Sunday, May 11, 2014

Back to the Monastery -- Franciscan Cab Redux

About a year and a half ago, I had a chance to try Franciscan Estate's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't expect you to have the review memorized or anything like that, so here's a refresher to make it easy on you. Bottom line, the 2010 vintage turned out to be a really good bottle of wine, so I was pretty excited when Nicole from R/West PR had the wine fairy send me a bottle of the 2011.

In general, larger producers are generally able to create consistent results from year to year, but there's always room for variety from vintage to vintage. Comparing the tasting notes from this year to last, it looks like the folks at Franciscan changed up the blend a bit, replacing the small amount of malbec in the 2010 blend with petit verdot and cabernet franc. (Remember, a U.S. Cabernet Sauvignon has to be at least 75% cabernet sauvignon to be labeled as such. The rest of the blend is up to the winemakers.) I wondered if that change might have an effect on the overall flavor.

In short, it did. The Franciscan Estate 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is somewhat different from last year's offering. This year’s nose has some of the same plum and herbal characteristics as last years, but there's also a roasted meat or bacony aroma. This year's wine feels a little alcoholically "hotter" than last year’s as well, but there's not an increase in the actual alcohol content. Regardless, it’s not too powerful a cab. I found plenty of plum and cocoa flavors bouncing around on the palate, and the finish is smoothly tannic with some lingering fruit and spice.

All in all, I think the 2011 vintage is still a good bottle of wine -- but I think it lacks some of the finesse that I enjoyed so much with last year's offering. It's still reasonably priced at $28 for a quality wine, but if you can still find the 2010 lying around, that would be my choice.

No comments: