Beringer Vineyards has an incredible story. In 1868, Jacob Beringer traveled across the Atlantic from Germany and became enchanted by the Napa terroir. Hard to believe that this was three years following the end of the American Civil War and was the same year that Ulysses S. Grant was elected president of the United States. Seven years later, Jacob and his brother Frederick purchased 215 acres of land, and founded one of the first wineries in Napa Valley, as 1876 marked the first harvest for the Beringer brothers. Instead of closing its doors, during the Prohibition from 1920-1933, the winery continued to function as a winery under a federal exemption of making wine for religious purposes. Thank God this winery didn’t close down.
More than 50 years later Beringer hired Ed Sbragia as head winemaker, which changed the game and transformed Beringer into one of the premier Napa wineries. Sbragia was head winemaker on their 1986 Private Reserve Cabernet, which became Wine Spectator’s #1 wine of 1990. Since Sbragia was hired, huge quality improvements have been made at the winery. Currently, Beringer is known as one of the best producers of high end Cabernet and Chardonnay in Napa Valley. Beringer is the only winery, to my knowledge, to have a red and white wine be named #1 wine of the year from Wine Spectator.
The current release of both their Private Reserve Chardonnay and Private Reserve Cabernet were outrageously good and extracted styles of both varietals. The Chardonnays age incredibly well as I have recently also tried some of their older Private Reserve Chardonnays and was very impressed. A visit to the historic winery will not disappoint, as Beringer also pours some very excellent and hard to find single vineyard Cabernets. Here are some of the excellent wines from Beringer that I have recently sampled.
2012 Beringer 'Private Reserve' Chardonnay- Buttered toast and creme brûlée on the nose. Palate has banana, golden delicious and butter. Delicious and complex. -93
2007 Beringer 'Private Reserve' Chardonnay- Butterscotch and oak on the nose. Palate is unreal and has great viscosity. Butter, caramel, vanilla, shortbread and oak. Seamless. Unreal wine. -95
2004 Beringer 'Private Reserve' Chardonnay- Mushroom, oak and crème brulee on the nose. Palate is viscous. Almost botrytis. Pineapple, honey, golden delicious, crème brulee and vanilla on the palate. Delicious and complex. -95
2010 Beringer 'Knight’s Valley' Cabernet- Red bell pepper and spice cake on the herbaceous nose. Palate is filled with minerals and blackberry, anise and plum. Drink now.-91
2011 Beringer 'Quantum'- This is a blend of 71% Cabernet with the rest Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah, and Petite Verdot. Smells like mountain fruit with red bell pepper and blackberry. Palate has sage, dried herbs, red bell pepper, blackberry and red cherry with black olive. Slightly tannic but open style. Needs two plus years of cellaring. -91
2009 Beringer 'Private Reserve Cabernet'- Nose has creme de cassis and oak. Palate has anise, chocolate, plum and black cherry and creme de casis. Concentrated and rich. Hard not to drink now but this will age for many years. -95
2007 Beringer 'Chabot Vineyard' Cabernet- Plum and mocha with oak on the nose. Palate has ripe cherry, blackberry and creme de cassis. Delicious now. -93
2010 Beringer 'Bancroft Vineyard' Cabernet- Nose has anise and casis with oak. Palate has plum, cassis and anise. Tar and Welches grape juice. Unrestrained and needs 2 years to age. -91