Cabernet Sauvignon Port. Beringer

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | December 1982

The Beringer story starts in 1870 when German immigrant Jakob Beringer arrived in Napa Valley. He had some training in the French vineyards, so he applied to Charles Krug for a job, and was put to work in the winery. In 1876, with extra investment from his older brother Frederick, who still was in New York, he started the Beringer winery. It remained a family operation for 94 years through three genera­tions. In 1970, the Swiss corporation of Nestle chose to purchase and upgrade the winery.

In these 12 years, Beringer wines have seen a renaissance under the direction of winemaker Myron Nightingale and vineyard manager Robert Steinhauer. Award winning wines have been coming forth.

When you are in St. Helena, a winery tour of Beringer is a must. The caves are temperature perfect and date to the original days. The charming Rhine House built in 1886 is a replica of the old family home in Germany, resplendent with stained glass and fine woodwork.

“Traditional” port comes from the Douro region of Portugal. It is world famous; or better yet, it is “Anglo famous”. The English are ceremonious about their port. Several countries have made port-style wines and labeled them as port; to the chagrin of the originators. The international problem of wine nomenclature is moot to the enjoyment of good wine. Let’s leave that to the politicians and enjoy the product.

Port is made by fermenting red grapes, with maximum extraction of pigment, to a 4 to 6 % alcohol level, then adding grape spirits to stop the fermen­tation and bring up the alcohol content to about 19%. This preserves the youthful fruity flavor of the grape in a somewhat sweet fortified wine. Grapes used in Portugal are not commonly found elsewhere. Beringer has chosen to make a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon port. An interesting varietal dimension. If you are a Portuguese “vintage” port enthusiast, please do not compare. It’s like comparing oranges and tangerines!

The wine is amber red, with great “legs”. The aroma is fruity with a cabernet overtone. It tastes a mouthful!…velvety, sweet, slight alcoholic bite, and obvious cabernet character. Serve with unsalted nuts, cheddar cheese, or pears, after dinner.

Cellaring Notes: Ready to drink.

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