96 Points - Vinous
“The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Bancroft Ranch is dense, powerful and muscular on the palate, with tremendous depth and intensity in all of its dimensions. Beams of salinity and minerality give the 2016 its shape and overall sense of energy. Many of the 2016s are quite open, but the Bancroft Ranch needs quite a bit of time. The only question is how much.” - Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2018
Distinctive, even decadent, this full-bodied plush wine is well-structured and balanced with complex aromas and flavors of dark fruits, milk chocolate, black cherry and licorice accented with herbal notes and baking spices. Soft but potent, it delivers a memorable, spicy finish.
Located at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Howell Mountain, in a growing area with well-drained white tufa volcanic soils. In 1984, Howell Mountain was the first area within the Napa Valley appellation to be declared a separate viticultural area (AVA) for the distinct characteristics of its wine grapes. 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 10ºF 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 extended drought was beginning to cause concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Warm temperatures arrived as harvest began, but ultimately, everything came together in the best possible way
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 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.