2010 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet – A Showstopper – “Greatest Since 2007”

“Perhaps the greatest Beringer Private Reserve since the 2007, 2005, 2002 and 2001” — RP

 

Back in the 1970s, California Cabernet – indeed the world of wine – was a very different beast. Winemakers were finding their way, vineyards were young, parcels had yet to be identified and professional wine critiquing was seemingly light years away. Even the great Oxford Companion to Wine was two decades from its first release.

But Beringer was there, securing Cabernet vines and experimenting with cuvees that would eventually establish benchmarks for an industry. Beringer’s first purchase from the old Lemmon Ranch in 1977 – a parcel which would eventually become the Chabot Vineyard – was an intense set of grapes by any standard. In the early days of Beringer, the Lemmon Ranch bottlings were 100% Cabernet, beauties in their own right.

In those days Myron Nightingale was still in charge, Ed Sbragia his assistant, and they knew they had something special on their hands. That first batch of Cabernet spent 24 months in French oak barrels and didn’t budge – it was as dark and brooding as ever. By 1981, time in bottle barely tamed it – it floored the judges at the Orange County Fair. They had most likely never encountered anything like it.

That limited batch would become the very first Beringer Private Reserve. By 1986, Beringer’s Private Reserve took the #1 spot in Wine Spectator. A legend was born. For 2010 Beringer once again topped the charts, “Greatest since 2007” according to Parker. And once again I’m very proud to announce this masterpiece and encourage readers to seek it out; the 2010 will make old bones as well as immediate friends.

2010 BeringerCabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve

The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve is built from completely different sources. Sixty-six percent came from the St. Helena Home Ranch, 18% from the Chabot Vineyard, and the rest from Beringer’s estates in St. Helena, Rutherford and Coombsville. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that came in at 14.6% natural alcohol with a pH of 3.8. Perhaps the greatest Beringer Private Reserve since the 2007, 2005, 2002 and 2001, the 2010 offers up notes of lead pencil shavings, creme de cassis, subtle smoke, wet rocks and background oak. Full-bodied, rich and impressive, it can be drunk now or cellared for two decades.

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Ridge Monte Bello – An American Premier Cru Classé

America’s Premier Cru Classé

 

My times spent tasting with Paul Draper are among the most memorable in a lifetime spent tasting the world’s finest wines. No matter how hectic his schedule, Paul always took the time to personally usher me through his top selections of any given vintage. He was always happy to open verticals of his most profound wines without blinking an eye.

And so it was one warm spring afternoon that I spent a few hours exploring multiple vintages of California’s Premier Cru Classé, the Ridge Monte Bello (unofficially classified to match the great Growths of Bordeaux by practically every professional critic this side of the pond). Beginning with the 1974, we would taste through multiple precious, perfect, unmatched Monte Bello’s, finishing off with the 1992, one of the last vintages Draper produced before a new team joined him in the cellars – as we all know, Draper would finally retire at the age of 80, a few years after this tasting.

There have been countless incredible bottlings from the Monte Bello vineyard, first planted in 1885 by Osea Perrone, a San Francisco doctor, originally from northern Italy. Much like other California Heritage sites, this special location was terraced without the assistance of modern-day machinery, the rugged, jagged Santa Cruz hillsides a formidable foe.

And we all know the famous tale of the Judgement of Paris, where the ’71 Monte Bello toppled all others; California Cabernets and top Cru Classé Bordeaux alike. Those were Draper’s early years – he arrived in 1969 – and the work he performed with this site is historical. Today, Draper’s legacy is in the hands of Winemaker Eric Baugher, Ridge COO since 2016 and Monte Bello winemaker since 2004.

I recently tasted the 2014 and can tell you that if you’re a true, die-hard fan, one taste is all you’ll need – you’ll know immediately why Baugher is in charge. You should seek out this monumental effort if you’re a Monte Bello lover. It’ll make the same old bones as that 1974 and 1992 I enjoyed back on that awesome spring afternoon.

Lail Vineyards – A TRUE American Tale!

Lail House

Having been in the biz this long, I’m often guilty of wandering back to Europe when writing about California wines – I’ve even been called out on it…

But this is a family’s story so deeply rooted in the vinous fabric of America that even I can’t think of anywhere else but Napa when sharing their story. Follow me now; this one has a lot of forks in the road…

It all began in the late 19th century when Robin Lail’s Great Grand-Uncle Gustav Niebaum (ya’ the one and only!) built Inglenook Vineyards – talk about an American icon. By the turn of the 20th century, American wine had no rival. Niebaum’s Inglenook passed down to his Great-Nephew, John Daniel Jr. in 1936 after Prohibition, and Daniel Jr. would be the catalyst for bringing many of Niebaum’s dreams to life.

Daniel Jr., along with Robert Mondavi, made the Napa Valley appellation a reality. The sale of Inglenook in the 1960s made history, as it signified a family’s legacy in the Napa Valley.

Enter Robin Lail – John Daniel Jr.’s daughter. She inherited the Napanook Vineyard (again, ya’ the one and only!) and, after a brief hiatus, “went on to co-found Dominus in 1982 with her sister Marcia Smith and the brilliant winemaker Christian Moueix”.

Pride of ownership beckoned (obviously) and after a successful run with Bill Harlan, Robin sold her portion of Dominus and Merryvale, hooked up with rock-star wine-maker Philippe Melka in 1998, and gave the world Lail Vineyards!Lail Logo

 

Desparada Wines of Paso Robles – The Most Important Winery In The Most Important Wine Region In California

                     Just a Few of Vailia’s Must-Haves – Desparada Wines

 

Centered at the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles has been one of my favorite hunting grounds for unique, thoroughly one-of-a-kind wines for years. It’s where I first discovered the Rhone Ranger glories of L’Aventure, and stumbled upon the mind-bending Syrahs grown in the western reaches of Paso Robles by Justin Smith of Saxum. Also home to some of the most prized bottlings in my personal collection – Linne Calodo – Paso Robles is one wine region I simply cannot visit often enough.

In the early days, the A-listers could be counted on a few fingers, to include the aforementioned and – of course – the ethereal Zins of Turley. That’s all changed though, with a new group of settlers finding their way to Paso Robles over the past decade, lured to the gentle rolling hills of this chaparral environment. Vineyard owners seem to be everywhere these days – eager to rent their homes when you come to town – thanks to the need for high quality grapes by some big name producers here.

But I’ve fallen in love with the wines of a winery I hope remains as boutique and under the radar as they’ve been for years. That winery is Desparada, and its owner Vailia is among my top 5 – make that 3 – very favorite people in the wine business. My wife and I recently paid a visit to Paso Robles, and our two hours in the cellar with Vailia were unforgettable.

The first thing you notice about Vailia is that smile. It’s real; never departing from her face, it reaches all the way to her eyes. That smile is as real as the wines she makes, wines that now fill at least 50% of our small 15 case “cellar” at home. Wines that speak of Vailia equally as much as Paso Robles and the single vineyards she sources from. Wines that perfectly speak of varietal – she works with so many, so unique – and, just as important, wines that allow each unique vintage to share their story. Vailia is a tremendous winemaker. As such, she thoroughly understands and respects her role as steward.

Working with some of Paso Robles’ great single vineyards and perfectly tended vineyards, Vailia has shown me bottles of shockingly delicious blends spanning multiple vintages. My first experience has turned into a vertical of “Sackcloth & Ashes”, a multi-site, multi-varietal blend which I first encountered with the 2012 vintage. Now into my fourth vintage, I will attest that this striking wine – Cabernet, Petit Sirah, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec; hailing from the Happy Canyon, Coghlan, Roadrunner, Santa Barbara Highlands and Vogelzang vineyards – is one of the most profound of its type; worth 2-3 times what we pay.

Then there’s the vertical of “Borderlands” I cannot keep my hands off. Another stunning blend – this time equal parts Cab, Cab Franc, Grenache and Syrah – from the Coghlan, Santa Barbara Highlands, Spanish Springs and White Haw vineyards, it is so immensely irresistible that I’ve asked my wife to hide two bottles of each vintage from me. How Vailia bottles such deeply soulful wines at these earthbound prices is one of life’s great mysteries.

But there’s so much more – so VERY much more. So many shockingly delicious versions of Sauvignon Blanc; one that I’ve “blind” tasted my Francophile buddies on and convinced them it was La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (go ahead, look up the price difference). Amphorae fermented and aged wines of every type and description. Barrel fermented, stainless fermented wines based on the same varietal – just so Vailia can follow their evolution. Italian varietals, Spanish varietals – that truly and completely honor their native land while reflecting Paso Robles AND Vailia.

I’ll close now – probably said too much already (just can’t keep a secret) – by encouraging you to (at the very least) sign up for the

Desparada newsletter

the wines will quite possibly change your outlook…

 

 

Lail Vineyards – A TRUE American Tale!

Lail House

Having been in the biz this long, I’m often guilty of wandering back to Europe when writing about California wines – I’ve even been called out on it…

But this is a family’s story so deeply rooted in the vinous fabric of America that even I can’t think of anywhere else but Napa when sharing their story. Follow me now; this one has a lot of forks in the road…

It all began in the late 19th century when Robin Lail’s Great Grand-Uncle Gustav Niebaum (ya’ the one and only!) built Inglenook Vineyards – talk about an American icon. By the turn of the 20th century, American wine had no rival. Niebaum’s Inglenook passed down to his Great-Nephew, John Daniel Jr. in 1936 after Prohibition, and Daniel Jr. would be the catalyst for bringing many of Niebaum’s dreams to life.

Daniel Jr., along with Robert Mondavi, made the Napa Valley appellation a reality. The sale of Inglenook in the 1960s made history, as it signified a family’s legacy in the Napa Valley.

Enter Robin Lail – John Daniel Jr.’s daughter. She inherited the Napanook Vineyard (again, ya’ the one and only!) and, after a brief hiatus, “went on to co-found Dominus in 1982 with her sister Marcia Smith and the brilliant winemaker Christian Moueix”.

Pride of ownership beckoned (obviously) and after a successful run with Bill Harlan, Robin sold her portion of Dominus and Merryvale, hooked up with rock-star wine-maker Philippe Melka in 1998, and gave the world Lail Vineyards!Lail Logo

 

Turley “The Label” Cabernet 2011 ~ The Zin Man “Actually Likes It”!


Christopher’s Wine Country Connection
Your Direct Source to Exclusive Offers from Wine Country


2011 TURLEY “The Label”Turley The Label

Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena
(92 points): Outstanding; Tanzer

~ “Larry Turley bought this property next to his winery north of St. Helena in 2009 and promptly pulled out the merlot and replanted it to cabernet sauvignon

~ “Aged in one-third new oak, vs. 20% for the zinfandels here; tasted from tank a day or two prior to bottling…

~ “Good full red.  Nice lift to the aromas and flavors of currant and pepper.  Sweet, supple and scented, in a gentle, seamless style.  An herbal quality contributes to the wine’s juicy character and light touch.  Finishes seamless and persistent, with noteworthy purity of flavor.  ‘I actually like it,’ says zin man Turley.”
(92 points) ~ Tanzer

~ The above referenced notes come to us via Tanzer and indicate a wine in keeping with the long-standing reputation of Turley; a wine which true enthusiasts should be buying before it’s gone!

2011 “The Label” Cabernet

Turley Wine Cellars, St. Helena

Retails at:  $45.00/btl

Your Price: $42.99/btl


2011 TURLEY “The Label”

Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena


Larry Turley

Larry Turley (left) & Ehren Jordan

2011 marks the 2nd release of “The Label” Cabernet from legendary producer Turley Cellars. This surprisingly impressive Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from magnificent 20+ year old vines in a single, organically-farmed vineyard that recently became part of the Turley Estate in St Helena.

The wine undergoes aging in 100% French oak (33% new), which imparts a nicely integrated seamlessness and toasty spice. It’s packed full of ripe black and blue fruits with pretty floral notes. Balanced and inviting,

“The Label” represents a refreshing take on Napa Cabernet and deftly balances New World charm with Old World refinement.

If you’ve ever wondered just how good the wines of Turley can be, I strongly recommend securing a case of this limited Cabernet for your wine collection.

To order simply call my toll free number: 866-620-4476

(if your account is already established you may order by replying to this email)

All the best in wine & life,
Christopher
Wine Country Connection
866-620-4476

Fortune 1621 Cabernet 2011 ~ Brian Mox brings his Lewis Cellars moxie to Oakville

Christopher’s Wine Country Connection

Your Direct Source to Exclusive Offers from Wine Country

2011 Fortune 1621
Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonFortune 1621

*Crafted by Brian Mox. (Former winemaker at LEWIS Cellars!)

*Previous Vintage Earned “Double Gold” in SF Chronicle Competition (60 Professional Judges!)

*At $26.99 with Shipping Included, you’ll think you’re drinking a $50 Napa Valley Cab! Yes, it’s that good….

*Without a doubt, the newly released Fortune 1621 is one of the best Cabs under $30 that we’ve seen all year!

2011 Fortune 1621 Napa Valley Cabernet

Retails at: $28-$30/btl
Your Price: $26.99/btl +
Ground Shipping Included on Case Purchases

“Seductive aromas of ripe blackberries, cassis and dried violets. Stunning depth and focus, usually not found in Cabernet anywhere near this price point. Layers of ripe black fruits, chocolate, black cherry, espresso and caramel are complemented by the finely intertwined soft velvety tannins.”
93 points, WCC

~Fortune 1621 by Darms Lane~
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the secrets to our success in sourcing some of THE highest quality wines and greatest values in all of Wine Country is that we follow the greatest winemakers in the region….

BRIAN MOX was not only the inaugural winemaker at LAIRD ESTATE, he also worked alongside industry leader/winemaker Tony Soter at ETUDE WINERY.

More importantly, Brian was the full time winemaker at LEWIS CELLARS. Lewis’s Reserve Cab was just featured as the #9 Wine in the World on the Wine Spectator top 100.

With Lewis Cabs retailing in the $90-$300/btl range, the new Fortune 1621 by Darms Lane is a no brainer at $26.99/btl (including shipping).

This is another one of those wines that will have your friends and family asking, “Where in the world did you find this amazing wine!?”

$hipping Note – We offer an option of using 15 bottle cases which are not only better insulated, but ship for the same cost as 12 bottle cases. This reduces your per-bottle shipping cost by about 20%.

If your account is set up, hit reply and indicate your desired order.

Or contact our office to establish an account and place your order:
(866) 620-4476

All the best in wine & life,
Christopher

Wine Country Connection
cepagenoir@gmail.com