Beaulieu Vineyards is an iconic Napa winery. Purchased in 1900 by the LaTour family, they survived prohibition by making sacramental wine. When that ‘’grand” experiment ended they had the foresight to hire Andre Tchelistcheff as winemaker and the brand took off, quickly becoming a mid-20th Century benchmark for what Napa wine should be. Since 1969 it has been owned by a series of corporate giants, the most recent being Diageo that lists Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Dom Perignon among their brands as well.
Corporate behemoths can sometimes manage to maintain quality, but seldom achieve greatness. And indeed BV has lost its status among the leading lights of Napa. Tapestry Reserve, their Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated Bordeaux blend, is solid and reliable but not exceptional. Yet this 2004 is aging nicely. The fact that it is holding up so well is testimony to the inherent quality of this producer.
Berry notes are still vibrant wrapped in lovely fig aromas with overt oak influence in the form of pencil shavings, tobacco, and cedar quite prominent. On the medium-bodied palate, the fresh, round berry flavors give way to a subtle, flinty seam in the middle range leading to what is now a very soft finish with fine tannins almost talc-like in texture, drying but with no grip. Alcohol is well-disguised.
There is still depth in the fruit flavors and they play well with the oak. The tapestry of oak barrels used to age this wine—French, American, Hungarian and Russian—have left a complex legacy. This wine lacks an astonishing evolution or bewitching personality but bottle age has been good to it. A little ordinary but worth laying down for a decade.
It is at its peak right now—drink within two years.
Vibrant, supple, seasoned and predictable, it will go down well with Nora Jones and Wynton Marsalis “You Don’t Know Me”
Price: $50-$60 at release