2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
TOP SECRET ALERT: Due to a delay in some of our operatives receiving the promotional email for this exceptional wine deal, we have decided to extend this offer for one day. The Free Ground Shipping Offer of orders of six or more has also been extended. You the promotion code SPYBERIGNER at checkout.
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Beringer.
Exclusive Wine Alert!:
Besides at the winery, the only place to purchase today’s wine is right here! If you want more later, please be sure to visit the winery.
Mission Codename: The nectar of the Titan
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Place wine colossus Beringer Vineyards under close surveillance and determine is a perceived mass-market wine producer can produce a wine of exceptional quality and refinement
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Beringer Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Laurie Hook
Backgrounder: The Wine Spies tend to focus on missions to small wine producers, but when reports flood in from our field Assets, we listen – and launch missions accordingly. When Central Command kept receiving reports of a particular Winery Direct Only (only available to consumers at the winery or the Beringer website) Cabernet Sauvignon from respected wine producer, Beringer Vineyards, Agent Red was dispatched to the historic winery in St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley. Read the mission report below for full details.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet red with cherry-jello clarity a tight and slow-moving surface with clear edges and thin, closely-space legs that creep down the glass
Smell – Rich and dusky, with deep aromatic black cherry, tobacco, cedar, mixed dark berry and espresso and the slightest mint
Feel – Medium weight and grippy, that is cool across the top of the tongue and warming at the edges
Taste – Deeply concentrated and layered with flavors of blueberry, blackberry and cherry with smoked toffee, coffee and leathery plum
Finish – Full-bodied and rich with flavors that go on forever, accompanied by soft to medium tannins that dig in all over the mouth, including the lips
Conclusion – If we had not already heard of the greatness of this wine from our Assets in the field, we would have been somewhat skeptical. While we try to approach every wine with an open pallet, wines from mass-producers can tend to be rather hit or miss. Not so with this wine. In this delicious blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc (my favorite single grape varietal), we find a wine that reveals a character that pays homage to Beringer’s historic winemaking roots. Founded nearly 132 years ago, Beringer is the oldest continuously running wine producer in the Napa Valley. This Cabernet Sauvignon captures the spirit of the winery by delivering an approachable wine of balance, character and distinction. With fruit from a handful of Beringer’s most famous vineyards, I am reminded of Old World reds from Italy. However, this wine adds a little New World to the mix, giving American drinkers more subtlety and less brashness than they might experience in a Old World wine.
Being good a Wine Spy requires an open mind, a refined palate and great Assets. Without our Assets, made up of confidential informants and other agents wine wine-industry wide, my work would be far more arduous.
When Central Command issued the directive to place a big winery under surveillance, I knew immediately that I should call upon one of my newest assets, codename: Malbec.
Malbec himself maintains a network that penetrates deep into the industry. Malbec operates at the locus of of the industry where he maintains connections to top wine producers and wine-drinkers alike. Despite his sinister sounding name, Malbec is well-liked and deeply respected.
On this occasion, Malbec directed me to the Beringer Winery. What I knew about wine-giant Beringer was simple: For a mass-producer of wine, they were able to craft more than a handful of stand-outs each year. What I was soon to learn, was just how stand-out Beringer wines could be.
I rendezvoused with Malbec one rainy Napa day and we headed over to the tasting room. Once there, he asked specifically for their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. Winery staff happily poured us each a glass and we swirled and sipped away the balance of the afternoon, enjoying the wine and extolling its many virtues. This was a great wine and my conceptions of what a big winery could produce was smashed to pieces.
The Beringer 2003 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a big and hearty wine that lacks the brashness of some of its neighboring contemporaries. It also has the refinement and suppleness of more boutique-ish Napa Cabs, but without the $100 price-tag.
This wine is usually only available directly from the winery, but through special negotiations – and with the help of Malbec – The Wine Spies were able to secure a small quantity of this superb wine for you for today only!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Beringer Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Check out The Wine Spies on Wine Library TV
Awards & Accolades:
Rated 89 – Exhibits more cassis, earth, and tobacco characteristics than the Knights Valley as well as a deeper style, good purity and richness, and medium to full body. Again, the overall impression is one of softness with enough wood to provide a pleasant spicy note.
Robert Parker Jr., Wine Advocate, Issue #168 December 26, 2006
About This Wine:
“This wine is immensely fun to make since we are really striving to make a wine that is appealing now, but also showcases Napa Valley Cabernet. The plump soft tannins and the lush valley floor fruit make this a very accessible, balanced and elegant wine. The nose opens with succulent ripe black cherry, cassis, cedar and a hint of mint. Dark, round fruit flavors fill the mouth and transition into a structured and long finish with sweet vanilla and black cherry flavors complemented by a cocoa dusting.” Laurie Hook, Winemaker
For the 2003 blend, a third of the fruit comes from the St. Helena Home Vineyard right next to the winery at St. Helena. Approximately 25% of the blend comes from Beringer’s renowned Bancroft Ranch on Howell Mountain and another 15% comes from Quarry vineyard in Rutherford. Fruit from Marston Vineyard on Spring Mountain, Steinhauer Ranch on Howell Mountain, and Knights Valley Cabernet from Sonoma round out the blend, adding layers of fruit flavors.
Each lot was kept separate through fermentation and aging to retain the individual expressions of the vineyards, giving a broader array of aromatic, flavor and structural components to consider at blending time. After fermentation, all of the lots were aged in 100% new French Never oak barrels for almost 26 months. The winemakers tasted the lots regularly to monitor their development and get an idea of which wines would fit together best in a final blend. A touch of Cabernet Franc (2%) completed the wine.
Beringer’s History & Commitment to Quality:
Jacob Beringer left his home in Mainz, Germany, in 1868 to start a new life in the U.S., enticed by his brother, Frederick, who had sailed to New York five years earlier and wrote home constantly of the grand opportunities to be found in the vast new world. New York did not appeal to Jacob, however. He had enjoyed working in wine cellars in Germany when he was younger and had heard that the warm, sunny climate of California was ideal for growing wine grapes. So in 1870 he traveled by train from the East Coast, first to San Francisco and then on to Napa Valley . To his delight, he discovered rocky, well-drained soils similar to those in his native Rhine Valley .
The volcanic soil was ideal for growing the same grapes found in Europe ’s great winemaking regions. Best of all, the hills could be dug out to provide storage and aging tunnels that would maintain the constant temperature needed to produce fine wines. Jacob and Frederick together bought land in 1875 and set about making wines that compared to the best in Europe . In 1876, they founded the Beringer Winery.
The tough task of hand-chiseling the tunnels in the mountainside behind the winery fell to Chinese workers who had returned to the Bay Area after helping build the Trans-Continental Railroad. The tunnels took several years to complete but were the perfect place to age and store fine wine.
Even today, the average 58°F temperature inside the tunnels makes them the ideal place for Beringer Vineyards to age fine wines and the newly restored Old Stone Winery, a popular focus for visitors, marks the entrance to this cool, subterranean world.
While the winery was being built, Jacob took up residence in a farmhouse on the property built in 1848, now referred to as the “Hudson House.” Meticulously restored and expanded, the Hudson House serves today as Beringer Vineyards ’ Culinary Arts Center . In 1883, Frederick permanently moved to the Napa Valley and began construction of a 17-room mansion that was to be his home—a re-creation of the Beringer family home located on the Rhine River in Germany . This unique “Rhine House” is the center of Beringer’s reserve and library tastings. It is a place where guests can enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing in the old library or on the same porch that Frederick once sat, overlooking the expansive lawns, lush gardens, and out across the Napa Valley .
Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley . In 2001, the estate was placed on the National Register for Historic Places as a Historic District. Jacob Beringer’s foresight in recognizing the quality and potential of grape growing in the Napa Valley is part of the living heritage of Beringer Vineyards . With the present use of state-of-the-art technology applied to age-old traditions, Beringer Vineyards ’ wines continue to reflect a single-minded dedication to the making of memorable wines from great Napa Valley vineyards.
Residual Sugar: 0.03 g/100ml
Acidity: 0.67 g/100ml