Deep ruby color; plum, leather, redcurrant on the nose; black cherry, blackberry, plum, toasty oak, caramel on the palate.
Dry; significant tannins, but decanting nicely tames them; 100% cabernet sauvignon from various Napa vineyards. Oak notes come from malolactic fermentation in 60-gallon barrels, followed by 15 months of aging in American, French, and Hungarian oak, 25% new. This vintage is best remembered for the 6.0 earthquake that shook Napa on August 24 just as crush began, but it also was a drought-break year that produced small, flavor-packed berries, which reflects in this bottle.
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 bring about 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.
In 1940, Beaulieu Vineyard 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 in due time, 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—two years 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, and especially in their higher-end efforts.
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, but for now enjoy this effort.
Beaulieu Vineyards BV Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is delicious cab. Silky tannins present after decanting, excellent fruit, an overall winner for the price from an historic maker. Pair with grilled beef, ribs, lamb, pork, roast chicken, hamburger, pasta with tomato sauces, flavored cheese. $25-30