Wine Review: 2001 Beringer – Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley

Frequent readers of Vino in Love know that most of the time I review and write about Italian wine but today I make an exception. A few days ago, I visited my family and one evening my father suggested that I should pick a bottle of wine from his cellar for our dinner. His cellar is very impressive and I had a hard time deciding on which wine to chose.

After half an hour I was still looking through his treasures – some of the bottles were even older than I am and even though I was tempted to pick one of those I decided to go with a 2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

In 2004 I travelled with my family to the States and we visited the Beringer ranch with its famous Rhine House in Napa Valley. Back then I had no interest in wine and I was so happy when we left again. All this fermentated grape juice didn’t make much sense to me. Nevertheless, I still remember the visit quite well and before leaving my parents bought a few bottles Beringer that they brought back to Germany.

I heard about the Beringer Private Reserve before but I never had the opportunity to try it and I certainly didn’t expect that my  first reaction would be this:

Today I will try to put the beauty of this wine into words. Fortunately, I am not limited to 140 characters for this. Let’s get started.

Beringer

In the late 19th century two Germans, Jacob and Frederick Beringer, left their hometown Mainz and sailed for the New World. After arriving in New York, they decide to traveled to California, purchased around 200 acres of land in Napa Valley and opened a winery.

In the 19th century, most vineyards in the United States were cultivated by European immigrants and the largest group of them was German so it was no surprise that the Beringer brothers decided to get involved in the wine business. For more information about the origins of wine making in Napa Valley I recommend you head over to Immigrant Entrepreneurship and read their article on Jacob Beringer.

In present day, Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley County producing a large range of wines. Their most prestigious line is the so-called Private Reserve, which consists of a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tasting Notes

2001 Beringer - Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa ValleyThe 2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc from six different vineyards. However almost 40% of the grapes were grown at the Steinhauer Ranch. The wine aged 23 months in French oak.

Prior to drinking the wine was decanted for a little over two hours.

In the glass there was a deep garnet red color. 14.2% was the label listed alcohol by volume.

The nose was harmonic, very intense, elegant and overall perfect. A heavy aroma of blackcurrant, some tobacco leafs, a bit of blackberries, a hint of ripe cherries and some spices. The bouquet evolved with some additional time and the tobacco leafs became less intense and aromas of dark chocolate started to become more dominant.

On the palate, dry with extremely mellow, pleasing tannins. The 2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon had a big body was very well-strcutured and had an incredible complexity. Good acidity that kept the wine vivid. There were notes of cocoa and raspberries. Very elegant Cabernet Sauvignon which tasted as delicious as it smelled. Amazing, never-ending finish. The 2001 Private Reserve is perfectly ready to drink now. It’s fantastic!

5 / 5 stars      

The Bad News

The Bad News is the price tag. Beringer sells its 2009 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for 160$ per bottle. I was told that back in 2004 the the 2001 vintage was already rather pricy but it was nowhere near that price.

Now the question arises whether this price for a single bottle is justified or not. This is a question I cannot answer for you but I am curious what your opinion on this matter is.

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18 comments on “Wine Review: 2001 Beringer – Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley”

  1. talkavino Reply

    Julian, it is the first time ( I think) I see 5/5 dating from you – sounds like you had an incredible experience (I can also see that from your tweet). Beringer makes very good wines, and their private reserve line is outstanding (no, I didn’t have this particular Cabernet Sauvignon).
    When it comes to the price of wine, the subject very very complicated. If you think about it, wine a luxury – it is not a necessity. As a luxury, it becomes a personal decision for everyone as to what is the value of the things. are. Does it makes sense to spend $24,000 on Rolex, where you can have Swiss Army for $49.99? To me it doesn’t, but there are millions of people in this world who don’t share my opinion. Is $160 a lot for the bottle of wine? For someone who is really into wine and can pay such an amount for the bottle? Not really, as you are getting an amazing wine. Most of the California cult Cabernet Sauvignon are priced about $400/$600, with Screaming Eagle out there at $2,500+/bottle. In the end of the day, the price of wine is fixed, but the perceived value is not, so the more a person values the wine, the more he/she is willing to pay for it…

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Anatoli,
      Indeed I’ve had a fantastic experience with this 2001 Private Reserve. The Beringer Private Reserve is not the first wine I rated with 5/5 but there have only been a handful or so in the past. In order for a wine to get a 5/5 rating it has to be something very special to me.
      I’ll see if I can find some more Napa wines in Munich. The Private Reserve aroused my interest to try more US wine.

      You make good a point with the rolex comparison. Thanks for sharing your opinion on this.

  2. winetalks winetalks Reply

    It’s good to see that you “branch out” a bit 🙂 If you like Napa Cab then you should consider trying the Lewis Cellars Cabernet. It’s one of my favorites 🙂

  3. hannah-theis hannah-theis Reply

    I don’t know if it’s wort spending $160 on a bottle and I certainly wouldn’t do so. Wines only get so much better in quality and usually after reaching the $60 mark the quality won’t improve much more. It would be interesting to have a blind tasting with a bunch of wines that cost $100+ and include a $60 wine and test if the other wines really all taste so much better because I think they won’t..

    Anyways, sounds like you had a good experience with this Cabernet. Cheers!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Hannah,
      Thanks for sharing your opinion. I only party agree but after all wine is something very personal and there is no right or wrong answer to my question.

      The Cab was an incredible experience. Definitely worth the money 🙂

  4. Suzanne Reply

    I love your reviews Julian, it’s like poetry. I enjoy Beringer wines but have never tasted their reserve. For an exceptional wine I would pay $160, this wine sounds exceptional. How nice to have visited the vineyards in Napa, although you were too young to really appreciate it, it has left it’s mark. As a child I didn’t appreciate my Grandfathers wine, now I wish I had a bottle to taste. Your Father’s cellar sounds like a real treasure trove.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Suzanne,
      Thank you for your kind words 🙂
      The Private Reserve was a fantastic experience and I am very happy that I went with this bottle that evening. Last year, I reviewed a different wine from Beringer, which was not to my liking.
      I still remember very well driving through Napa Valley and visiting all kind of different vineyards there. Napa is so pretty and I’m looking forward to visit the area again.

  5. Sean P. Reply

    This is one of the rare occasions that I see you rating a wine this high. I must try this one.
    When it comes to high priced wine then I don’t have a problem spending hundreds of pounds on a bottle of wine. Some people like expensive cars – I like good wine and on average good wine costs more than £50.
    I wouldn’t buy a Rolls Ryce or any other luxury car but I enjoy buying (and drinking!) wines like Antinori Tignanello, Petrus, Opus One, Sassicaia and Dal Forno Amarone .

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Sean,
      Well, in order for a wine to receive a 5/5 rating from me it has to be something very special. I’ve only rated a little more than a handful of wines this high so you’re right, this is a rare occasion 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your opinion on this topic. Much appreciated!

  6. Marco van Puff Reply

    Fantastic review. I love reading your reviews. They always make me pour a glass of wine. I don’t know if I would be willing to pay $160 for a bottle of wine. To be honest, I never thought about it before. I guess if it’s outstanding then I might do it but I also might regret it afterwards..
    Wine is a passion but I don’t want to become a snob that only buys expensive wine just to be different.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Marco,
      Thank you so much and thanks for sharing your answer my question. I believe there is no right or wrong answer to it but it’s interesting to see what people think about this issue.

  7. wineking3 wineking3 Reply

    I had the Beringer Private Reserve Cab a few times and always enjoyed the wine a lot. Have you tried Beringer’s Chardonnay Private Reserve before? It’s one of my favorite California Chards.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Wineking,
      I haven’t had the Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay before. I red that it’s overly oaky. But thanks for the recommendation 🙂

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