Wine Enthusiast off base about Behringer chardonnay

September 9, 2013

Hope Labor Day was delightful. Some of our out-of-town guests were in a foul mood due to the rain. Overall I thought the weekend was lovely. Barbara and I shared a quiet time and several lovely family meals with sons Daniel and Connor. Of the wine we sampled, one highlight was a Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2011. Most rated it 92 or 91 but Wine Enthusiast only scored it 87 so I decided to look into it. WE was way off base.

Although the wine was slightly closed, I attributed that to its youth. Allowed a half hour in the glass, and presto change-o, the bouquet blossomed. Light golden-colored with a slight green tinge, Beringer provides a good example of a typical old-line California Napa Chardonnay. Lovely chardonnay nose with hints of vanilla and tropical fruit riding a well-balanced frame that is very smooth. On the palate, citrus, apple, butter and oak-driven spice. The finish is crisp, tart and has some mineral qualities. QPR is outstanding when bought under $30. Will cellar at least through 2025 and two years will greatly improve. 93 points McD.

Many are touting the Ridge Estate Vineyards Monte Bello Vineyard Merlot 2010 recently priced around $38. Avoid! Ridge makes great Zins and terrific Syrah, but you can do better with others' Merlots. Chateau Ste. Michelle from Oregon provides Indian Wells, a consistent 88 points, Canoe Ridge 88-92 and Cold Creek 88-94 points single-vineyard Merlots. The first two are priced less than $20 and Cold Creek around $28. Best buys: 2007 Cold Creek, 94 points, $28; Canoe Ridge 2010, 92 points, under $24. Best QPR Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley Merlot 2009 for $12. A lovely dark purple garnet-colored wine with a bouquet of berries, coffee, dark cherries and spices; the palate is lush and silky with chocolate and dark berry flavors supported by good tannic structure. Aged 14 months in oak (33 percent new); 13.5 percent alcohol. A whole lot of wine for the money.

How about 2005 Bordeaux priced under $24 and rated 88-90 points? Chateau de Francs Les Cerisiers is a special cuvee made from the oldest vines at the chateau. The 2010 is similar and can be had for $17. This 90-point (WS) gem is dark purple with reddish highlights, cherry nose, but a plum, pepper and linzer torte palate with some tobacco back notes. Nice soft finish - drink now through 2018, preferably with red meat.

Three ideas stolen from a recent Snooth article: New York has just banned shipping of wine, bringing the total of fascist states who do so to 38. For those who think this practice is deplorable, take a look at a company named Naked Wines. Coravin is a company with a product that allows wine to be siphoned and replaced with inert gas without extracting the cork.

They also claim the cork reseals the very small hole created. Most important is the founding of AWCC, American Wine Consumer Coalition, which you should join and support. AWCC promotes laws that encourage the unfettered interstate shipment of wine from wineries, retailers, auction houses and wine clubs, and fights for common-sense laws supporting BYOB and corkage regulations. Check them out at There is absolutely no reason for governments to prohibit sales of a legal product in licensed properties or to the general public upon reaching maturity. The only results I have seen are to limit availability to gather more tax and to drive prices higher.

Finally, a little love for Argentina’s Cruz de Piedra Tiasta Torrontes. Yellow-gold in color with intense aromas of peach, citrus, honey and white flowers. Medium body with bright acidity to balance its slight sweetness, the wine feels soft, fresh and persistent on the palate with flavors of fresh citrus, peach, honey and anise. It is crisp and refreshing on the finish; 88 points under $10. Also Vicentin Family Wines Blend de Malbecs, $17, colored red to violet, on the nose, lilacs, violets, and the wine opens with a very sweet, smooth taste with round, smooth tannins, red berries, cherries and ripe plum flavors. Barrel aging added hints of vanilla and chocolate. It has a long-lasting, elegant finish with mature tannins.

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