93 Points - James Suckling
“Richly captured dark and red plums with mulberries and a purple rose-like floral edge, as well as nicely played oak spices. The palate has smoothly cut plum-flavored fruit flesh with a gentle thread of dark cherries and chocolate driving the supple, deep finish. Drink now or hold.” - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
93+ Points - The Wine Advocate
“Deep garnet-purple in color, with a nose of preserved plums, mulberries and fruitcake with hints of Chinese five spice, menthol, espresso and black pepper with a waft of licorice. The palate is big, rich, soft and seductive, beautifully framing the voluptuous fruit with velvety tannins and ample freshness, finishing long and spicy.” - Lisa Perotti Brown, Wine Advocate
Early, a bit challenged by the cumulative impact of the drought years, but exceptional in quality for the smaller amount of fruit that was harvested. That’s the story of the 2015 growing season. A mild winter caused early bud break, followed by protracted bloom and unseasonably cool weather in spring, contributing to smaller grape clusters and variable crop size.
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 five 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. Beringer has been making a vineyard-designated Bancroft Ranch Merlot since the 1987 vintage.
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 fermentors where color, flavors and tannins were slowly extracted from the skins as vinification progressed. The wine was then aged in custom-toasted French Nevers oak barrels (50% new) for 20 months. The extended time in barrel allows the big, bold 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.