Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More from Carmel Valley: the wines of Bernardus Winery

On the second day of our trip to Carmel Valley, we visited the Bernardus tasting room.

Bernardus Pon is the owner of Bernardus Lodge & Winery. Born and raised in Holland, he moved to Carmel Valley with his wife Ingrid in the early nineties and bought a small winery there. Believing that the place could potentially make World class Bordeaux-style red wines, he created Marinus, a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Marinus is the winery's flagship wine with grapes coming from the Marinus Vineyard in the Carmel Valley appellation.

We actually had seen the Marinus vineyard earlier that day, as we were waiting for the tasting room to open. It was almost hidden among rolling hills, coast live oak woodlands, and horse ranches, at the end of a narrow and winding road in the remote and secluded Cachagua Valley. Todd Kenyon, who was born and raised on a adjoining ranch, manages the vineyard. He plants the vines with an average density three times what is typical in California and severely restricts irrigation during the growing season. Therefore, the vines are forced to perform under drought conditions and put all their energy into fruit development. They have smaller berries with more concentrated flavors.

Tasting notes:

2004 Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc Monterey County: 35 % is cool fermented in stainless steel tanks for freshness. Blended with 1% Sémillon. Pale yellow color, aromatic nose of citrus. On the palate, fresh, crisp and grassy. Great Summer wine.

2004 Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc Griva Vineyard: The Griva vineyard is located in a cool, windswept area of the Arroyo Seco appellation. Pale yellow color, citrus nose, more spices on the palate.

2003 Bernardus Chardonnay Monterey County: Light straw color, crisp, fresh, fruity style.

2001 Bernardus Chardonnay Griva Vineyard: Golden color, more intense nose, buttery and nutty on the palate.

2004 Bernardus Pinot Noir Monterey County: Purple color, sweet nose, fresh and peppery on the palate.

2001 Bernardus Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard: From the Santa Maria Valley appellation. Light ruby color, shy nose, some acidity on the palate, mature.

2003 Bernardus Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard: From the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation. Aromatic nose of cherry and vanilla. Rich flavors on the palate, intense finish.

2001 Bernardus Marinus Carmel Valley: Dark purple color, nice nose of blackcurrant, young and fruit-forward on the palate with some acidity on the finish.

1996 Bernardus Marinus Carmel Valley: The nose of a mature Bordeaux. Elegant and well balanced. Excellent.

1999 Bernardus Marinus Carmel Valley: In September 1999, just before the harvest, a devastating fire burned acres of local trees, and for sure, this wine is smoky!

Previously tasted:

• Talbott Vineyards

• Pelerin Wines

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