The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes for this wine were grown in Beringer's Bale Lane Vineyard in the northern end of Napa Valley. Bale Lane enjoys the warm, sunny climate that vineyard manager Jim Frisinger believes is ideal for achieving round, full fruit flavors in both of these grape varietals. Vertical trellising systems have been implemented as an additional means of ensuring that the vines receive optimal sun and air exposure.
The techniques used to make this special botrytised dessert wine were developed by Myron Nightingale (Beringer winemaker, 1971-84) and his wife Alice. The Nightingales spent three decades developing their method for making a wine in the style of the classic French Sauternes. The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc for this wine were vinified separately and combined only after 23 months of barrel aging. The grapes were picked fully ripe (averaging 24.9 degrees Brix) and the whole clusters were placed in single layers on small trays. The clusters were then sprayed with pure Botrytis cinerea spores that had been carefully cultivated. The temperature and humidity were strictly controlled for about 33 hours until the botrytis was imbedded in the fruit. The humidity in the room was then lowered so that the grapes dehydrated, concentrating their aromas and flavors of apricot nectar, honey and figs. After about 14 days, with a Brix averaging 34.3 degrees, the grapes were gently pressed and the juice put into small French oak barrels for fermentation and aging. The Beringer winemaking team, led by long-time Winemaster Ed Sbragia, believes this use of barrels from fermentation through aging emphasizes the wines' butterscotch and caramel notes. Roger Harrison, Nightingale Winemaker, oversees this labor of love and has been doing so since 1985.
TASTING NOTES This very special wine offers a golden hue and features aromas of apricot nectar, crème brulee, vanilla and honey. Rich flavors of butterscotch, stone fruit and spice, with just a slight hint of cigar box, coat the mouth and linger for a long, luxurious finish. Whether paired with a cheese course or rich dessert, Nightingale is a wonderful way to end a meal. - Roger Harrison, Nightingale Winemaker