The grapes for this commemorative bottling were grown on two Beringer vineyards, Bancroft Ranch and Tre Colline, at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain. Located above the summer fog line, this area enjoys more sun exposure but cooler average temperatures than vineyards on the valley floor, prolonging the grapes hang time and allowing for slow, even ripening. The soil at Bancroft Ranch, gritty white tuff of volcanic origin, is shallow, infertile and extremely well drained. The vines produce small, intensely flavored berries with powerful, concentrated fruit flavors and thick tannin-rich skins. The soils at Tre Colline Vineyard ("three hills" in Italian, referring to the vineyards gentle slopes within its mountain site) are also volcanic, but the color is deep red and the texture is friable and loose.
"There is an inevitable focus on Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley because of the intense flavors and beautiful, tightly knit structure were able to achieve here with that grape. But Ive been fascinated with the idea of bottling separately the wines I make with the complex, aromatic Cabernet Franc grape, which has achieved such stunning flavors in Cheval Blanc. The same Howell Mountain vineyards that give me great Cabernet Sauvignon produce great Cabernet Franc as well. The grapes yield a dense, deep wine with an immediate, mouth-filling hit of dark berry fruits backed by more subtle layers of cedary spices. And theres an amazing length to the finish thats typical of the Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc-the reason I always add a little to my Private Reserve Cabernet. The firm structure promises considerable longevity for this wine, appropriate for celebrating our third century of winemaking at Beringer well into the next decade."
-Winemaster, Ed Sbragia
No winery or vineyard more thoroughly embodies the timeless appeal and seductive flavor of Napa Valley than Beringer Vineyards, Napa's benchmark producer since the establishment of the vineyard in 1876.
Now in its third century of crafting classic wines from Napa's finest appellations and vineyards, Beringer today is guided by the inspired partnership of celebrated Winemaster Emeritus Ed Sbragia and Winemaker Laurie Hook. Together, they craft Napa Valley wines that speak eloquently of the rich heritage of the Beringer Vineyard, while offering cutting-edge quality and contemporary elegance. The exquisite wines crafted at the Beringer Vineyards display a single minded dedication and pursuit of excellence instilled by its founder, Jacob Beringer.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.