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Beringer Third Century Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc 1996

Cabernet Franc from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
  • WS92
0% ABV
  • WS91
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Winemaker Notes

Third Century is a special limited bottling to commemorate Beringer winemaking that spans three centuries in the Napa Valley from the 19th century when the Beringer Brothers winery was founded to the 21st century as of January 1, 2000. Winemaster Ed Sbragia created this wine from carefully selected Cabernet Franc grapes grown in our Howell Mountain vineyards, well known for producing our Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. "There is an inevitable focus on Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley because of the intense flavors and beautiful, tightly knit structure we're able to achieve here with that grape. But I've 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 there's an amazing length to the finish that's 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

Critical Acclaim

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WS 92
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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.

Cabernet Franc

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The subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets, Cabernet Franc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon and shares many of the structural elements of Bordeaux’s cornerstone variety. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is often planted as an insurance policy against its later-ripening offspring, as it is more likely to thrive in a difficult harvest. But don’t mistake Cabernet Franc for merely a supporting player—this grape variety produces outstanding wines on its own or as the dominant component of a blend. It produces perhaps its most alluring wines in France’s Loire Valley, in the regions of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where brighter, riper wines can be achieved. Outside of France, Cabernet Franc has performed quite well in parts of California, New York, and Virginia.

In the Glass

Paler, lighter, crisper, softer, and much more aromatic than its progeny, Cabernet Franc typically tastes of red raspberries, cherries, and herbs, with a stunning perfume of violets, tobacco, and spice.

Perfect Pairings

Mouthwatering acidity makes Cabernet Franc an incredibly food-friendly wine, helping to cut through the richness of fatty meat dishes. It especially shines in tandem with lamb, and its affinity for the spice cabinet allows it to pair perfectly with Chinese dishes prepared with Szechuan pepper and five-spice.

Sommelier Secrets

Under-ripe Cabernet Franc can be leafy and green with harsh tannins and mouth-searing acidity, so it is best to avoid highly spiced curries and fiery chili dishes.

ELVCABFRANC_1996 Item# 31037