Monday, May 9, 2011

Franciscan Estate - A Napa Valley legacy

Franciscan Estate has a rich history reaching back three decades to when Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer open the doors.  Throughout these decades several winemakers have made their mark on the wines of Franciscan but all have remained true to the values set forth by the founders, to produce rich wines with vibrant flavors and full body depicting the heritage of Napa Valley.  Located in the heart of Napa Valley in the Oakville district, Franciscan’s 240 acre estate is rewarded with ideal soils combining the rocky debris from the surrounding mountains and the rich soils along the Napa River.  The warm days, plus the cool nights influenced by the nearby San Francisco Bay, result in extraordinary growing conditions for winegrapes.  The traditional Franciscan Estate production methods call for handcrafting the wine from hundreds of small lots that instill an estate style.

Winemaker Janet Myers experience also brings in this Napa Valley heritage with time at big Cabernet producers including Robert Mondavi, Beaulieu Vineyard, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Louis Martini.

Their new releases include the 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Napa Valley Chardonnay.  By 2009 Napa Valley had seen its third straight year of low rainfall and mild summers.  This allowed the grapes to mature slowly and develop ripe flavors.  The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc delivers what you expect, from the pale straw color to the bright citrus aromas and flavors that include lime zest, grapefruit and lemon blossom.  There is a touch of tropical flavors such as passion fruit, melon and guava.  The finish continues to deliver, making this a great summer white to share with friends.  Winemaker Janet Myers states, “Sauvignon Blanc presents many stylistic possibilities and my quest was to take this wine on a little trip – the Loire meets New Zealand by way of Napa Valley.”   The price for this wine is only $17.

Napa Valley Chardonnay is known around the world and any producer strives to continue this legacy.  The 2009 Franciscan Estates Napa Valley Chardonnay meets those goals, delivering a wine that has many of the rich qualities you expect but without the heavy creaminess you might find in some Chardonnays.  There is a delightful crispness of this wine with a great blend of acid and flavors.  You will enjoy the aromas of Fuji apple, citrus and nectarine but with notes of a slight toast and vanilla.  On the palate these same flavors shine through with additional flavors of pear and honey.  It has an excellent moderate creamy mouthfeel with Crème Brule characters, minerality and softness that lingers on to the nice finish.  Winemaker Myers admires Chardonnay, stating, “Chardonnay is a passion for us here at Franciscan.  I believe that Chardonnay should be rich and round, but also vibrant and crisp, to pair well with food.”  The price is $18.

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