Robert Parker, whose reviews and scores have been calling the tune in Napa Valley for almost 40 years, called the 2013 growing season “The Game Changer.” The second straight drought year featured near-perfect conditions, with notably consistent warm temperatures from budbreak to harvest and no heat spikes. The resulting wines, Parker wrote in his Wine Advocate vintage report, are “powerful, rich and concentrated, extremely well-delineated, and will be extremely long-lived, eclipsing even the aging potential of the 2012s.”
Exhibit A: The 2013 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve. Parker needed 97 points and 166 words to try to capture the quality of this “instant classic,” and we’re not sure he did.
Parker raved about this blend of coveted blocks from Beringer’s Bancroft Ranch, Steinhauer Ranch, and Vogt vineyards atop Howell Mountain, topped off with the best that Beringer’s St. Helena Home Ranch had to offer. It’s “one of the great efforts of recent years,” Parker wrote, “multi-dimensional, layered, and one of the all-time great” Beringer Private Reserves. Did you catch that? GREAT.
The challenge for collectors will come at the cash register. With the high-end wine market percolating like never before, release prices continue to soar. Despite ample yields in 2013, based on our recent discussions up and down Highway 29, demand far exceeds supply. Nearly every top-rated Cabernet Sauvignon will set you back $300+ on release — if you can find them! Most are fully allocated prior to release day. Procrastinators will pay the piper, as prices on the secondary market are likely to spike.
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.
The beauty of Beringer’s Private Reserve lies in specific blocks from the winery’s single-vineyard holdings, which are masterfully blended from dozens of assemblages before settling on a final cuvée. The 2013 Private Reserve is drawn from a half dozen disparate parts, with a majority hailing from three sites high above the fog line on Howell Mountain. These include the famed Steinhauer Ranch Vineyard and Bancroft Ranch Vineyard, both at 1,800 feet in elevation, with the former providing structural backbone and girth, and the latter offering up great density and mountain muscle. The Vogt Vineyard at 1,600 feet up Howell Mountain contributes dense, velvety tannins, while the St. Helena Home Vineyard — part of the original 215 ares purchased in 1875 — provides the luscious black-fruit filling.
Parker’s rhapsodic review describes a full-bodied wine “with oodles of crème de cassis, pen ink, graphite and baking spices.” This “classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon” was aged for 20 months in custom-made French Nevers cooperage, 84% of which was new. The venerable critic suggests it will cellar gracefully for “30 to 40” years!
You’ve read this far. You’re certainly familiar with Parker’s description of Napa’s 2013 vintage as “the Greatest Vintage I’ve Tasted in 37 Years Visiting Northern California.” Hopefully, you’ve already hit the “Buy” button. But if not, we repeat: 97 points from Parker.
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