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Beringer Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch Merlot 2005

Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
  • WE94
  • WS93
  • RP90
14.8% ABV
  • WS92
  • RP90
  • RP90
  • RP90
  • WS90
  • WS88
  • WE92
  • WS92
  • RP91
  • RP92
  • WS90
  • RP93
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4.2 14 Ratings
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4.2 14 Ratings
14.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This vineyard, and the relationship we've had with the Bancroft family, has always been deeply special to Ed and myself. We've been making a vineyard-designated Bancroft Ranch Merlot since the 1987 vintage when Ed first demonstrated how fantastic Merlot can be when planted in the right place. Bancroft Ranch consistently produces grapes with amazing concentration of flavors, tannins and structure. The 2005 Howell Mountain Merlot is an exceptionally complex wine, full of espresso and dark cherry aromas that lead into a rich ripe black fruit flavors with hints of cedar and orange rind, brown spice and mint. It has tremendous body, complex layers of black fruit, and a supple, lingering finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 94
Wine Enthusiast
Gigantic, huge. Just erupts with the most intense cassis, chocolate and smoky new oak. Classic Howell Mountain structure, with dense, sweet young tannins and firm acidity. So immature, it’s sappy and jammy now, and is sorely in need of cellaring. Don’t touch before 2011, and should provide enjoyment for many years after.
Cellar Selection
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Plush, refined and impeccably structured. Offers bold aromas of black cherry, bittersweet chocolate and toasty cedar, with rich, complex red currant, licorice and mineral flavors that finish with a flourish of ripe tannins.
RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The outstanding 2005 Merlot Bancroft Ranch represents Merlot at its finest. Sexy, chocolaty, black cherry and berry fruit intermix with loamy soil and coffee bean nuances, and are impressively presented in this full-bodied, attractive, elegant Merlot. It should drink nicely for a decade or more.
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Beringer

Beringer Vineyards

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Beringer Vineyards, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
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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.

Howell Mountain

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Today Cabernet Sauvignon is the star of this part of Napa’s rugged, eastern hills, but Zinfandel was responsible for giving the Howell Mountain growing area its original fame in the late 1800s.

Winemaking in Howell Mountain was abandoned during Prohibition, and wasn’t reawakened until the arrival of Randy Dunn, a talented winemaker famous for the success of Caymus in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early eighties, he set his sights on the Napa hills and subsequently astonished the wine world with a Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Shortly thereafter Howell Mountain became officially recognized as the first sub-region of Napa Valley (1983).

With vineyards at 1,400 to 2,000 feet in elevation, they predominantly sit above the fog line but the days in Howell Mountain remain cooler than those in the heart of the valley, giving the grapes a bit more time on the vine.

The Howell Mountain AVA includes 1,000 acres of vineyards interspersed by forestlands in the Vaca Mountains. The soils, shallow and infertile with good drainage, are volcanic ash and red clay and produce highly concentrated berries with thick skins. The resulting wines are full of structure and potential to age.

Today Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah thrive in this sub-appellation, as well as its founding variety, Zinfandel.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

HOR62228_2005 Item# 112044