Beringer's Bancroft Ranch Merlot, and the relationship we have with the Bancroft family, has always been deeply special to Beringer and Winemaker Laurie Hook. The first vintage of this wine was 1987, and it immediately demonstrated how fantastic Merlot can be when planted in the right place.
VINTAGE & VINEYARDS
Beringer's Bancroft Ranch vineyard is located at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain, a growing area with well-drained volcanic soils. In 1984,Howell Mountain became the first area within the Napa Valley appellation to be declared a separate viticultural area (AVA) for the distinct characteristics of its wine grapes and now it is home to several of Napa Valley's most famous wines. Bancroft Ranch produces clusters with small berries whose high skin-to-fruit ratio results in well-structured wines with concentrated flavors. The flavors are further enhanced by the climate: the vineyard is about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the valley floor but experiences more hours of sunshine over the course of a day because it is above the fog belt. This allows for both extended hang time and slow, even flavor development.
The lots were kept separate through fermentation and aging to retain the individual terroir characteristics of each part of the vineyard. After gentle crushing and destemming, the juice and skins were sent to small fermenters where color, flavors and tannins were slowly extracted from the skins asvinification progressed. The wine was then aged in 100% new custom-toasted French Nevers oak barrels for 22 months. The extended time in barrel allows the big, Cabernet-like tannins in the Howell Mountain Merlot enough time to soften, and the aromas from the barrels become well integrated with the ripe fruit characteristics of the wine. Small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were added upon blending, to elongate the finish and add additional complexities to the blend.