2016 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California
Wine of the Week with Annette Tomei
If you visit the Napa Valley, don’t miss the historic Beringer estate. Beringer is the longest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley with over 142 years. And it is still going strong. However, the winery’s impact extends beyond its home in the Napa Valley.
The Beringer Family has owned vineyards in Knights Valley in Sonoma County since the 1960s. They even played a role in having the area designated as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the mid-1980s. The Knights Valley AVA is situated in Northern Sonoma County, connecting the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. The location enjoys a higher elevation that provides cool evenings, compensating for the hot sunny days. The volcanic soil (complements of Mt. St. Helena) also creates ideal conditions for premium wine grapes.
Knights Valley is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. The “king of grapes” makes up about two thirds of the production here. The vines are challenged enough to produce lower yields. However, that fruit has ideal conditions for full ripening while maintaining great acidity, the backbone to complex flavors. So you wouldn’t expect to find a California Cabernet for under $50 from this region.
About this wine
Beringer’s Knights Valley Cabernet is a traditional Bordeaux-style blend. It contains 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. And it is aged in French oak (30% new) for 16 months. The 2016 vintage is young, yet very drinkable. And yes, it’s affordable, shockingly so for a California Cabernet under $50.
Classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of graphite, cassis, and cocoa powder opened to include blackberry and juicy Bing cherry. The tannins are soft and silky, and balanced with dark berry acidity. Oak-driven characteristics are well integrated, not stealing the spotlight from the layers of Provençal herbs and dark earth.
While dining, I went out on a limb with this one. I was craving Bordeaux in a seafood restaurant, and a Bordeaux-style California Cab was the best option available. The fine balance of this wine flowed gracefully from traditionally prepared escargot to Dover sole in lemon butter. I’m sure the richness of each dish helped. But I was pleased that the wine showed such finesse. Next time, I’m hoping to pair it with wild mushroom ravioli and rack of lamb–maybe for Valentine’s Day.
Not only is this wine under $50, it is often found for about half that! Buy several–some for now, some for a couple years from now. It’s a treat to enjoy a wine this delicious without breaking a weeknight wine budget.
Want to try this California Cabernet for under $50? Search for a retailer near you with Wine Searcher.
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