When you are as passionate about wine as I am, it’s difficult…well almost impossible…to keep me out of the wine section of any store I visit. Such was the case back in 2007 when I was wandering through the aisles of the wine section of our local Sam’s Club when I came across a bin of some bottles of 2002 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve.
The Beringer Private Reserve is one of the flagship wines of the Beringer Vineyards and I was amazed to see it in Sam’s Club. I knew that this wine normally sold for well over $100 a bottle and was surprised to see that it was priced substantially less than that. It still sells today for $79 to $95 a bottle. Sam’s Club had even taken the time and the initiative to post The Wine Advocate ratings of the 2002 vintage on a little card on the front of the bin and that attracted my attention because the ratings were relatively high.
I am not suggesting you need to pay a lot of money for a bottle of wine. What I am suggesting is that you should do your homework on wines and keep your eyes open. You never know where you might find that special bottle of wine. I mean, who would have thought Beringer Private Reserve could be found at Sam’s Club?
The Beringer Vineyards are a well known Napa Valley vineyard. In fact, Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. It was founded in 1876 by Jacob and Frederick Beringer who had migrated from their home in Germany to New York and then on to California. The first Private Reserve was crafted in 1977 and it continues to be made today.
The 2002 Private Reserve was released in the fall of 2006 with some 14,200 cases being produced. At the time of release, the wine sold for $116 a bottle. In December of 2003, Robert Parker rated the wine at 91 to 93 points. In December 2005, Parker again tasted the wine and rated it at 94 points. In that 2005 tasting, Parker described the wine as a fruit-forward, softer, more flamboyant effort displaying notes of chocolaty crème de cassis, some spicy high-quality toasty oak; a rich, plush, savory, expansive mid-palate, and a long heady finish with sweet tannin and fruit. Parker suggested then that the wine would be good to drink for another 15 or 20 years. Parker again tasted the wine in July of 2012 and gave it a rating of 95 points and increased the maturity from 2014 to 2034.
In contrast, in May of 2012 Wine Spectator magazine tasted the wine and scored it at 88 points and suggested a maturity of no more than 2015. Of note, in July 2012, Parker described the wine as full bodied, fleshy and succulent with sweet tannins in the finish. Parker said: This 2002 has not yet hit full maturity. Give it another 2 to 4 years of cellaring and drink it over the following two decades.
I don’t know how many others took advantage of buying this wine at Sam’s Club. But I do know there weren’t that many bottles left in the bin, so I bought what was left to put in my personal cellar. Several nights ago, I decided to try one of these bottles having had it in my cellar and never tasted it since buying it in 2007. I opened the bottle and decanted the wine for about 2 hours and poured a glass and let it sit in the glass for about 5 minutes before I took the first sip.
The color of the 2002 was a dense purple, maybe only a few shades off what it would have been when it was bottled. I found the wine not quite as sharp as it probably was three or four years ago. But it continues to be an impressive wine with good ripeness and with a big rich, not too tannic, superb length finish.
I’m not sure this wine will last another 15 years, but it certainly is showing very well now and if you get the opportunity to drink a Beringer Private Reserve whether it’s the 2002 or any other, I think you’ll find it’s just a delightful wine and would be a joy for you to drink. Don’t hesitate to buy the wine if you get the opportunity.
Continue educating yourself on the wines you enjoy so wherever you go, from supermarkets to big box stores, you can keep your eyes open for that diamond in the rough! Have you found a diamond in the rough? I hope you will share some of your favorite finds with me in the comments section.