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NOVEMBER 01, 2006
Beringer 2002 Bancroft Ranch Merlot

Beringer A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to hop into the Beringer Winery Airstream that was tricked out and decorated by the editors of domino magazine. The Airstream is on a six-week tour in order to bring a little of Napa to urban masses. The day before the official Chicago stop, Beringer reps hosted members of the media and blogging community to enjoy select wine paired with food prepared by Beringer executive chef David Frakes.

I tasted four wines in all -- the '05 Sauvignon Blanc (light, herbaceous and tropical); the '04 Private Reserve Chardonnay (full bodied, buttery -- paired with amazing amaranth-encrusted shrimp in a curry sauce) and the '02 Private Reserve Cab (full bodied and more complex than a typical California Cab -- it reminded me of Cabs produced in Italy).

But the one I was most impressed with was the '02 Bancroft Ranch Merlot. Now, I know what you're thinking -- that merlot is passe and typical, but I have to tell you, it's coming back in vogue. This wine, produced at Beringer's vineyard up on Howell Mountain in Napa, was intricate and layered and was more tannic than most merlots. It had a deep purple color with a spicy palette and was lightly dry. The nose gave off essence of raisin and cherry but the taste is what got me. With hints of chocolate and a burst of dark berries, this wine is a winner.

If you're in LA this Sunday, the Airstream sets up shop at the West LA Farmers Market. Swing by for free wine and great food.

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