Red Blend • Marinus Estate Vineyard
California: Carmel Valley
What we say
ALERT! Today’s wine was so popular the first time we featured it that our Operatives begged us to bring it back for a day. This is the last time that we will feature this vintage of Bernardus’ fantastic signature wine, Marinus. We only got our spy hands on a limited allocation, for a lower price this time, so please be sure to pick some up before we run out.
Mission Codename: The Lap of Luxury
Operative: Agent Pinot
Personal Objective: Enjoy a day off at the Bernardus Lodge, taste their wines
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Bernardus
Wine Subject: 2002 Marinus
Winemaker: Dean de Korth and Matthew Shea
Agent Pinot Personal Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark plum with ruby highlights
Smell – Blueberry, blackberry and cherry dominate the nose, with hints of sweet oak and plum
Feel – Big in the mouth, with great complexity and tannins that excite and invite without drying
Taste – Deliciously ripe dark-fruit flavored, with jammy black cherry, blackberry, oak and the slightest hint of spice
Finish – Big finish with strong and long-lasting flavors that taper off slowly
Conclusion – This is a great, elegant and luxurious wine that drinks like a $75 bottle. I love this wine very much and I have cellared a case for myself. I enjoy it as a drink-by-itself luxury or as a perfect complement to a fabulous meal with friends and family.
Agent Pinot Private Journal:Other Agents think I’m self-centered and narcissistic. They can think what they want. I just happen to be the best agent in the Wine Spies and that’s that. When I decide its time for a vacation, I take one – but tell Central Command that I’m on a mission. Its easy to fake it when my vacation takes me to the Bernardus Lodge in the beautiful Carmel Valley in Monterey County, California.
Bernardus runs this luxurious lodge, but they are, perhaps, even more famous for their award-winning wines. Bernardus Winery makes exquisite estate grown wines from grapes grown on their estate in Upper Carmel Valley. Their founding mission was to create wines that rivaled the finest French Bordeaux, wines that “flatter the palate and stimulate the imagination”. I say, Mission accomplished!
My first taste of Bernardus Marinus (pronounced mah-ree-nus) came a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with its complexity and its full flavors. When considering a spot for my secret getaway, my choice was easy: Stay at the Bernardus Lodge, realx and drink Marinus. Lot’s and lot’s of it.
On arrival at the Bernardus Lodge, I entered through the front gate. Following the drive toward the lodge, perfect vineyards slope gently away. The main building of the lodge looming into view, I feel instantly relaxed. I know that my stay here will be filled with luxury, great food and better wine.
I won’t drone on and on about the feather bed, the fireplace or the oversize bathtub in my two-room suite, my daily massages, games of tennis near the vineyards or the fine meals had in their 4-star restaurant, Marinus. Suffice to say, after long days of being pampered and evenings spent sipping their incredible wines, I am revitalized.
The 2002 Marinus is a masterpiece and while I was there, I did manage to get my hands on a few cases. Central Command should be pleased with me.
Agent Pinot Satellite Recon:
For my own personal reference, the location of the Bernardus Lodge can be seen in this satellite photo
The tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo
And the Cachagua valley where the grapes are grown can be seen in this satellite photo
Technical Wine Analysis
Appellation: Carmel Valley, Monterey County, California
Winemakers: Dean de Korth and Matthew Shea
65% Cabernet Sauvignon
3% Cabernet Franc
3% Petit Verdot
What the winery says
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About This Wine:
The Marinus Vineyard in upper Carmel Valley is planted with a blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties in separate blocks. These areas were identified as having distinct terroirs. Different planting and growing strategies are used with each block to develop components for blending in the final wine.
The 2002 growing season was warm and sunny, but without any of our notorious and dreaded autumn heat-spikes, so Vintners were able to choose their picking days based on perfect ripeness levels. This provided us with an excellent balance of both ripe and bright fruit flavors. As always, our Marinus Vineyard was harvested block-by-block, varietal by varietal, according to ripening patterns over a four-week period. This growing season enabled the grapes to fully ripen with round tannins and moderate alcohol levels.
The winery uses the traditional Bordelais method of destemming prior to fermentation and pumping over the tanks two to three times a day. Macerations last from ten to thirty days depending on the character of the grapes. After completing malolactic fermentation the new wine is transferred into small French oak barrels for sixteen months of aging. One half of the barrels are new oak to add dimensions of flavor and texture while respecting the character of the fruit. Complexity and balance of the wine is enhanced by the multiple lots from the different vineyard blocks. The last months before bottling the final blend is held in large oak upright tanks to encourage the integration of flavors.
About Bernardus Winery:
Owner Ben Pon appreciates wine as an art – a form of art that transcends the ordinary. His dream with Bernardus is to make a red wine equal to the finest from Bordeaux. To achieve this purpose, Ben, a Dutchman who could have planted vineyards anywhere in the world, has chosen the Carmel Valley for his estate vineyards and winery. Since the early 1970’s, there has been a growing awareness of the outstanding potential for Bordeaux varieties from this new viticultural appellation. The Bernardus estate vineyards of Marinus and Featherbow Ranch are located in the Cachagua region of the Carmel Valley. We have been told that Cachagua is the Spanish word Native Americans used for deep or hidden water. It has been said that Native Americans believed that all things in nature were sacred and interrelated. Their respect for balance in nature is carried on in the vineyards of Bernardus. More than 300 live oaks have been preserved to thrive among carefully planted vines.
Of the 220 acres, 50 acres have been planted to vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Bernardus ventures forth as the fifth winery to establish vineyards in this sacred valley. While growing Bordeaux-style varieties in our estate vineyards, at Bernardus we are committed to cultivating Chardonnay in cool coastal climates, specifically the Monterey County growing region. Grapes from other superior coastal appellations in California are used to add nuances to the Bernardus blend. The vineyard components are then complemented by many different yeasts and oaks during the winemaking procedure.
Winemaker Dean DeKorth integrates his experience working with the methods and practices of Bernardus winemaking with his own personal intuition and technical expertise. Dean DeKorth, an American, is a French winemaker—all of his early impressions about wine came from his education and apprenticeship in France. A very important part of Dean’s Burgundian training was focused on distinguishing aromas and flavor qualities, as well as textural elements in the wine. With this old-world sense of taste, Dean seeks to make wines that flatter the palate. A viticulturalist, enologist, scholar, craftsman, and artist, Dean KeKorth brings to his winemaking a time-honored knowledge of wine and an endless passion – a passion labeled Bernardus.
At Bernardus the textural element-"the mouth feel’-is the most important expression of wine.
At a time when there is an increasing conversion of established French wine estates from seasoned wooden tanks to rows of stainless steel, Bernardus Winery was constructed to create traditional wines. Wines are aged in oak tanks and barrels specially crafted for Bernardus in the French region of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Oak is purchased from many coopers in France to allow for blending of different flavors, or “the spice rack approach”.
It is the goal of Ben Pon to create wines from the promising viticultural region of Carmel Valley that will rival in style and quality the finest traditional wines. With an unequaled commitment and the resources and talent to support this commitment, Bernardus is embarking upon the next frontier in American winemaking.