Check out the new, mobile-friendly!

A California Merlot That Surpassed Expectations

Beringer Merlot Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch 1987
James Laube
Posted: April 22, 2009

I've been rummaging through my cellar these days to trim my wine spending, tap what I've cellared and discover wines I'd forgotten about. One happy recent discovery: Beringer's 1987 Bancroft Ranch Merlot. This was a great wine when it was released years ago and one of Beringer's first serious forays with Merlot off Jim Bancroft's vineyard on Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley appellation.

Normally I would have enjoyed this wine years ago. But it was lost in one of the cellar bins and, the moment I saw it, I knew I had to open it immediately, which I did. The cork split in half, so I turned to my ah-so cork puller to pull out the remaining half. (You should always have an ah-so for situations like this; the two prongs wrap around the cork, instead of puncturing it, so a fragile cork won't crumble.) I decided to decant it, as the wine had lots of sediment.

The aromas were captivating, complex, with sour cherry and berry pie aromas, herb, anise and a touch of loamy earth and sage. The fruit was still lively, sweet, rich and elegant, ending with a nice tannic edge. I thought this wine had the goods to go longer and it has, surpassing my expectations—a satisfying bottle at 94 points, non-blind. members: Read the original tasting note for Beringer Merlot Howell Mountain Bancroft Ranch 1987 (91 points, $29 on release)

• Find more scores and tasting notes for recently rated Napa Merlots, plus our quick list of Easy Finds among California reds.

Would you like to comment?

Want to join or start a discussion? Become a member and you can!

To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. To learn more about member benefits, take our site tour.


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories