Beringer Bancroft Ranch Howell Mountain Merlot 1997

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I first had this about one year ago. In fact it was one of my first reviews and was my first reviewed wine at my highest rating. So, it was very interesting to return to it again and see how it developed (I have 1 left for a rainy day).

This is a serious merlot. Soft dark and red fruits on the nose with caramel and scorched earth. This wine is just incredibly supple and has remarkably clean fruit anda telling full mouthfeel. While this has really subdued compared to last year, it was still very luscious, but has now taken on a very pretty component that is vaguely floral. Butter, nuts and fruit cake compliment the clean berry flavours.

The finish is a perfect microcosm of the wine itself – like drifting off to sleep on a pristine winter day, just before christmas, as sugar plums dance in your head. Perhaps Beringer should rename this “Ode to Saint Nick”. This has got to be one of my favourite all-time wines, and I’m not even that ‘into’ plenty of merlots.

$90 at BCLDB


  1. Shea
    November 25, 2008

    I read your notes. Interesting perspective. I didn’t find the tannins offensive at all. This changed quite a bit compared to the last time I tasted it a year ago, though. It was a lot smoother and more supple this time around. I’ll probably open 1 per year for the next 2 years (maybe more if I can get a couple more).

  2. Joe
    November 27, 2008

    Hi Shea – funny you mentioned the tannins – I didn’t say they were offensive, and a “tannic wallop” is quite frequently a good thing for me! What I really meant there was that this wine still needed some time – definitely not a criticism. My only negative on the wine, and what I remember it for, was the flabbiness. A great wine, but I was surprised at how it declined rapidly after about two hours in the decanter – puzzling for me and not sure what that implies about its longevity. Wish I had another bottle to taste in a few years. Cheers!

  3. Shea
    November 27, 2008

    Interesting, I can’t say I paid a lot of attention to whether it got flabby after two hours. It seemed well balanced when I first started drinking it. I will have to look for that next time. Cheers!

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