Grape: 100% Zinfandel
Location: Sonoma County, California
Owner: Copper Cane Wines and Provisions
Winemakers: John Lopez and Joseph Wagner
Approximate Retail Price: $22
Color: Deep ruby with hints of burgundy
Aroma: Lush, ripe berry fruits, cocoa, spices and a hint of earth
Taste: A well-balanced zinfandel; good, strong dark fruit on the palate, with rich spices of pepper, nutmeg and cocoa, moderately strong tannins and a long finish
[DROPCAP] In 1972, Charlie Wagner and his son, Chuck, started a little winery by the name of Caymus Vineyards that made cabernet sauvignon. As early as 1973, Caymus had already earned its place on the map as a top wine producer, with its 1984 and 1990 vintages being honored with the Top Wine of the Year Award by Wine Spectator. Caymus remains the only winery to earn this honor twice.
Over the years, three of Chuck Wagner’s four children joined him in winemaking and began to expand winemaking to other varietals under other labels. The first, Conundrum, a white field blend, exploded in popularity. Chuck Wagner’s eldest, Charlie, currently oversees the Conundrum label, as well as Mer Soleil, and produces chardonnay and pinot noir out of the Santa Lucia Highlands. His daughter Jenny produces Emmolo merlot and sauvignon blanc out of Napa Valley. His other son, Joseph, started the Belle Glos label, making single-vineyard pinot noirs from distinctly different regions. He also created Meiomi pinot noir, a modestly priced California blend, which grew so popular its production soared into the millions. Together, all the wineries came to be known as Wagner Family Wines, a true family legacy.
Joseph Wagner eventually sold the Meiomi label for $315 million and started his own wine business, Copper Cane Wine and Provisions, separate from the umbrella of the Caymus empire. Under Copper Cane, Joe Wagner continues to make Belle Glos pinot noirs and has started other labels in the same tradition as Caymus of one varietal, one label. Elouan showcases his Oregon pinot noir and chardonnay. Quilt constitutes his Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, with Steorra his sparkling label out of Russian River Valley. Finally, Beran boasts zinfandel from both Napa Valley and Sonoma.
Since its debut in 2013, the Beran Sonoma County zinfandel has maintained a reputation for big-bodied, heavily fruity, rich, velvety-textured wine. This zinfandel is not for the meek; it definitely represents the more robust virtues of this varietal. That said, the 2017 vintage actually tastes a little lighter and costs less than its previous vintages. Though it still maintains its quality and taste, the price reduction makes it a perfect treat to carry by the glass.
Food Pairings: Accompany this wine with barbecue (the Beran website actually recommends St. Louis-style ribs), charcuterie, spicy tomato sauce like amatriciana, blue cheeses and duck.
Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.