2012 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley

2012 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley

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A past Wine Access story about 2012 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa Valley

2012 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve: Parker’s 96-point “Classic, Quintessential Napa Cabernet”

The 2012 vintage will go down as one of the most monumental in recent history. Not since 2007 would Robert Parker rain so many perfect 100-point scores on the Napa Valley elite.

The challenge for collectors will come at the cash register. With the high-end wine market percolating like never before, release prices are soaring. Despite ample yields, based on our July discussions up and down Highway 29, demand far exceeds supply. Nearly every top-rated Cabernet Sauvignon will set you back $300+ on release. Most are fully allocated prior to release day. Procrastinators will pay the piper, as prices on the secondary market are likely to spike in the coming year.

If your investment advisor (or still worse, your spouse!) has you on a tight leash, and you’re looking to sock away a half-dozen bottles of one of Napa Valley’s most iconic wines for a price that won’t get you into trouble, today’s your lucky day.

Make no doubt about it: Despite today’s modest pricetag, winemaker Laurie Hook’s Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve — a bottle Parker called “classic, quintessential Napa Cabernet Sauvignon” — ranks among the greatest wines of 2012. Here’s why.


A warm, dry spring made for an unusually even set. The summer months continued warm and dry, but largely absent the torrid heat spikes that often blister Napa Valley clusters. Most importantly, nights were cool, keeping acids firm. Harvest went off without a hitch as turquoise skies reigned supreme.

The beauty of Beringer’s Private Reserve lies in the winery’s varied vineyard holdings, allowing a master blender like Hook to toy with dozens of assemblages before settling on a final blend. The 2012 Private Reserve is drawn from a half dozen disparate parts, including the famed Steinhauer Ranch Vineyard (30%), which provides structural backbone and girth. Beringer’s Bancroft Ranch Vineyard, set high above the fog line on Howell Mountain, offers up great density and mountain muscle, as well as the pine-needle aromatics for which the mountain is so well known. Beringer’s St. Helena Home Vineyard and another luscious, black-fruit lot from Rutherford provide the black-fruit filling. Aged for 18 months in custom-made Nevers cooperage, 95% of which was new, the 2012 Private Reserve may well be the most extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon ever crafted at Beringer.

Robert Parker went on an adjectival tirade, describing “abundant aromas of charcoal, burning embers, creme de cassis, chocolate, blackberries and licorice. The … full-bodied texture along with terrific purity and a savory, rich mouthfeel result in a classic, quintessential Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to drink now and over the next 20-25 years.”

96 points from Parker. As the winery prepares for its September release, this morning the WineAccess membership comes first. Suggested retail: $175. Today: $149. Shipping included on Three. 300 bottles are up for grabs.

Expert Ratings and Reviews

96 Points Wine Advocate
95 Points James Suckling
93 Points Vinous Media

Customer Ratings

Based on 9 ratings


Napa Valley 2012

Near-perfect conditions on the heels of two challenging years had Napa winemakers smiling as the 2012 harvest came to a close. To begin the season, spring bud break went off in perfect conditions, as did flowering and fruit set, setting the stage for a solid crop in terms of quantity. The summer continued with textbook conditions — warm days and cool nights allowing ripening with good flavors, sugars, and acid. Wines are rich, forward, and concentrated with plush, deep, dark fruit.

The ongoing drought played a role, with careful attention to irrigation causing some preliminary worries. Grapes did show some evidence of the stress with smaller, concentrated berries and higher polyphenols in the skins, but in the end these were more a contributing factor to the concentration and excellent quality of the fruit than a reason for concern.

Harvest started with a moderate September followed by a warm spell (with several days over 100°F) at the start of October, four days of rains to close out the month, and overall excellent conditions.

The results from these terrific conditions is a good-sized crop of very high-quality wines that are well-structured and concentrated with deep colors for the reds, slightly higher alcohols from the long ripening, but also in most cases with enough freshness and acidity to balance. Overall, they are wines with enough seductive fruit to be approachable young, but the best should age and develop for a decade and more.

Key Dates

Early bud break

Harvest starts for sparkling wine

Harvest starts for still wine

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