Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernets: A mighty heritage in Napa Valley

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BEAULIEU VINEYARD wines always give me pause. It was this winery and its iconic winemakers that helped turn Napa Valley into a world-class wine region. A hundred years ago and still today, BV is one of the most important wineries in Napa Valley. Frenchman Georges de Latour and wife Fernande established BV in 1900. The legend goes that Fernande said “Quel beau lieu” — “what a beautiful place” — when she first saw the site, and so the winery name was born. Following repeal of Prohibition, Latour hired famed Russian-born enologist André Tchelistcheff who made wine quality soar. “The Maestro,” as Tchelistcheff was known, defined the style for Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley.

The winery remained under family control until 1968 when it was sold to Heublein for $8.4 million. Today, it is owned by another conglomerate, Treasury Wine Estates, and the legacy of fine winemaking endures with Jeffrey Stambor as head winemaker. Stambor joined the winery in 1989 and worked with Tchelistcheff.

If you want to read more about the BV story and the early days of Napa Valley, you might get a copy of “Napa: The Story of an American Eden” by James Conaway (1990), still available at Amazon. I guarantee you won’t put it down.

Beaulieu Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2014, $42: Amazing flavors, tannins, balance — dark berries, cocoa, tobacco, caramel, and spicy oak with the firm tannic structure that’s so famous in the Rutherford area of Napa Valley where these grapes were grown. Flavors are rich, textured and savory. It’s a classic, well-mannered Napa Cabernet at a price that still is do-able. It will get even better with age, but it’s delicious and accessible right now. Eighty percent of the grapes are from BV’s own vineyards in Rutherford.

Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry Red Wine Napa Valley 2013, $65: So gently powerful. So dense and complex. Structured. This tremendous vintage gave BV a wealth of rich flavors to play with for this blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon provides the core of dark berries; the Merlot helps tame the tannins and add midpalate structure; Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot complete the package with dense color and earthy, deep plum notes. The word tapestry suggests an intricate weaving, something artistic, an item of worth. Which makes it a pretty good name for this Napa Valley red wine blend from this prestigious winery.

You can reach Sandra Silfven at