WINE REVIEW AUGUST 2017

HISTORIC NAPA VALLEY WINES DELIGHT THAI CONSUMERS

Symbol, image, insignia—each synonymous with the often overused noun “icon”--can aptly be applied to Beringer and Beaulieu wineries in California’s Napa Valley. These true icons of oenological enjoyment are now regularly available in Thailand offering consumers options ranging from accompanying everyday dining to treasures in collectors cellars. Both became hallmarks of predictably pleasant wine choices in restaurants and on retail shelves during the 1960’s rise of wine awareness across the United States.

Opened in 1878 Beringer holds the distinction of being California’s oldest continuously operating winery. Founders, brothers Frederick and Jacob Beringer, aggressively expanded their winemaking capacity and passed their holdings on to their sons. During the infamous Prohibition era of 1920 through 1933 many competitors were forced to cease production, however, Beringer and a few others weathered this difficult period by producing sacramental wines for religious rites. Punsters are quick to note the sudden rise in church attendance during this period.

As the popularity of wine surged in the U.S. Beringer took things in stride and further increased their vineyard holdings while also developing long-term contracts with respected growers. Their success attracted the interest of international corporations hungry to join the burgeoning global wine boom. The family finally opted to reward themselves for generations of hard work by accepting a buyout offer from Nestle Corporation. Subsequent transactions led to ownership of Beringer by Australia’s Foster’s brewing empire and ultimately to control by Treasury Wine Estates.

Even with ownership changes the family has remained actively involved. Founder Jacob Beringer’s great-great-grandson Mark Beringer is now chief winemaker. During the 1990s Beringer had the distinction of being the only winery to hold Wine Spectator magazines distinguished #1 Best Wine award for two wines, its cabernet in 1990 and its chardonnay in ’94.

Ongoing plaudits and awards caught the attention of Hua Hin’s spectacularly remodeled and expanded Marriott Resort & Spa when it auspiciously chose July 4th, American Independence Day, for a thoroughly enjoyable seaside Beringer wine dinner. Executive chef Mario Hofmann displayed the full scope of his culinary artistry with courses seamlessly paired with Beringer wines. A plate-filling braised lamb shank complemented by Beringer’s multiple award winning Knight’s Valley cabernet brought smiles and applause all around.

Napa Valley’s much heralded Beaulieu Vineyard wines have also reappeared on Thailand’s retail shelves and dining venues. Founded in 1900 by Georges de Latour the “beautiful site”, as anointed by Latour’s wife, the winery gained fame for consistency in high quality red wines in the style of Bordeaux. Look for famed Georges de Latour Private Reserve cabernet on premium wine lists. Created by legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff it remains a collector favorite worldwide. At more down-to-earth prices are Beaulieu’s merlot and cabernet in upscale retail wine shops. Chok dee!

Written by: R. James Mullen