with textbook conditions that continued through much of Harvest. Spring bud break was ideal with steady flowering and even fruit set. A lengthy stretch of warm days and cool nights during the summer months allowed for optimal ripeness to develop in the grapes and an exceptional quality overall. Steinhauer vineyard provides the foundation (30%) for the 2012 blend, which has been part of the Private Reserve blend since 1993. A significant portion (17%) comes from Bancroft Ranch atop Howell Mountain as well, and another portion (17%) comes from the St. Helena Home vineyard, which was part of the original acreage that founders Jacob and Frederick Beringer purchased in 1875 with the Beringer estate. Laurie also chose some select lots from the Rutherford appellation to include in the 2012 blend, as she particularly liked the broad, dense and classic Cabernet characteristics that appellation is known for. Each lot is closely watched during the ripening period to determine ideal pick time. Grapes for the 2012 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested between September 25th and October 27th.
The Beringer reserve vineyards offer Cabernet Sauvignon of such quality that a minimalist approach to winemaking has long defined this special blend. Each vineyard is vinified separately and monitored carefully by Laurie, from the moment the fruit comes into the winery at Harvest. She uses tailored pump-over techniques for optimal extraction, and ages the wines in hand-selected, custom-toasted barrels of new French Nevers oak (95% new). Each lot was aged for 18 months before selection of the final blend, to allow each vineyard to express the depth of its unique terroir.
LAURIE’S TASTING NOTES
The 2012 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has complex layers of black fruit and notes of cocoa powder, graphite and light smoky oak. Notes of bittersweet chocolate and blackberry pastry complement.
Beringer Wine Review #6: 2013 FOUNDER’S ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC
Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc was crafted from select vineyards on the Central Coast and the California Delta. The geographic differences between the two regions bring unique flavors and character that make the Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc an immediately appealing wine.
WINE MAKING NOTES
The Beringer winemaking team worked with the viticulture department to determine when each vineyard reached full maturity. Once fully ripened and picked, the Sauvignon Blanc was cool fermented in 100 percent stainless steel to enhance the freshness of the juice and protect the bright aromas and crisp acidity.
Our winemakers take great care to maintain this varietal’s bright fruit characteristics. The Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc has a wonderfully refreshing grapefruit flavor that is enhanced with intense citrus, ripe stone fruit and white fig. The wine finishes with a clean grassy note and crisp acidity making it a perfect match with grilled fish.
Wanna find out more about Napa Valley wines? Check out what Wine Connoisseur Samuel Stephens has to say about Napa Valley wines in his fascinating interview.