Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Franciscan Estates

Franciscan Estates is a well-known Napa Valley winery that offers some especially affordable premium wines. It was established in 1973 and is owned by Constellation Brands, the same company that now owns Robert Mondavi.  Constellation Brands is the largest wine producer in the world, owning 40 production buildings and 100 brands of wine, beer and spirits.  They are located on St. Helena Highway north of Rutherford Cross Rd. and the setting is picturesque and quaint. At the time of our visit the classic tasting was $15 with one fee being waved with each $100 purchase. They are in the Napa Neighbor Program and also have a wine club that offers 30% discounts

Our first taste was the Franciscan 2009 Chardonnay ($18) that had a nice nose with some apple and minerality on the palate.  It was well balanced and not too buttery with mostly apple and pear.  Very likeable. The Franciscan 2007 Merlot ($21) was rather light and fruity with some pepper and tobacco notes.  It was my least favorite of the four tastings we were offered. The Franciscan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($27) is 80% Cab, 12% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.  It had some cherry notes with nice soft tannins.  This is a nice cab for that price. Our favorite, though, was the Franciscan 2007 Magnificat ($50) which is a blend of 71% Cab, 26% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.  It had a nice aroma of black cherry.  On the palate I got black cherry, plum, vanilla and mocha.  It is a more interesting and complex Cab than the 2008 with smooth tannins and some age potential. We bought a bottle of the Chardonnay and the Magnificat.  Service was good.

Franciscan Estate Winery
1178 Galleron Lane
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-3993
Date of visit: November 2, 2011 

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