This is based on winery supplied samples



My comments

I’ve been a fan of the Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet based blends from Franciscan Estates for many years.  There were a few years the wines were good, but I felt they could have been a bit better.  The last few years, the overall quality has been improving, in my opinion.  This improvement seems to parallel the movement of Janet Myers to Director of Winemaking in August 2005.



Winery History

Founded in 1972, and purchased in 1975 by industry revolutionaries Justin Meyer and Raymond Duncan, Franciscan Estate’s rich history was born out of a strong devotion to small-lot winemaking and a pioneering spirit. These ideals have been a hallmark for who we are and guide us as we continue to craft world-class Napa Valley wines.




2011 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley



Wine info

Total production – 6,970 cases

Suggested retail price – $16.99


100% Sauvignon Blanc

100% stainless steel tank fermented with 50% skin contact

Alcohol – 13%


My comments

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been a fan of the red wines from Franciscan for many years, but this will be my first Sauvignon Blanc from them that I will taste.  To me, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blancs have been very hit or miss.  To me the better ones from the region have a nice citrus “bite” but maintain the uniquely Sauvignon Blanc herbal/cut grass element.  If either of these elements is too pronounced, the wine seems to be out of balance.



My tasting note

The wine is a pale yellow color with a very slight greenish tint.  The clean and fresh smelling nose has lemon and lime zest, minerals, grapefruit, fresh cut grass, lychee, and a touch of white pepper.  The wine is light to medium body, dry, and has crisp, citrusy acidity.  Lime and grapefruit flavors hit the palate initially, slowly giving way to a nice herbal element, lychee, and minerals.  On the backend the white pepper note from the nose slips in again adding a nice spicy element.  The wine has a nice lingering finish with the lime zest, herbal notes, and lychee slowly giving way to a touch of lingering grapefruit and minerals.  This would be a perfect wine for a nice light dinner on the deck or patio on a warm Summer day.  (91 pts)




2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley



Wine info

Total production – 117,000 cases

Suggested retail price – $28


85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Syrah, 1% Malbec


Alcohol – 13.5%


Pre-fermentation cold soak of four days, total fermentation and maceration time of 22 days.  Aged for 20 months in small oak barrels, 25% new.


Release date – August 2012



My comments

Franciscan Estate Cabs have always held a nice QPR niche when it came to Napa Valley Cabernets.  To me, Franciscan as well as Buehler offered nice Napa Valley Cabernets at exceptional price points.  Franciscan cabs generally have the quality to have with a nice weekend dinner, but at a price that won’t blow the budget if served with a good week night meal.



My tasting note

The wine was decanted for about two hours and followed most of the evening.  The aroma was outstanding and filled the room with cassis and crushed berries while sitting in the decanter.  The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The wine has cassis, plums, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, dried herbs, tobacco, spicy oak, and violets with hints of cherry and vanilla on the very pleasing nose.  This is medium bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and it has very nice acidity.  On the very sensuous palate the spicy berries lead the way with dried herbs and vanilla adding depth and cherries and dark chocolate providing an extra element on the back end.  The finish is of good length but as to be expected from such a young wine, it does show a touch of excess oak to go with the dark chocolate and fruit.  This is extremely young but very tasty.  I’m sure some cellar time will help the oak on the finish to integrate and for more complexity to shine through.  (92 pts)



These are both very good to outstanding wines that would be welcomed at my dinner table anytime.