As a surfer, Santa Cruz was a religious pilgrimage. As a wine lover, the Santa Cruz Mountains wines are also awe-inducing. The entire region is a freak of raw nature. The waves are gnarly, the water and winds cold, the mountains steep. But this leads to a maze of soils and microclimates perfect for all sorts of wine grapes. Santa Cruz Mountain wines, combining higher elevation with the cold and fog from the Pacific Ocean, are known and loved for their combination of tremendous freshness, complexity, and structure for aging. Sure, there is plenty of juicy and delicious fruit, but these vibrant wines offer something for pretty much every kind of palate.
I recently tasted through a host of wines from Beauregard Vineyards, wines that remind me why I love this region. Beauregard is old school Santa Cruz royalty. The estate dates back to 1945, when Deputy Sheriff Amos Beauregard bought a dozen acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Zinfandel vines in Bonny Doon. This southwest slope sits at 1,700 to 1,850 feet in elevation and was first planted to grapevines in 1880.
Jim Beauregard, Amos’ grandson, was pivotal in the establishment of the Ben Lemond Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA), in 1983. He forged a reputation for his wines and their site-specific nature. Today, fourth-generation winemaker Ryan Beauregard holds the reins. And, as this tasting demonstrated, the future of Santa Cruz Mountain wines is in very good hands.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2013 Beauregard Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Medium gold color. Incredible aromatics of lemon curd, lime juice, chalk dust, pizza dough, floral perfume. Pristine and clean on the palate with bracing acidity, but that’s balanced out by lots of fruit (white peach, lime, honeydew). Chalk dust, lots of sea salt raw almond, green tea, toasted baguette, I even get some notes of cinnamon, ginger and white pepper, which add an interesting mix. Long, mineral-encrusted finish. Such a pretty wine, and so crisp, an intriguing California sparkler. All Chardonnay, no dosage, disgorged January 2017. (92 points IJB)
2014 Beauregard Vineyards Pinot Gris Orange Wine Regan Vineyards - California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark copper/light watermelon color. Fascinating notes: lemon curd, sour cherries, red apple peel, honeycomb, dried apricot, a bit of sea brine — almost like an old world Chenin or some Jura characteristics. Awesome. Light bodied at just under 12% but lots going on here. Waxy texture, brisk acidity, a streak of saline and mineral qualities, along with white cherries, wild strawberries, mixed with honey and herbal tea elements. Fascinating but so delicious. (90 points IJB)
2015 Beauregard Vineyards Chardonnay Bald Mountain Vineyard - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Light yellow color. Chablis-like in its extreme freshness, lemon/lime explosion, and lots of saline and mineral notes, but also some white tea and honey notes. Medium-bodied but shows plenty of power, while brisk acidity keeps this graceful. White peach, drizzled with lime, the fruit is topped in white tea, honeysuckle, chalk dust, crushed shells, hints of almond and nougat. Finishes vibrant, crisp and pretty. A gorgeous Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay that should improve in the cellar for sure. (93 points IJB)
2015 Beauregard Vineyards Chardonnay Beauregard Ranch - California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains, Ben Lemond Mountain
Medium yellow color. Bright and fresh and pure on the nose with pretty lemons, yellow apples, peaches, topped with honeycomb, floral perfume, chalk dust, lots going on here. Clean, clear, pretty with precise acidity on a medium-bodied frame. Fresh limes mix with white peach and creamy yellow apple, the fruit is mixed with chalk dust, minerals and mountain stream freshness. A delicious, electric and pristine Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay. (93 points IJB)
2014 Beauregard Vineyards Pinot Noir Coast Grade Vineyard - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Light ruby color. Bursts with juicy cherries, raspberries, strawberry, along with herbal tea, pepper, roses, rhubarb — wow! Medium-bodied (13.7%) with structured but accessible tannins, crisp acidity. The fruit is ripe but brisk (cherry, red apple, strawberry) and laced with rhubarb, white pepper, roses, complex earthy and clove elements. Packed with flavor but elegant as well. Wow, this is a striking, delicious and enthralling Pinot Noir. (93 points IJB)
2014 Beauregard Vineyards Pinot Noir Beauregard Ranch - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Light ruby color. Gorgeous aromatic display: red rose, raspberry leaf, white pepper, rhubarb and clove on top of tart raspberries, strawberries and cherries. Crisp acidity pervades this wine. Medium-bodied (12.9% alcohol) with dusty tannins that provide enough structure. Crisp raspberries, chilled strawberries, tart cherries, waves of pure fruit, laced with rose hips, white pepper, sage and rhubarb. So much going on here but it’s also so easy to drink and absolutely delicious. Wow. (94 points IJB)
2013 Beauregard Vineyards Syrah Zayante Vineyard - California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Light purple color. Dark and complex on the nose, needs air but has a lot to show: black cherry, tart black currant, laced with peppered bacon, dark earth, violets, and a saucy spice element. Medium+ bodied, this has a lot of tannic backbone but it’s not dense, it stays fresh with the acidity, shows a core of black cherry and dark currant fruit, juicy but vibrant, and lots of pepper, charcoal, mushroom and soy, clove and violet petals. Lots going on here, and it’ll do wonders with five or six years, I think. Aged in old French and 30% new American oak. (91 points IJB)
2013 Beauregard Vineyards Zinfandel Beauregard Ranch - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Medium ruby color. Surprisingly airy and floral, this is an elegant, aromatic Zinfandel but lots of fruit, too (juicy raspberries and black cherries), loaded with coffee, dark floral tones, sweet clove, a tobacco and eucalyptus note, hints of sweet coconut. Full-bodied but not fat or heavy at all, the tannins provide silky structure and the acidity is gorgeous in its vibrancy. Tart raspberries mix with juicy black cherries, and I get notes of coffee grounds, cola, coconut, with savory herbs and spice tones. An elegant and refined Zin that is delicious now but should do wonders in the cellar. Aged in 50% new American oak. (91+ points IJB)
2013 Beauregard Vineyards Merlot Zayante Vineyard - California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Deep ruby color. Very pretty aromas of fresh red plums, juicy currants, some black cherry, this shows lots of floral and sweet herbal notes as well. On the palate this is fresh and vibrant, but shows structured tannins, matched with crisp acidity. The fruit is ripe and tangy and red, and laced with tobacco, rose petal, potting soil and pepper, touched with a bit of clove and coffee. Beautiful stuff now but this will turn even more elegant and expressive over the next five to eight years. From a SW-facing slope planted in 1988, sits between 1,100 and 1,300 feet. Aged in 40% new American oak. (92 points IJB)
2013 Beauregard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Beauregard Ranch - California, San Francisco Bay, Ben Lomond Mountain
Medium purple color. Aromas of saucy currants and back cherries, along with graphite, tobacco and vanilla notes. Well-built on the palate with some solid grip to the tannins but fresh acidity keeps it vibrant. Interesting mix of fruit (tart blueberry, black cherry, red currant), and the fruit is laced with notes of violets, loamy soil, sage, roasted chestnut and graphite. Integrated elements of roasted coffee and vanilla. Richly flavorful, deep in structure, but also impressive in its freshness. This should age wonderfully for at least a decade. Aged 32 months in 40% new French oak. (92 points IJB)