Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was every granted by the gods to man.” – Plato
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I hope you enjoyed my other article about Cuvee Laurent Perrier Rose and you’re now thirsty for more! I’m planning to entertain you with one or two wine/champagne articles a month which should also encourage me to explore new wine libraries across the world and discover some hidden gems.
Every continent displays a desire, even an obsession, to produce the finest wines. Today I’m going to leave behind the traditional vineyards of Europe, represented in particular by France, but also by Italy and Spain and head to California, specifically Napa Valley. Did you know that 90% of all American wine is grown in California? Napa Valley accounts for only 4% of the wine produced in California but for many it is a symbol in itself of California wine.
The wine I have chosen to embrace with you today is a BERINGER Merlot. I came across Beringer for the first time during my trip to Antigua back in 2013. What at first seemed to be just another house wine served in an all-inclusive resort turned out to be one of the best wines I have ever had the pleasure to taste and it remains my favourite to this day.
A bit of history
Beringer has been Napa Valley’s benchmark producer since its establishment in 1876. Chinese workers were employed to hand-chisel rock tunnels that were to be used for the storage and aging of wines. Although these tunnels took many years to complete, they’ve turned out to be an excellent facility to this date. Beringer Vineyards continue to house and age fine wines today, in these fantastic tunnels built years ago. For those who would like to explore a bit more about the wonderful heritage of Beringer’s family and their Napa Valley vineyards I recommend you visit their website.
So without further adieu let’s dive right into the world of Beringer Merlot. What a truly majestic wine it is! All those years of pursuing balance between modern technology and time-tested winemaking traditions, has resulted in Beringer wines of global recognition.
The Merlot specifically has a tremendous body, complex layers of black fruit, and a supple, lingering finish. Full of espresso and dark cherry aromas that lead into rich ripe black fruit flavours with hints of cedar and orange rind, brown spice and mint. Grapes for the California Collection Merlot are picked at the peak of maturity to maintain the fruit’s rich, ripe flavors in the finished wine.
California Merlots tend to be more fruit-forward, with lots of raspberry and blackberry, cut with strong mocha and chocolate notes. The tannin tends to be softer in such warm climates.
Merlot benefits hugely from some barrel time, and leaving it to sit in oak for up to 24 months can add a huge amount of depth and complexity to the wine, and balance out some of the zealous fruit with oak and vanilla. This does the trick for me! I’m obsessed with wines that contain that subtle hint of vanilla combined with beautiful dark cherry and raspberries aromas.
Small amounts of petite Sirah and Syrah are added for complexity and depth of flavors. Half of the wine is aged in seasoned French, American and Hungarian oak to add toastiness and hints of brown spice to the final blend.
It’s well-balanced, soft tannis make this wine a perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods, such as grilled meats or hearty vegetable dishes.
Merlot will work famously with a bit of roasted duck, some braised beef, grilled vegetables, or pasta with pesto.
Why not try the famous Beringer Gram Slam Skewers with a glass of Merlot
2 lbs.Sirloin steak
2 lbs.Seasonal vegetables
1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Beringer Founders’ Estate© Merlot
1 sprig each Thyme, rosemary, oregano
5 heads Garlic
12-18 Wooden skewers
Soak skewers in water for 20 minutes
In a blender, puree garlic, herbs, wine, olive oil, and vinegar until thoroughly mixed
Dice steak and seasonal vegetables into similarly sized cubes
Alternately place meat and vegetables onto wooden skewers
Let skewers marinate in herb mixture for at least 1 hour (12 hours maximum), turning every 30 minutes
Preheat grill to high
Remove skewers from marinade and let rest for 15 minutes
Grill skewers until vegetables are charred on the outside and steak is cooked to preference
Glasses and Serving
Red wine glasses will be a bit taller and have a larger bowl than white wine glasses. In general Reds are bigger and bolder wines so they require a larger glass to allow all those aromas and flavors to emerge.
Red wine tastes better when served slightly below room temperature from 53-69 °F (light red wines like Pinot Noir taste better at the cooler end of the spectrum)
Decant your wine
“Decanting” simply means that you are pouring your wine from the bottle into another receptacle. When you decant your Merlot, you are further allowing the wine to aerate and breathe. This can help enhance the flavor of the wine. Merlot should be decanted for approximately 2 hours. Make sure to allow yourself time for this process before serving.
It’s quite challenging to find Beringer, specifically Merlot, available to buy in the UK and if so – it usually comes at quite a high price per bottle and a fairly hefty delivery cost. However, recently I managed to purchase some Beringer Merlot after months and months of online hunting! And it happened to be in the most unexpected place, Cancun, Mexico. The hotel we stayed at during our recent trip to Mexico, the Secrets the Vine, organises daily wine tasting and this is where we met the sommelier who recommend us a place called Vinoteka. Fairly sceptical, we went to downtown Cancun expecting nothing more than a run-down shop with a couple of shelves of wine. How astonishing it was to arrive at the fine wine library that offered the whole range of Beringer! I thought I’d add some photos of the Vinoteka if you ever decided to pop in while on holiday in Cancun. There are so many beautiful hidden gems throughout Cancun and this place is one of them if you enjoy a glass of good wine.
Thank you for reading and please share your experiences with Beringer, the more the merrier!