2012 Beringer "Private Reserve" Napa Valley Chardonnay (Previously $35)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
For its size and prominence, the St. Helena flagship Beringer winery does a remarkable job with the quality of its offerings. They have been fortunate to choose a brilliant line-up of chief winemakers, from Ed Sbragia, to Laurie Hook. The following group of wines, coming primarily from 2012 for the reds, and 2012 and 2013 for the whites, is one of the strongest I have tasted with them. That is reassuring when you consider the enormous size of the umbrella Treasury Estates that owns Beringer. The Chardonnay Private Reserve became famous under the helmsmanship of chief winemaker Ed Sbragia, and Laurie Hook has refined it ever so slightly by somewhat backing off the oak, and maintaining the depth and richness, but with more precision and refinement. The full-bodied 2012 Chardonnay Private Reserve exhibits wonderful orange blossom, white peach and pineapple fruit, a subtle touch of vanillin and toast, and a nicely layered, pure style with terrific fruit intensity. It is a great value, especially if you compare its quality to just about any premier cru or grand cru white Burgundy selling for 2-10 times as much. Drink now .
*Hot Wines* Shows off seductive notes of smoky, toasty oak and cream, with fresh, rich, vibrant fruit to match. The flavors of poached pear, fig, honeydew melon, spice and black licorice all fold together on a long, pure, persistent finish. Drink now through 2020.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(14.7% alcohol; 80% new French oak; full malo): Bright, light yellow. Tight nose offers scents of lemon oil, white peach and stone; higher-pitched and less obviously oaky than the Luminis bottling. At once thick and vibrant on the palate, offering a lovely balance of sweetness and acidity. Richer, deeper and more complete than the Luminis, filling the mouth with citrus and stone fruit flavor without coming off as heavy. Long on the finish
This is classic Beringer Private Reserve Chard, ripe, oaky, lush, balanced and utterly delicious. There’s a lot of everything, from massive tropical and citrus fruits to creamy lees. The malolactic fermentation helps make it buttery and 80% new French oak brings buttered toast and vanilla-bean richness. Balance comes by way of acidity and minerality.
The 2012 Chardonnay Private Reserve is the biggest and richest of the Beringer Chardonnays. Tropical fruit, butterscotch and French oak nuances dominate in an ample, broad Chardonnay built on volume. This lineup from Beringer and winemaker Laurie Hook is commendable for many reasons, chief among them a number of large production value-priced gems that deliver fabulous quality for the money. Of course, most of the flagship wines are terrific, but it is the performance of the entry-level wines that is particularly remarkable.
According to Robert Parker: "Despite the enormity of this enterprise (multiple wineries and a global network), the flagship estate in northern California, Beringer Vineyards, continues to be in very capable winemaking hands, and the quality of the wines remains exceptionally impressive, particularly when you look at some of the huge production numbers of their lower priced offerings." (10/2013) From the winery: "Each Chardonnay lot was kept separate throughout the aging process. After sending the fruit directly to press, winemaker Laurie Hook fermented the juice in French oak barrels (88 percent new) to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, Laurie chose the most expressive lots and blended them to create a richly layered wine with aromas of crème brulee and rich citrus and fruit flavors. Aromas of grilled stone fruits and toasted hazelnuts are complemented by flavors of ripe tropical fruit and notes of lemon and lime. A generous, creamy mouthfeel is rounded out by balanced acidity and a lengthy, elegant finish."