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BEAULIEU VINEYARD

by Sergio Sismondo


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A visit to Beaulieu Vineyard is a delight for every wine lover; beginner or connoisseur, amateur or professional. On the east side of the St. Helena Highway, at Rutherford, the Beaulieu Vineyard presents an imposing set of buildings which lend the town the unmistakable appearance of a classic and distinguished wine community. The Tasting Room is a large and comfortable paneled and beautifully decorated almost circular hall. Ancient amphorae grace one side, a mediaeval tapestry on another side. Staff is attentive to guests' needs and, of course, the wines are excellent. A tasting in the Georges de Latour Reserve Room is a very special treat indeed. It is elegant and friendly, not always a combination easily found. Hospitality Manager Sharon Schaubach and her staff, which includes wine experts Birgitta Sarver

from Sweden, Jenny Obermeier, Curtis Graham, George Gosling and Eric Mooney, among others, are extremely knowledgeable and very helpful to curious visitors like ourselves. There is evident enthusiasm in the air here, and it is right that there should be, to match the superb quality of the products being offered.

OUR CHOICES.


This Fall we sampled a great range of wines, both reds and whites: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. There were also Beaulieu famous blends, and a new line of labels under the name of MAESTRO. All the wines were excellent, and we rated them in the upper eighties and nineties. Following is a table with our ratings for the current releases.
Our preference for a white wine ("best value") goes to the 2004 Viognier, with a rating of 89, and price at $15.00.

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Beauzeaux, Signet Collection, Napa Valley, 2002 88
Beauzeaux, Maestro Collection, Napa Valley, 2003 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Coastal Estates, 2002 88
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Signet Collection, Central Coast, 2002 88
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Rutherford, 2001 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Rutherford, 2002 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Rutherford, 2003 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon,   Rutherford, 2004 89
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2005 88
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve, 1998 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve, 1999 95
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve, 2000 94
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve, 2001 94
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve, 2003 94
Cabernet-Sauvignon, George de Latour Private Reserve,   2004 92
Chardonnay, Carneros, 2002 87
Chardonnay, Carneros, 2003 88
Chardonnay, Carneros, 2004 88
Chardonnay,   Carneros, 2005 87
Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, 2001 90
Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, 2003 89
Chardonnay, Reserve, Carneros, 2005 89
Dulcet (1) Reserve, 2001 91
Ensemble Blanc, Signet Collection, Mendocino County, 2002 87
Ensemble Red, Signet Collection, California, 2001 87
Ensemble Red, Signet Collection, California, 2002 88
Ensemble Red, Signet Collection, California, 2003 88
Ensemble Red,   California, 2004 88
Grenache   California, 2005 89
Merlot Coastal Estates 2002 88
Merlot Napa Valley 2003 88
Merlot Rutherford 2002 89
Merlot Maestro, Rutherford 2003 90
Muscat de Beaulieu n.v. 88
Petite Sirah     2004 89
Pinot Gris, Signet Collection, Carneros, 2001 86
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2002 88
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2003 87
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2004 88
Pinot Noir,   Carneros, 2004 88
Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, 2001 90
Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, 2002 92
Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, 2003 93
Pinot Noir, Reserve, Carneros, 2004 91
Pinot Noir, Reserve Carneros, 2005 89
Pinot Noir, Vin Gris Signet Collection, Carneros, 2004 86
Pinot Noir, Vin Gris Carneros, 2005 87
Port Napa Valley 1999 88
Port   Napa Valley, 2004 89(2)
Sangiovese, Signet Collection, North Coast, 2002 87
Sangiovese, Signet Collection, North Coast, 2003 88
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2004 87
Sauvignon Blanc,   Napa Valley, 2005 87
Syrah, Signet Collection, Napa Valley, 2001 88
Syrah, Coastal Selection, 2005 87
Tapestry Reserve, 2003 92
Tapestry   2004 90(3)
Tempranillo   Napa Valley, 2005 89
Viognier Signet Collection, 2004 89
Zinfandel Napa Valley, 2001 90

(1) Dulcet is a Bordeaux style blend, 78% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 22% Syrah.

(2) This Port is made from a blend of Turiga Nacional, Zinfandel and Tempranillo.

(3) This Tapestry release is a blend of five varietals: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Malbec.

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  • Our choice of the best red wine tasted was the Georges de Latour Cabernet-Sauvignon Private Reserves of 2000, 2001, or 2003, priced at $85 and which received our ratings of 94 or 95. These are superb wines of great depth, with strong structure and long finish. The 2002 George de Latour has deep ruby-violet colour, with characteristic hints of black cherry, and the best complex of "Rutherford dust" scents and flavors imaginable. It is a treat to drink now, but can also be aged for ten years or more. Year after year it is a classic of the Napa Valley, and 2001 may turn out to be among the very best.
  • A second choice was the Pinot Noir Reserve, Carneros, of 2003, a wonderful wine, priced at $35 with our rating of 93. This year we did a special effort to review as many Carneros Pinot Noir releases as possible, and when it was all said and done, this one figured prominently among our favorites. We heartily recommend this wine to buy -- as we did.
  • Our "Best value for money" choice goes again to the Sauvignon Blanc. The 2004 vintage is priced at $13, we rated it 87.

The Zinfandel and Pinot Noir wines which we tasted are included in the extensive Zinfandel and Pinot Noir listings in this web site, in the sections "Wine Listings / California - Zinfandel", and "Wine Listings / U.S. West Coast - Pinot Noir".

RETROSPECTIVE.

In three visits to this distinguished and historical vineyard during 2003 we tasted a range of wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Georges de Latour Cabernet-Sauvignon Reserve, a Bordeaux blend of four varietals labeled Tapestry Reserve, several Zinfandels and another Bordeaux blend labeled "Beauzeaux", Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. All the wines were excellent and we rated most of them in the 90's.

  • Our preference for a white wine goes to the 2000 Carneros Reserve Chardonnay. We can recall tasting very few Chardonnays which we liked as much as this one. It is priced at $28 per bottle, which in our opinion is a bargain for the quality. Our rating was 94.
  • Our choice of the best red wine tasted was the Georges de Latour Cabernet-Sauvignon Private Reserve of 1999, which is priced at $100 and we rated 95. This is a superb wine of great complexity, with strong structure and long finish. It is a treat to drink now, but can also be aged for ten years or more.
  • A second choice was the "Tapestry" Reserve of 1999, a wonderful Bordeaux blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit-Verdot and Cabernet Franc, all from Napa Valley, priced at $45 with our rating of 92.
  • Our "Best value for money" choice goes to the Sauvignon Blanc 2001, which is priced at $13 and which we rated 87.
  • Our "Best value for money" choice for a red wine goes to the Pinot Noir, Signature, Coastal, 2001, which is priced at a modest $11, and received our rating of 87. There is a 10% discount for purchases of 6 to 11 bottles, and a 15% discount for purchases of 12 or more bottles.

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A WORD ABOUT WINE CLUBS.

Beaulieu Vineyards also has a "Wine Society" worth investigating. It is one of the oldest wine clubs in Napa Valley. Membership entitles you to visit the "members only" Tasting Room, a 20% discount on purchases made at the winery (with some restrictions), and invitations to special events. One tier above is membership to "Le Corps de Latour" which provides Signet series, Reserve and Private Reserve wines by mail, invitations to special events, and a host of other privileges.


For more information, visit: www.Bvwines.com

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