THANKS TO THE Manchester's American-Canadian Genealogical Society, founded in 1973 to foster study of the ancestral origins of Americans of French-Canadian, and, ultimately, French origin, I know that a few Beauregards left Isere in eastern France in the mid-1600s and made their way to the New World (Canada), and that some of them eventually headed south for the United States.
Many of the Beauregards in this country are descended from them, so chances are that when I come across the name, they may be at least a distant relation.
I wondered about this when I received an email from the Beauregards of California a few weeks ago — the owners of Beauregard vineyards, that is. It is their wine we are talking about today.
The Santa Cruz Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area — a designation that is our answer to places like Bordaeux, Burgundy and the Mosel Valley in Europe) is south of San Francisco. A little farther south still is the Ben Lomond Mountain AVA, located on the western edge of the Santa Cruz mountains between San Francisco Bay to the north and Monterey Bay to the south.
There have been vineyard plantings there since the middle of the 19th century. The region became known for Pinot Noir production in the 1970s. Vines are planted some 2,600 feet above sea level (when it's too warm on the ground, go up, as every South American vintner knows), where the vines get plenty of sunlight. The ocean and altitude produce a relatively cool climate for grape growing, and the California growing season is long, giving grapes plenty of time to ripen.
The Ben Lomond AVA is home to Beauregard Vineyards, where in 1949, retired deputy Sheriff Amos Beauregard planted 13 acres of vines, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. His son, Emmit, farmed the land while also managing the family store, the Shoppers' Corner Grocery Store in Santa Cruz. Today, his son, Jim Beauregard, and Jim's son, Ryan, work 68 acres of vineyards on three sites. Their goal, they write, is "to sustainably produce wines ...of the Santa Cruz Mountains through minimal-impact wine making.
They have taken much from old-world wine making, fermenting with native yeast (meaning yeast present in the vineyard and cellar) and barrel aging in American Oak on lees.
The Beauregards farm three vineyards. The Bald Mountain vineyard, planted in 1990 is 40 acres at 1,050 feet above sea level, facing southwest, maximizing sun exposure. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are planted here. Nora's Vineyard is all Pinot Noir, 17 acres at 1,300 feet. Lastly, the Beauregard Ranch vineyard was originally vineyard and apple orchard, planted in the 1990s as well, 1700-plus feet above the Pacific, and is home to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and four acres of Cabernet Sauvignon.
So, let's see what these altitudes yield:Beauregard 2011 Chardonnay, Ben Lomond Mountain, $27, 12.4% abv. A golden Chard with white fruit and stone fruit initially. Dry, with much more acidity than is typically present in this grape, fine grained, drying tannin, medium body and medium flavor intensity and flavors of citrus with lemon and hints of grapefruit, melon, peach, butter, and a hint of tropical fruit (banana). Oak in the background balancing off the fruit with hints of vanilla. Long finish, very good quality, and ready to drink. 89 pts.
Beauregard 2012 Saignee of Pinot Noir, Ben Lomond Mountain, $35, 13.5% abv. Saignee means bleeding, that is taking some of the juice out of the fermentation to concentrate flavors and color. Here they have done it with Pinot Noir, producing a rose that is salmon-colored, vibrant, with light red fruit on the nose. The palate is where the classic Pinot Noir flavors come forth, predominantly strawberry, with a hint too of cotton candy, and a raspberry background. It's dry, with good acidity, light tannin, fine grained and ripe, of medium body, with balanced alcohol. The flavors are of medium-plus intensity, with a long finish. 90 pts. Chill ever so slightly for a summer night. The word from my wife: "I love this. It's not sweet and gooey. I could drink this on the deck all night." Your writer agrees.
Beauregard 2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz AVA, $40, 12.5% abv. Purple leaning very much toward ruby, medium intensity, with thick tears. Fruit forward, with rich dark raspberry that is so classic for the varietal. Still youthful on the nose. Dry palate, with good acidity, light tannin typical of the varietal, medium alcohol, medium-plus body, with a very nice mouth feel, and some good weight that does not tip out of balance, medium-plus flavor intensity of raspberry, mineralogy and hints of spice, also a long finish. Good balance, complexity, and length and typicity. 91pts. Prime Rib.
Beauregard 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ben Lomond Mountain. $55, 14.2% abv, aged 41 months in 100% new American Oak. Purple, black at the deep core, pencil shavings come through on the nose right away. Thick, fast tears. Dry, of medium acidity, with good, balanced tannin, medium body for the Cabernet Sauvignon world, medium-plus flavor intensity of graphite, black fruit, including blackberry, a little black currant. Good balance of components, good length, good complexity, which stays constant rather than developing, and a long finish. Ready for drinking now. 89 pts.
I don't see these wines listed in the state stores, but they can be ordered from the vineyard, at beauregardvineayrds.com.Wine event: NH Liquor Commission's Summer Fun Tour launches this week for the second year. By shopping at the New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets you can enter to win a number of prizes, which include a Harley-Davidson Sportster, a trip to Puerto Rico and a VIP tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory (they are one of the sponsors, along with the Horizon Beverage Co.), an all-expense paid trip to Sonoma to tour the Coppola Winery, an ultimate golfers' experience at the Deutsche Bank Classic at TPC Boston, and a rest and recreation package at the Omni Mount Washington Resort. The tour schedule and prizes are available at LiquorandWineOutlets.com/SummerFunTour.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh.com.