I can count on one hand the times I have had Beringer’s ‘Napa Valley’ cab in my life. For some reason it just never pops up on my radar. I’ve had Private Reserve many times, Bancroft Ranch Merlot probably dozens, and HUNDREDS of Knight’s Valley’s. But I think this is maybe the third time I’ve had their plain old Napa Valley. Honestly: I just never see it on a shelf. Obviously, Beringer needs no introduction to those familiar with California wine. An absolute ICON, from the original Beringers pre-prohibition; through the years of Ed Sbragia (one of my personal heros); of course the White Zin craze; and now winemaking back in the hands of another Beringer. Black, impenetrable color in the glass, a shade of staining purple ruby barely thinning at the rim. Peach fuzz, banana, ridiculous ripe blackberry, of course a luxurious–but even-handed–treatment of rich oak, the sharp tinge of almost-minty earth hints it will NOT be over-done.
In the mouth, all you hoped for comes true. It is not an artery-clogging concoction of flabby tourist-pleasing nuances–rather a supremely balanced even-keel of ridiculous spicy berry, black loam and forest humus, the fruit a gloriously rich elixir of the finest things Napa has to offer: cherry so bright and acrid it will take the paint off your car; minerality completely over-shooting ‘grapefruit’ and headed toward ‘pineapple’; a rocky baseline of perceived sweetness knocked off its pedestal by razor-acidity and sumptuous tangy briar; a cat’s tongue of black fruit so anchored in un-tertiary tar and green leather; all collapsing sweaty and spent in piles of black walnut and bell pepper tannin for a cigarette.
Oh, you can trot out the blingy names of Napa cab all you want–and you can pay those prices. It consistently shocks me how these heritage labels produce wines of this caliber almost incognito: NEVER coming up in name-dropping conversations and literally almost under-the radar. And yet THERE they are in plain sight and nationally distributed–for WELL under 100 bucks. This is a juicy, structured wine: I *almost* expected a super crowd-pleasing lush-bomb sell-out–and it IS gorgeous here at 4, don’t get me wrong–but this is something I would confidently stash in my cellar for 20 years. The finish is a viral, teeth-wiping affair making all the yumminess worth living through.
2016 BERINGER Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 15.0