Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016

Deep ruby-purple color; redcurrant, blackcurrant, black cherry, plum, pine on the nose; redcurrant, blackcurrant tang, black cherry, raspberry, vanilla, mocha, menthol on the palate.

Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016

Dry; silky but significant tannins; bright acidity. Benefits from decanting. Plush, rich, opulent, fruit forward. Oak, vanilla. Blend of 78% cabernet sauvignon, 7% syrah, 6% petite sirah, 4% touriga nacional, 3% malbec, 2% others sourced from Napa’s Rutherford, Calistoga, and St. Helena appellations. Aged in French, American, European oak (30% new) for 15 months; 14.8% ABV.

The Beaulieu (beau lieu—“beautiful place”) Vineyard traces roots back more than a century when, in 1900, Georges de Latour’s wife Fernande first looked upon their original Rutherford vineyard. De Latour imported phylloxera-resistant rootstock from Europe to the recently-ravaged fledgling California wine industry. When prohibition shut down many wineries, Beaulieu Vineyard increased its business by selling sacramental wine to the Catholic Church.

After Prohibition repeal in 1933, Georges de Latour began research and innovation that would produce his Rutherford Estate’s finest expression. In 1938, he traveled to France and met André Tchelistcheff, famed viticulturist and enologist who instituted the philosophy of continuous innovation in vineyard and winery. When Tchelistcheff joined Beaulieu and tasted the de Latour family’s private wine—what they called “Private Reserve”—from the 1936 vintage—he insisted it be bottled and sold as the winery’s flagship offering.

André Tchelistcheff

In 1940, Beaulieu Vineyard—identified as “BV” on the label, in addition to the full name—released the first vintage of Private Reserve and named it for the founder. Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon became Napa Valley’s first cult cabernet. Tchelistcheff became the region’s first superstar winemaker, too.

The international conglomerate Heublein Inc. purchased BV in 1969. RJR Nabisco acquired Heublein, then sold to Grand Metropolitan in 1987. Grand Metropolitan became Diageo in 1997 through a merger with Guiness. In 2016—one year after this vintage—Diageo sold Beaulieu Vineyard to Australian wine giant Treasury Wine Estates. The parade of owners has put strains on the winery’s vision and values, but the original Rutherford-Napa vineyards continue to deliver exceptional fruit that reflect in this bottle.

Winemaker Jeffrey Stambor

Amid the ownership turbulence, winemaker Jeffrey Stambor ably carried on the Georges de Latour and Tchelistcheff legacy, also working with “flying winemaker” Michel Rolland. In July 2017, Stambor announced he was leaving BV after almost three decades to form Jeffrey Stambor Wine Consulting. We shall see what lies in Beaulieu’s future with new winemaker Trevor Durling, but for now enjoy this Stambor effort.

Of this his last offering, Stambor notes on the website: “For more than a century our Cabernet Sauvignon has defined the unique character of Napa Valley. I’ve had the honor for more than 20 years to carry on this tradition. I am pleased to off this elegant and balanced wine, which expresses velvety layers of blackberry, ripe plum and chocolate.”

Beaulieu Vineyard BV Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is serious and impressive cab. Tamed tannins present after decanting. Vivid, powerful, assertive Rutherford-Napa fruit. Another overall winner for the price from an historic winery, even if it has a recently choppy history. Pair with grilled beef; ribs; lamb; pork, including sausage; roast and barbecue chicken; hamburgers and sliders; pasta with tomato sauces; flavored cheese. $25-33

BV Wines website

Beaulieu Vineyards tasting room
Beaulieu Vineyards vintage truck
BV webpage salute to Rutherford
Early photo of BV execs and vineyard on webpage