- Rating: 95 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $40 for Public Tasting, $75 for Private Tasting
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: No for Public Tasting, Yes for Private Tasting
St Helena, CA 94574
You can read up on Beringer’s history and prior vintage tastings in this article HERE. As a Private Reserve member of Beringer, I try to get out to the winery once a year to taste the new vintage. And the wines made enough of an impact on me that I wanted to write a separate article to cover the 2015 vintage. This is not just because 2015 was a great vintage. 2015 was the first vintage fully produced by their new winemaker: Mark Beringer. After spending years honing his craft at Duckhorn, Mark came back home to take the reigns. And what a difference this has made on the wines Beringer producers…
If you are used to the big, structured, almost harsh renditions of Private Reserve that required 10-20 years of cellar aging before they were ready, you are in for one heck of a surprise. The new style being ushered in by Mark Beringer is all about approachability early in the life of the wines. And this is without taking anything good away from the wines (as demonstrated by James Suckling’s back-to-back 99 point ratings of the 2015 and 2016 Private Reserves). What this means is that all of their upper tier wines (e.g. the Private Reserves, Single Vineyard bottles, etc.) can now be enjoyed immediately upon release and they are really, really good. I think that this change is a win for consumers as people don’t have the patience or basement-space to age wines for 5-10 years before enjoying them.
You can really tell the difference comparing the 2013 Private Reserve against Mark’s 2015 Private Reserve. The 2013, rated 97 points by the Wine Advocate, has a huge amount of tannins that are not yet polished in year 6 and could probably age for 30-40 years. Robert Parker scores tend to emphasize ageability and intensity and that is what you see in this wine. The 2015 still has high tannins, but less overall and are much more polished than the 2013, even at age 4. The nose is also much more perfumed and seductive, begging you to taste what is in your glass. If you asked me which bottle I’d rather have in 20 years, I’m pretty sure it’d be the 2013. But if I had to choose a wine to drink tomorrow, it’s the 2015 by a long shot.
So pay attention and try some of the newer Beringer wines if you can. And if you are in the area, stop by the winery to try the amazing 2015 and 2016 vintages as both are arguably two of their greatest vintages in this millenium. Until then, enjoy the notes below.
- 2017 Private Reserve Chardonnay ($48)
- The fruit, butter, and nut are all very well balanced. The alcohol is high, but integrated and leaves you with a warm finish. The fruit is fresh and not baked/cooked which is nice and bright. A lighter/brighter style than past vintages that still has good presence and intensity.
- 2015 Bancroft Ranch (Howell Mountain) Merlot ($90)
- Very bright, pretty nose of crushed candied violet, rich blue fruit, and chocolate. The body could use some time to integrate a bit more (it’s lighter and rougher than it should be). I like how the extraction is tempered a bit, but still has a ton of personality. Give this 2-3 years and you’ll have a great Merlot for any occasion.
- 2015 St. Helena Home Vineyard ($150)
- Deeper red, blue, and black fruit on the nose. Also some crushed white rocks and candied cherry. Very sensual on the palate, though is a bit light on the mid-palate and could use some Merlot to fill that out. But once the wine ages and the tannins round out even more, this is going to be a real stunner.
- 2015 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($170)
- The tannins are harsher than I remember last year and the aromas are a little closed, likely meaning they decanted this bottle for less time than they did last time. Again, just means that even if a wine is ready sooner than past vintages, it doesn’t mean that you won’t need to decant a bit to get the bottle over the finish line!
- 2014 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($190)
- Even deeper red and black fruit on the nose than the 2015. The fruit and wood flavors are beautiful with the crushed rocks in there as well. Though the wine is still fruit driven and has tons of tannins that still need to age and round out. This needs more time than the 2015 to reach it’s destination, but it’s going to be a good one.
- 2015 Steinhauer Ranch Cabernet Franc ($125)
- Defined cheese rind, tertiary notes, and crush violets on the nose. On the palate, the fruit is present, but not as dominant as in the Cabernet Sauvignons. The balance between the earthiness and fruit this early in its life is crazy, though I bet the bottle was open overnight. The tannins are medium(+), but soft and well integrated. Probably the best drinking wine today at the tasting.
Rating: 95 out of 100