Sometimes in life it’s the things closest to you that are the easiest to overlook. So it was for us with several of the recent vintages from Franciscan Estate in St. Helena.
The winery’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was recently recognized as the most popular Cabernet in American restaurants according to Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 21st Annual Restaurant Wine Poll, so we jumped at the chance to try it for ourselves.
For some 35 years Franciscan Estate has focused on blending select fruit from hundreds of lots to craft wines that “fully express the classic varieties and their vineyard origins.” The winery, which is marketed by Constellation Wines U.S., produces a mid-range Napa Valley tier of wines including a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Magnificat, a red wine blend of classic Bordeaux varietals, and Cuvee Sauvage, the first Napa Valley Chardonnay to revive the lost art of wild yeast fermentation. Among the vineyards are 240 acres within the renowned Oakville AVA.
On first opening the bottle and checking out the nose we found soft, subtle hints of raspberry and other dark red fruits. After decanting it opened up provide beautiful notes of chocolate, caramel and cherries, mixed with light oak tones and a solid tannin structure. Overall, the wine was very nicely balanced with a medium-to-big mouthfeel that constantly left us wanting more.
We paired the wine with barbecued ribs and it went quite nicely. The hearty, red-fruit focused wine complimented the spicy, grilled flavors from the ribs.
Rich bouquet of deep blackcurrant, dark cherry and blackberry. Hints of sweet vanilla with enticing mocha and tobacco notes add complexity to the dark, dense layers of fruit. Concentrated and well-built, the mouthfeel is substantial with generous body. Flavors of currants, cherry, cocoa, and soft toasty notes build on the palate, leading to a rich lingering finish of plum and cassis.
The varietal composition is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec. Checking in at 13.5% alcohol by volume the wine was aged for 16 months in French and American oak (29% new) and there were a total of 130,310 cases produced.
Suggested retail price is $27 per 750ml bottle, though we’ve seen it in local wine shops and grocery stores in the $25 per 750ml bottle range.
The Franciscan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is ready to drink now or lay down in a wine cellar for a good few years. At its sub-$30 price point this will be a welcomed addition to a Summer barbeque or as a partner for a hearty Summer pasta or meaty pizza.
Browse our previous Cabernet Sauvignon reviews.
Full Disclosure: We received this wine as a sample.