- Rating: 94 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $100 or Free with purchase of a $100+ bottle
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
St Helena, CA 94574
You can read up on the background of Bevan Cellars and prior vintage tastings in in this article HERE. The first thing you may notice about this article is that I dropped the rating, compared to my last tasting here. The change is primarily due to the number and quality of the wines used for this tasting; they were not up to the standard that was set during my previous visit. We were also given the remnants of bottles opened the previous day to taste, rather than being able to taste fresh bottles. In a couple cases, the pour was smaller than other bottles because the amount available wasn’t enough. Make no mistake, these are wines of the highest quality, just not served in their best condition.
Although the wines had their flavors in well-rounded form thanks to being opened the day before, I think they also lost some of their intensity and precision because of that. I think my tasting group noticed that as well, since they ranked Bevan Cellars their least impressive wines of the day. In all fairness, we did have a rockstar lineup that day, but I can empathize with their viewpoint on the wines. It’s really too bad, because we hit it off with the co-owner of the winery (Victoria De Crescenzo) and she invited us to her new winery in Healdsburg, which we accepted and will be visiting on another trip.
I got word that the previous wine ambassador I had befriended and tasted with (Dan Walsh) had left his position at Bevan Cellars and is now the Hospitality Director at Knights Bridge Winery. This was the reason Victoria was conducting our tasting. If you plan to visit Bevan Cellars in the near future, you may want to confirm your tasting lineup before visiting to ensure they break out at least 3 of their Cabernets. But if you do get a good lineup, you are in for a great tasting…
Again, Bevan Cellars are for drinkers that really like rich, round texture and mouthfeel to their wines. Bevan does not rack their wines and blends all of the barrels together in a tank, then redistributes to each barrel, ensuring integration of flavors and texture early on. They ferment the free run and the press juice separately, then top off the free run juice barrels with the press juice during the fermentation to replace the angel’s share. Some years, they may choose not to use the press juice at all. They press the juice off the tank while it is still fermenting (anywhere from 8-10 brix of sugar left) and then barrel it while it is finishing the fermentation - most people wait until the fermentation finishes the sugar. They use a pulsar in tank too to pump gas from the bottom and break up the cap instead of pump over or punch downs (same as Quiceda Creek which is another fantastic winery). This really softens the tannins and allows them to create high tannin wines that have great mouthfeels in their youth.
To the wines!
- 2017 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay ($70)
- From a vineyard that is shaped like an inverted cone (the volcano collapsed on itself). The grape sizes are different in each cluster (like hens and chicks) as they produce this Chardonnay by combining a younger block and an older block. 100% new French oak and it is fairly obvious on the nose as there are notes of ripe yellow fruit, butter, cream, and vanilla. They produce the wine in a reductive style without much SO2, which is only possible in a very clean facility. The bottle should peak at 3 years of age. Rich, beautiful, but not as big as the Hudson Ranch. I think this is super enjoyable right now and doesn’t need the age if you don’t want to wait!
- 2017 Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir ($80)
- The blue and red fruit on the nose is so rich, integrated, and deep. On the palate, the depth is just remarkable with pretty red (cranberry, cherry) and black fruit, baking spice that integrates with the alcohol and medium(+) body. The tannins are medium(+), maybe high due to the amount of extraction, but are very fine grained. The concentration is striking, but the ripeness on the palate is toned back and is also covered a bit by the tannin. A very approachable, very rich Pinot that is for Cabernet-lovers, not for those that like Burgundian Pinots.
- 2016 Ontogeny ($95)
- Deep red/blue fruit and crushed candied blackberry with tight integration on the nose. On the palate, the acid is a little green and strong, the tannin is high but again fine-grained, and flavors are long and concentrated on the palate. This wine is the “bane of Russell’s existence” as there is so much information to digest to formulate this wine. This really shows his ability to blend and I hear the 2017 is even better with its large dose of Cabernet Franc (from the Sugarloaf blend that won’t be made that year since the 2017 Merlot was thrown out due to smoke taint). This wine is the first thing he blends, then he makes the Sugarloaf, Tench, EE, etc. That alone shows you how much this wine means to him.
- 2016 Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($195)
- The vineyard for this wine is RIGHT next to Screaming Eagle. 48 acres planted (55 acres total). The owners and Bevan Cellars formed a 25 year partnership where they manage the vineyard and Russell makes wine from it. They also sell some of the fruit to Thomas Rivers Brown and Phillipe Melka (two famous consulting winemakers), so you know it’s good fruit. The pronounced nose is generous, rich, and lively with its red/blue/black fruit. On the palate, it’s just as rich and generous but mainly red/black fruit with the acidity enhanced by the minerality of Petit Verdot splash in this wine. The body is a little leaner than Kapcsandy, but make no mistake this wine is top quality.
- 2015 Wildfoote Cabernet Sauvignon ($195)
- Pronounced red fruit with some candied red fruit in there as well. It reminds me of a sleeping giant, like many amazing wines that are closed in their youth, but smash their way onto the scene after a few years in hibernation. Though, as the most feminine of their Cabernets, it has an elegance, weight, and finish that is fierce that doesn’t rely on sheer intensity alone. I have a couple bottles of the 2016 vintage of this Stags Leap and hope it unveils itself in a few years to be a worthy rival to my Shafer Hillside Selects and Cliff Lede Poetry.
If you buy a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon, the tasting is free, which is why I highly recommend visiting if the bottle is not out of your price range. Think of it like paying for a tasting and buying an extremely good bottle of Cabernet for $100. Just be sure to confirm the wine lineup before visiting to confirm it has the varietals and values you want and you’ll come back a very happy person. Cheers!!
Rating: 94 out of 100