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Professional Ratings: 95 The Wine Advocate, 94 International Wine Cellar, 92 Wine & Spirits, 91 Connoisseurs' Guide, 90 Wine Enthusiast
Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Other Info: Collectible Wines
Style: Big & Bold
Alcohol By Volume: 14.2%
Item no. 87529
Generally cool temperatures continued through most of the summer, resulting in well-developed flavors in the fruit. Aromas of cassis, black cherry, cedar and dark chocolate transition to rich expressions of black fruit, vanilla and brown spices on the palate as ripe supple tannins linger throughout the extracted and long finish.
Put them all together and you have the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, a sensational 14,000-case cuvee that is one of the benchmarks for what Napa Valley is capable of achieving. Its dense purple color is followed by copious notes of smoky barbecue, creme de cassis, white chocolate, blackberries, charcoal and truffles. Full-bodied, fleshy and succulent, with sweet tannins in the finish, this 2002 has not yet hit full maturity. Give it another 2-4 years of cellaring, and drink it over the following two decades. I asked the winemaking team what the final blend was for the 2002 Private Reserve, and to the best of their recollection, the largest component was from Steinhauer Ranch (50%), followed by St. Helena Home Ranch (23%) and tiny percentages of Bancroft, Rancho del Oso, Chabot, Marston, and some Cabernet Franc from Howell Mountain.
Good full ruby-red. Sexy aromas of currant and dark chocolate. Compellingly sweet and densely packed, with lovely vinosity giving shape to the flavors of dark berries, cedar and minerals. Very fine-grained and very long on the palate, with the tannins perfectly buffered by the wine's material. This wine, mostly from Steinhauer and St. Helena fruit, went into the barrel in January of 2003 and remained there for two years, undisturbed except for a monthly topping-up. Has the balance to offer considerable early appeal, but this bottling has a long track record for aging gracefully in bottle and surprising with its longevity.
Ed Sbragia blends this wine from a selection of vineyards primarily on Howell Mountain and closer to the winery in St. Helena. On their own, these vineyards produce distinctive and ageworthy cabernets; Sbragia's selections of Chabot, Marston and Bancroft are among the top wines in the valley. The Private Reserve often blends away some of those distinctions, emphasizing winemaking style instead. To me, it often tastes like a well-heeled wine, glossy and easy to appreciate. This vintage goes beyond those straightforward charms. It starts off warm and fat, with spicy red berry flavors and a touch of bitterness in the tannin, then air begins to meld the fruit and structure, bringing complexity and a meaty richness. Check on it in ten years.
Here is a big, beautifully ripened, definitively varietal opus that is brimming with deep, well-extracted fruit and decked out with a full measure of very sweet oak. Its precise focus and its wholly impeccable balance place it at the forefront of the pack, and it never once hints at heaviness or heat. While fairly tannic, it is not in the least tough, and its essential juiciness perseveres to the end. Those with a taste for young Cabernet will find lots to like even now, but the real beauty of this compelling wine will only emerge with five years of time.
Huge wine, young and tannic, almost bitter now and not offering much relief. But of course you don’t buy Beringer PR tonight. There is indeed enormous Cabernet flavor deep down inside, offering oodles of blackberries and cherries and charry new oak, but there’s also a warning note of prune.