Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beaulieu Vineyard or BV

Beaulieu Vineyard or BV is one of the most historically important Napa Valley wineries, one that everyone serious about wines should visit at least once. I have been to Beaulieu Vineyard many times over the past forty years and a visit is always worthwhile.  I had many bottles of their Beaulieu Vineyard 1970 George de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet, which helped put Napa Valley on the map and was a great cab back then. It was one of the first Napa Valley Cabs that I fell in love with. I preferred it to most first cru Bordeaux wines which I actually could afford back in the early 1970s but for which I would have to mortgage my home to purchase now in today's market.  I remember its restrained elegance that contrasted with some of the bigger Napa Valley Cabs, such as the Charles Krug.  I continue to have a vivid memory of tasting the famous 1970 BV reserve alongside the 1965 Charles Krug cab.  BV produces many different varietals but in my mind it will always be the home of the BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beaulieu derived its name from George de Latour's wife, Fernande, who in 1900 when she first saw their original four acre vineyard in Rutherford, exclaimed "Quel beau lieu," or "What a beautiful place."  In 1901 they purchased a nearby winery that had been built in 1885. George de Latour was originally from France and his vision was to produce Napa Valley wines to compare with great French wines.  He imported phylloxera resistant rootstock from Europe and then survived Prohibition by remaining open and selling sacramental wines to churches.  In fact, BV was so successful in selling sacramental wine that when it ended in 1933 they were producing over one million gallons of wine a year.  In 1938 he brought over from France the famous Andre Tchelistcheff, an iconic legend who was both a viticulturist and a winemaker and who mentored almost every famous early winemaker in Napa Valley, including Mike Grgich, Joe Heitz and Robert Mondavi.  By the 1949s BV wines were being served at the White House.  During the 1950s BV was considered to be one of the "big four" Napa Valley wineries, along with Inglenook, Charles Krug and Louis Martini.  In 1969 BV was purchased by Heublin, Inc. who later became part of RJT Nabisco.  In 1987 it was sold to Grand Metropolitan.  When they merged with Guinness in 1997 to become Diageo, BV became part of the world's largest multinational beer, wine and spirits company.

During this visit we opted to only sample two wines, the Beaulieu Vineyard 2008 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $32 and the Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Reserve Maestro Cabernet Sauvignon Ranch No. 1 at $65.  The former had a blackberry nose with good fruit and balanced tannins.  The later was riper and more extracted and was even better.  It was rated 91 by Robert Parker.  As good as the Maestro was, though, we thought the Rutherford cab was probably the better deal at less than half the price, although both cabs were very good and well worth a visit.  At the time of our visit you could sample wines by the glass or chose the Maestro Tasting of four wines for $15 or the Premier Tasting of four wines for $20. Please call or check their webpage for current tasting fees. They are also in the Napa Neighbor Program.  BV is open to the public without an appointment.  Tasting options are listed here: BV tastings.
So put Beaulieu Vineyard on your list of iconic, historic Napa Valley wineries that you should visit at least once if you are a wine lover.  BV is located next to the famous Rutherford Grill and near the wonderful Italian Restaurant, Alex.  Both are highly recommended for lunch or dinner before or after a visit to BV.  

Beaulieu Vineyard or BV
1960 Saint Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 967-5233
Date of visit: October 5, 2011

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