Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Improves My Winter Doldrums

It’s January.  In Iowa.
The sun brings light for a mere nine hours each day.
We all trudge back and forth to our jobs in the dark, both going-to and coming home.  Our lowest temperature here so far this month was -17F with -41F wind chills. This most recent cold snap was SO cold the Weather Channel had to make up a name for it.  The “polar vortex”, was their apt designation.

The relentless cold and dark had me craving dark red wines with some serious muscle.  It’s no surprise then, I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon for my number one wine for the month.

My choice, the Beringer Knights Valley 2011 is a Cabernet to get excited about! Knights Valleyis a Viticulture Area in Sonoma Countytucked up near the lofty Mt. St. Helena.  It is Sonoma’s easternmost, furthest away from the Pacific influence, and therefore warmest wine region.  The very warm daytime temperatures, together with cool nighttime temperatures are ideal for growing grapes with fully ripened fruit, and a balance of acidity.


My wine journal notes on this wine go on and on, and are peppered with exclamation points!  The aromas are intense, full of ripe, juicy blackberry, plum and currant.  Savory dried herbs are present too, as well as toasted oak, cigar box, graphite, and notes of brown sugar.  WOW!

The palate is smooth and holds layers of ripe, dark berry flavors, plum, dried herbs and leather.  The wine’s lengthy finish includes pleasant tannins and spices.

Complex, intense, well-balanced, yet this Cabernet is still very youthful.  Decanting is a good idea, but the wine is very drinkable without so doing.

Since I’m all mopey about the dark winter, I decided to throw some chocolate into the wine experience.  Chocolate makes everything better, right? Although there is much written about the romantic joining of wine and chocolate, it is just not that simple.  A decadent milk chocolate clashes terribly with a big, tannic red wine.

I chose the Zoet (loosely rhymes with hoot) 85% Extra Dark Premium Belgian Chocolate bar. 

It is full of dark cocoa flavor, just on the edge of bitter, with only a hint of sweetness.  The bitter edge actually allowed the wine’s fruit to shine through while the tannins in the wine blended nicely with the dark cocoa flavor.

Well okay.  My dark Iowawinter was improved a smidge by this fantastic Beringer Cabernet and the splurge of rich, dark Belgian chocolate.  Maybe, just maybe, my winter doldrums have been lifted!


About the author: Sue Navratil

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