Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium Red 2000
"Ever since I first started making a Merlot based Bordeaux blend from our Knights Valley fruit, I've enjoyed the process. As each vintage comes and the grapes show more and more mature flavors and complexity, the excitement has compounded. The spectrum of aromas, flavors, colors and tannins I have to play with is awesome in any vintage, and in 2000 I was especially enamored of the brightness of the cherry and blackberry characteristics in the Merlot we harvested."
-Ed Sbragia, Winemaster
Winemaster Ed Sbragia and vineyard manager Bob Steinhauer first began working together with Knights Valley fruit in the late seventies. They spent the next decade learning the vineyard's personality and understanding the varied microclimates and alluvial soil types that occurred throughout the property. Merlot is planted in loamier soils near the center of the alluvial fan and the vines are trained and managed so that the fruit clusters are exposed to the early morning sun and shaded by their leaves from the warmer afternoon sun. "One of our values as a winery is that the vineyards are an extension of the winemaking thought process," explains Steinhauer.
Ed and Laurie kept all of the lots separate during vinification and aging to protect the subtle differences individual parts of the vineyard exhibited. The wines were then aged in small French oak barrels for 22 months to soften the tannins and to add vanilla and sweet spice characters. The blend they chose is a lush, intense-cherry/blackberry core of 75 percent Merlot and layered 17 percent Cabernet Sauvignon to support the structure and add depth to the dark fruit aromas and flavors. Small amounts of Malbec, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc added more spice and fruit nuances to the palate, giving an overall impression of plushness and depth.
"Sonoma's most inland appellation, where days get hot, is home to this Merlot-based, five-varietal Bordeaux blend. It's ripe in blackberries and plums, with herb and coffee complexities. Completely dry, with soft, smooth tannins, it's a heck of a good food wine."
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.
A small and picturesque valley separating Napa Valley on its south border and Alexander Valley to its north, Knights Valley excels in similar varieties as the two aforementioned appellations, namely red Bordeaux varieties and blends, as well as Sauvignon blanc. Originally established by Beringer Vineyards, today several outstanding producers claim acreage here. The circadian cooling effects of the nearby Pacific Ocean create a nighttime respite for vineyards during the hot growing season.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines, modeled after the Right Bank, are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.