It's always more fun to root against the Big Guys, especially when it comes to wine. That sweet little boutique winery tucked away on some back-country road in Napa or Sonoma has a lot more cachet than a megagiant wine processing plant that looks like an oil refinery and is owned by an even more megagiant corporation whose CEO has probably never, ever gotten shit on his shoes by walking the rows through his vineyard.
On the other hand, you can't argue with what's in the glass, and though Beringer Vineyards is about as megagiant as you can get (one of more than 60 wineries owned by Australia's Foster's Group), the 2007 Beringer California Cabernet Sauvignon delivers a respectable taste of California Cab for around $11.
Now, we're not talking Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate or even
Beringer's own Private Reserve or Knight's Valley wines. But, to my
palate at least, where most cheap California Cabs taste like somebody
mixed a jar of Welch's with grain alcohol and seasoned it with oak
shavings, the low-rent Beringer actually shows a little restraint. It
starts off with a bit of an earthy nose, with some cherry fruit and
hints of coffee, then in the mouth it's a nice balance of ripe fruit,
toasty oak, and sweet spice, with maybe a touch of vanilla thrown in.
of it as the vinous equivalent of a burger or spaghetti 'n' meatballs
(which it would pair well with, thank you very much) -- a simple but
pleasing wine that gets the job done for a reasonable amount of coin.
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It's available just about everywhere too; you could practically trip
over it at your local supermarket. And with the money you save, in
another 15 or 20 years, you might actually be able to afford a bottle
of Harlan Estate.