I didn’t even KNOW there was a Knight’s Valley Reserve. Obviously–like a lot of people–I cut my teeth way back when on Beringer KV Cab, even assuming for an early portion of that that it was Napa. Even on this 2018, the word “Sonoma” does not appear ANYWHERE on the label. And, with the winery being one of the icons of St. Helena AND Napa Valley, unless you know where Knight’s Valley is, the assumption is pretty safe. I still keep a spotty vertical of BerKV in the cellar, picking it up from time to time on sale or whatever–not only for nostalgia, but also because it is a SOLID, inexpensive Cabernet, year after year. So now we have a Reserve. Not sure how long that has been going on: never seen it on a shelf or heard talk of it, but there it is.

Dark, impenetrable, ridiculously staining in the glass. Round, smoothed-over and very ripe nose with a generous helping of loamy compost beneath careful dustings of cardamom and nutmeg. For a ‘Reserve’, the oak has been very even-handed, showing nowhere on the cherry-packed and green-briar infected–but muted–nose. It’s quite closed-in. Decanted heavily.

Thick and delicious on attack, although it pulls back handsomely from all-out extravaganza and blistering overwhelming-ness. We’re all so gun-shy about these Cabs now: the restraint has been turned off completely on so many brands, as *bigger-is-better* sells club memberships FAR more effectively than acid and pomegranate pith. Glowing bright over the middle, the acid crunches at the sides of your tongue, helping the pie-cherry and firm blackberry coat all surfaces etchingly. It is crystalline sharp and brilliantly infused with crisp hide and cigar-butt, maintaining a sweet thin-ness while low-key packed with generosity. The tannin is paint-etching, but the dark aspects of it fit perfectly into the barbs of the fruit. It’s not a huge rich ripe over-oaked Napa for sure, and I am grateful for that. Not sure I’ve ever had a “Reserve” so un-molested by process, and it’s gorgeous and balanced. TBH, I expected blatant over-the-top-ness, and instead we have something Togni/Matthiasson/Dunn/Corison people can firmly get behind.

2018 BERINGER Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Knight’s Valley Sonoma Co. California 14.5

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