We've known Bernardus since the early 1980's. Back then we were taken by their white wines. Both the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc had a sweet spiciness that made them ideal as cocktail wines. The wines weren't actually sweet, at least no more than most from California; they just had maybe a nutmeg-like flavor that your mind associates with sweeter holiday fare. Maybe it's that quality that made you not want to mess these up by having them with a meal.
Whatever reds Bernardus marketed must not have impressed us back then or else those thoroughly enjoyable whites just overshadowed them. In the last twenty years though, it's the Bernardus reds that have come to the fore with the critics. We have sold them successfully for the past twenty years, including their luxury label, Marinus Estate Blend.
At their website Bernardus markets ten wines, four whites and six reds. A rose is pictured there but is apparently unavailable. During the holiday season we sold their Monterey Chardonnay, Griva Vineyard Monterey Sauvignon Blanc and Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. We wholeheartedly recommended them all; the whites based on our history with them and the red, because of the critical acclaim.
The Marinus Vineyard is a thirty-six acre hillside expanse over the Carmel Valley. It was established in 1990 at an elevation of 1,200 feet in soils of sand and clay. Twenty-five acres are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, nine in Merlot, and one each in Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The goal here is obviously to make Bordeaux in California. We will be stocking Marinus shortly.
So here's the Bernardus backstory: Bernardus Marinus Pons came to Carmel Valley from the Netherlands in the late 1970's. After purchasing what he thought would be a second home there, he became quite taken with the area and foresaw a Bordeaux-like wine industry for the region. His wealth came from his father who designed the Volkswagen Microbus and imported the first Beetles into this country. Relatedly, Pons' hobbies at the time included racing Porsches and skeet shooting, which he excelled at enough to be competitive in the 1972 Olympics.
Pons now owns only half of his winemaking operation with other Dutch interests buying in for the other half. His twenty-five year old winemaking team is led by chief wine maker Dean Dekorth who hails from Burgundy, France.