Beringer provides a lovely Cabernet, fairly priced

February 25, 2013

I had so much fun watching wrestling - both high school and college this weekend - I nearly forgot my wino buddies. Not to worry, folks, my notebook runneth over. Good for information, not so good for goblets of red wine.

Speaking of which, let’s jump into this week with a stunning 96-point red. Yeah, I know, many are shaking their collective heads, moaning, “There you go again, another great wine we can’t afford.” En garde mes amis, as they say in the south of France, encore faux! The Domain Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Occultum Lapidem 2010, which RP extolled on release, has tripled in price to $30 and is still a bargain in my book, but wise shoppers will look for the 2006, rated 91-93 points on release, that is in the heart of its drinking window and is on sale for $20/bottle with a possible case discount. Chapoutier’s Occultum Lapidem 2006 is still dark, with a huge nose full of licorice, pepper, black currant and cherry, with garrigue and spice box notes. Lush, sweet tannins are beginning to incorporate, providing a rich, supple wine with a pleasant, clean, long finish. Two price points, gang; 94 from McD.

Many have asked me to explain the term supportive tannin, and I have never quite got it right. In a recent article by GDP titled “Seven more annoying wine words” he had a lucid answer. “Like pretty much everything, wine’s flavors are built on a foundation. The structural elements of a wine - acid, tannin and sugar - support those flavors much like salt does for food.” You can read the article in Snooth.

Another high-value, low-price lovely is Schloss Vollrads Riesling Spatlese 2010. Vollrads gets 92 points from nearly every rater and was chosen No. 37 on Wine Spectator’s list in 2012. It spiked to $32 and is on its way down.

Currently findable for $25, now is the time to buy for summer fish and sip. Delicious! Don’t forget these German whites cellar and mellow for long periods, up to 25 years. So, if you enjoy them, buy by the case for best pricing. The 2010 are a lovely rendition of Spatlese. Slightly sweet, with plenty of acid backbone, it is finely balanced and shows lovely peach and baked apple flavors. Finishes long and flavor-filled with cream and vanilla flavors. Enjoy it with local fish, Asian, bleu veined cheeses and summer fruit desserts.

Inexpensive always. Top shelf always. Beringer Knights Valley Cabs are usually always bargains. The 2010 will not let you down. This vintage is a blend of 93 percent Cab, 4 percent Merlot and 3 percent Cab Franc.

Keep in mind that by Cali law, if a wine contains 75 percent or more of a varietal wine, it may be so named. BKV is one of those wines that suffer from being priced too cheaply. The wine snots are hard pressed to give great scores, and that’s too bad. Year after year, Beringer provides a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon that is fairly priced. The 2010 need a few more months, but if you buy now, it will be reaching its window next fall and run into 2020. Buy it around $18/bottle, and probably you may find a 10 percent case discount.

BKV has great QPR (quality price ratio). It drinks as it was made to do. Integrated tannins, proper acid and minerality support a dry, but fruit-sweet easy drinker. Dark fruit, venison, herbs, road tar and chocolate are all riding medium-but-full smooth body.

If there is a flaw it is in the abbreviated finish, but at this price it is a steal. If I wish to introduce the younger set to Cabernets I often go to BKV to find the foil. The gang of four gave 88-91 points; I am on board for a 92. BKV is one of the most consistent Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignons out there. I don’t think it has been rated less than 88 since it had an 87 in 1998.

As Joan Collins once wrote, “Age is just a number, unless you happen to be a bottle of wine.”

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