Knight’s Gambit

This one’s on the shelf alongside all the old-school Napa stalwarts–and often gets passed off in the same groupings–and the winery ANCHORS Napa Valley, but those in the back rows know it is Sonoma. Beringer somewhat plays into this: as this bottle does not contain the word “Sonoma” ANYWHERE on it. I fell in love with this wine back in the olden days of super-market-shopping and limited budget. Still, it is no weakling–even a barely 25 bucks, nation-wide distribution, and probably a 40K-case production. The label has changed an annoying number of times in the past two decades, and my small vertical in the cellar is a kaleidoscope.

They can go the long-run though. I don’t recommend keeping them too much longer than this, UNLESS they have NEVER moved since bottling. Garnet through-and-through, with an appropriate amber edge, There’s a burnt-wood and greasy fruit tertiary to the nose, cherry reduced to bright syrup, leather and cedar coming on strong. Beautiful to smell, lovely to drink, but not anything seriously orgasmic. As one would expect from a wine of this PP from the fading years of Napa longevity.

Dense and rich on the palate, acid buoyant, the fruit a candied chunk of blackberry, NyQuil, anise and redwood. The middle is still thick and round and while I would say it at peak, it is not showing any signs of fruit-fatigue. Spicy and sharp, gritty finesse creates a teeth-wiping situation–especially when the structure kicks in. Tannins polished but not weak, with the finish being the true test of this sort of wine: the fruit is strong and concentrated, not giving the tannin an inch.

You can laugh at wines like this all you want–I’m not here for unicorn-points–but I think it imperative they are visited regularly, as a baseline for all the bright, young fun stuff we drink. Gorgeous wine.

2007 BERINGER Cabernet Sauvignon Knight’s Valley Sonoma County 14.3

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