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Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley
Cost: $27-30
F ranciscan Estate has a well-deserved reputation for small-lot winemaking that produces incredible wine.
With 160 fermenters in the winery, the winemakers are free to pick each small lot in a vineyard and ferment it separately. Then they pick the best lots to blend in the finished product.
Each year they take more than 200 separate lots of Bordeaux varietals and blend them during 18 months of barrel aging. It is exacting and time-consuming work, but wine drinkers reap the benefits. Each lot produces flavor differences–some vast, some subtle–from the same grapes depending on soil and microclimate.
The 2013 cabernet sauvignon is another great one for Franciscan. The wine is a beautiful deep garnet in the glass with a lively, complex nose that features plum, blackberry and vanilla.
Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Cherries and cassis are the first flavors you get as you sip, but those are followed by layers of ripe berries, black pepper and spice. The long, velvety finish makes you want to take sip after sip. It is a thoroughly enjoyable wine.
This is a wine you want to decant 30-60 minutes before you drink it to allow the flavors to unfold. Think of the wine as a living organism. When you release it from the tightly closed bottle you need to give it time to revive, to breathe.
The grapes are a Bordeaux style blend of 83 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent merlot, 3 percent malbec, 3 percent petit verdot and 1 percent syrah.
Before fermentation the grapes undergo a cold soak for four days followed by 22 days of maceration and fermentation. The wine then spends 20 months in small oak barrels, 20 percent new.
You can cellar this wine for at least 3-5 years, allowing the tannins to mellow out. It drinks well now, but will only get better over the next few years.
Winery: Franciscan Estate is in the heart of Napa Valley in the Oakville region, prime cabernet sauvignon territory. The estate is tucked into an area full of vineyards for legendary wineries, such as Silver Oak, Screaming Eagle, Joseph Phelps, Groth, Opus One and Rudd.
The first vines were planted in 1972 and the winery was created the next year. The first Oakville Estate wines were produced in 1975, the year Justin Meyer and Raymond Duncan bought the property.
Meyer, the founding winemaker, concentrated on small-lot winemaking, letting each lot of grapes express its unique soil and climate. The winery introduced several innovations over the years.
Janet Myers, named director of winemaking in 2005, continues that tradition of finding just the right blend of small-lot wines to produce memorable wines.
In 1985 Agustin Huneeus introduced Magnificat, a proprietary blend of Bordeaux varietals that came to be known as Meritage. (It rhymes with heritage.) Now many California wineries produce a Meritage.
Cuvee Sauvage, the first Napa Valley chardonnay fermented with wild yeast, was introduced two years later. In 2009 Franciscan was awarded Napa Green Certification and practices sustainable farming on all its properties.
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In the original Oakville vineyard Franciscan grows cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. merlot and mhardonnay mostly come from the cooler southern Napa and Carneros vineyards. Franciscan also makes three special blends available only at the winery.
The winery has worked be be more environmentally friendly and to cut down on energy use. They say their efforts have led to a 15 per cent decline in water consumption, an energy reduction of 15 per cent, and cut gas usage by 22 per cent. The winery also is certified as Napa Green, which is the wine industry’s most comprehensive “best practices” in land-use and wine production certification.
In the vineyard the winery has created a water reservoir that also serves as habitat for native flora and fauna. They have reduced the use of pesticides by bringing in plants that attract beneficial insects. They also use owl, raptor, bluebird, and bat houses to control vermin.
My son Michael enjoyed the wine with the vegetable soup.
My son Michael enjoyed the wine with the vegetable soup.

Goes with: We had this smooth wine with homemade beef vegetable soup that I have enjoyed all my life. The soup has all kinds of vegetables, so it is better with a wine that has some complexity.
The Franciscan cab hit all the right notes, as the complex fruit flavors played off the multiple flavors in the soup. The soup is one of my comfort foods, and this cab added a lot of pizzaz to the meal. Teri, Michael and I all loved the way the wine played off the flavors in the soup.
This is a versatile wine that would go well with pizza, veal, lamb, steak and hard cheeses.

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