Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Deep ruby color; black cherry, fig, blackcurrant, raspberry, dried herbs, lavender on the nose; black cherry, blackcurrant, black olive, raspberry, plum, mocha, oak, cedar on the palate.

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Dry; rich with tight focus on dark fruits. Nicely layered through extended finish. Moderate tannins with balancing acidity; decanting smoothed out and integrated flavors compared to initial tastes as pop-and-pour. Vivid dark fruits dominate from initial attack through the finish. Decanting brought out more blackcurrant on the finish; 14.8% ABV.

Beringer says this is Bordeaux blend, but cabernet sauvignon is clearly the lead grape. There may be some cabernet franc, merlot, and petit verdot, but Beringer does not give percentages on its website. The barrel program involved French wood, 27% new, for 20 months and full malolactic fermentation. The 2017 vintage delivered both challenges and quality. Abundant winter and spring rains engendered vigor in the vines. A freak June hail storm caused isolated damage and lowered yields. The summer provided three heat events, on as late as Labor Day, but cool weather followed and allowed the grapes to recover. Late-ripening grapes hung on the vine well into October.

Beringer prides itself on being California’s oldest continually operating winery. It began in 1875 when Jacob Beringer and his brother Frederick purchased land and became one of the first Napa Valley wineries. Beringer survived Prohibition by making sacramental wines for churches. At end of Prohibition, Beringer became the first winery to offer public tours, starting the Napa Valley tourism era.

The original “Old Winery” at Beringer

In 1967, the 91-year-old Beringer Winery received State Historical Landmark designation. Five years later, the Rhine House on the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990, The Wine Spectator named Beginger’s cab the wine of the year, and six years later, a Beringer chardonnay took the same honor. Beringer is the only wine maker to have both a red and white named The Wine Spectator’s wine of the year.

Mark Beringer, the great-great-grandson of founding brother Jacob Beringer, is the winemaker. Mark earned a degree in enology at California State University–Fresno, then started his career at Benziger. Later, he joined Duckhorn and became VP of winemaking. He next went to Artesa as VP and winemaker.

Mark Beringer

In 2015, Mark came back to his Beringer beginnings as chief winemaker to follow in footsteps of Laurie Hook, now winemaker emeritus. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be making wines for the very winery that my ancestor built, and be part of the next chapter in this important story of Beringer and of the Napa Valley,” Mark notes on the winery’s website.

Beringer is a brand of Treasury Wine Estates, an Australian-based global winemaking and distribution operation that traces its roots to Penfolds Wine and Foster’s Group beer. Treasury is a major international player in the wine world, making wine in 12 countries, selling more than 35 million cases of wine a year, and generating more than $2 billion in sales. Labels you may recognize include Sterling, Stags’ Leap, Beaulieu Vineyard, Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Acacia Vineyard, Blossom Hill, Rosemount, Walking Dead, 19 Crimes, Greg Norman Estates, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass, and their flagship—Penfolds.

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 delivers rich, dark fruit. Plush, full in the mouth. Smooth but serious wine with behaved tannins, especially after decanting. Nice balance and complexity. Pair with rich red meats; steak; barbecue; hamburgers; short ribs and other braised beef dishes; wild game; roast or grilled lamb; linguine pasta with mushrooms and caramelized onions; portabello mushrooms; hard cheeses (cheddar, gouda); blue cheese. $28-36

Beringer website

Jacob Beringer
Jacob and Frederick Beringer
The Rhine House at Beringer
Laurie Hook–Beringer
Beringer vineyard
Beringer Knights Valley Vineyard