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June 4, 2019

Don’t Forget BV…

It is a sad fact of human nature that we tend to overlook that which is familiar--even when the familiar is an “old favorite.”  In our era of rapid change, some shiny new object competing for our attention, and in the world of wine, we’re actually talking about newcomers by the hundreds each year, from all points of the compass.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, and when I was invited to taste some new releases from Beaulieu Vineyard with winemaker Trevor Durling earlier this year in Washington, DC, I reflexively did what I always do when unable to make a meeting due to a schedule conflict:  Reply with, “Sorry, but I’d be glad to try the wines.”

Well, I just tried the wines, and I’m even sorrier now than I was when sending that email, as I wish I’d been able to meet Trevor and learn more about what’s happening at BV these days.  Hopefully I’ll have another opportunity before long, but for now, let me report that what’s happening is quite impressive and pretty damned delicious, judging from the performance of the three wines I tasted.

BV’s flagship is among the most historic wines in the United States.  At $145 per bottle, you might need a special occasion to try Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Georges De Latour Private Reserve” 2015.  Still, the wine is so good you should contrive an occasion.  How about Father’s Day?  Buy it for your father and present it…with the cork already pulled.  Or buy it for yourself if you’re a father.  Even if you’re an orphan, you still had a father, so there’s an angle to be played.  And play it you should, as the 2015 was masterfully crafted from obviously terrific fruit, and is already wonderful--though it will still become significantly more complex over the next decade.  Dark and deeply flavored, with lots of interesting little aromatic nuances leading the way, it offers admirably layered flavors of blackberries, black cherries, spices, toast and cocoa powder that are exceptionally well integrated.  Worthy of particular credit is the fact that the oak-derived notes are already beautifully interwoven with the fruit, the richness of which has already counterbalanced any overt wood tannin (90% of the oak was new) plus almost all of the grape tannin.  96 Points.

Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley “Tapestry Reserve” 2015 won’t require quite as much inventiveness to justify a purchase at $65, though that’s still a price at which one can reasonably expect to get a serious, deeply satisfying wine.  Which this is.  It is a softer, more broadly-textured wine, but still with very good structure and very promising aging potential.  However, there’s no need to age it, as the fruit is very open and expressive.  Complex too, as one would expect from a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.  The percentage of new oak ticks down to 60%, which is still quite considerable, but again, the integration of wood and fruit is superb, so this has plenty of spine for paring with a grilled steak, but enough versatility to sing with a veal chop.  93 Points.

Finally, the standard-issue Napa Cab does not taste like a standard issue Napa Cab, as I’m delighted to report.  Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 seriously over-performs at $33 in relation to its Napa counterparts, with notably more intricacy than is the norm.  I tasted this without having seen the tech sheet detailing its components, and was very impressed by the multiplicity of aromatic and flavor notes, which include both red and black fruit tones plus lots of interesting little nuances.  That description makes sense when one learns that the core of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon is augmented with 7% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Touriga Nacional, 3% Malbec and 2% “other complementary varietals.”  Considering that blend, one could argue that this wine is more of a tapestry than the Tapestry, but no matter:  It is delicious, and just as interesting as it is delicious, which isn’t often the case from Napa at $33.  91 Points.

In sum, all I can say is:  Good on ‘ya Trevor…hope to meet you on the next round!
Posted by Michael Franz at 1:10 PM