Two to toast: Beringer Zinfandel and Stags Leap Chardonnay
Beringer and Stags Leap are two of the best-known vineyards of Napa Valley. Dhiman Chattopadhyay sips the Beringer Zinfandel and the Stags Leap Chardonnay two new (and expensive) entrants to the Indian market and comes away impressed
The label in front tells me it’s a 2003 Beringer Founders’ Estate Zinfandel. Google enhances my knowledge: for the 2003 vintage of this fine Napa Valley wine, a majority of the grapes came from 25 year-old, head-pruned vineyards in California’s northern coastal and Lake County wine-growing districts.
The Berigner is one of Napa Valley’s big names and their zinfandel comes with a reputation. So when Treasury Wines that handles over 50 wine brands from across the world tells us that they are bringing the wine label to India with the help of Aspri Spirits, we cant help but try out this much talked about vintage.
We don’t claim to be masters of wine or even sommeliers, but we do know a good wine when we sniff one. The Beringer Zinfandel’s aroma, which one gets at the first gentle sniff, fills our senses with the smell of clove, white pepper and black fruit aromas. It’s a deep breath worth taking, even if you’re no yoga buff.
Still, we take a cautious first sip. And happiness spreads its wings. This is a real smooth red with an aftertaste of blackberry and a mild hint of spice. It helps that a stiff breeze is blowing in straight from the sea and that we are sitting at home poking a fork into a well-done lamb steak. Bliss.
But back to the Zinfandel. This red, we get to know, is from really ripe grapes, which lend the wine a distinct sweetness. Seven months of ageing in American oak barrels helped the wine’s components integrate. After ageing, they were blended a small amount of Petite Syrah to add complexity.
This is of course not the only label Treasury and Aspri have brought in. The Stag’s Leap is a personal favourite and we do manage to get hold of a 2011 Chardonnay at a friend’s place. Chilled and served with a plate of Indian snacks (deep-fried pakodas to be precise), it pairs surprisingly well.
The aromas are unmistakably lemon and there’s a hint of green apple on the palate. It’s a chardonnay so it is fresh and has a lively acidity. But we love the smoothness of this one too. At just over Rs 3,000, this is a wine you won’t be opening unless it’s a special occasion or unless you are feeling particularly flush. But when you do open either the Beringer Zinfandel or the Stags Leap Chardonnay, it promises to open up happy feelings too.
Stags Leap Chardonnay, Rs 4,846
Berigner Founders Estate Zinfandel, Rs 2,995 (prices in Mumbai)