Tasting Cabernet Sauvignon Two Ways at Franciscan
Wine tasting on a sunny weekday in Napa Valley is definitely something to look forward to. A recent event at Franciscan afforded the opportunity to taste and compare Cabernet Sauvignon grown in a mountain vineyard with a valley vineyard. The first stop on the tour was Mt. Veeder, which isn’t open to the public. We drove up the windy mountain road until we reached the Mt. Veeder Vineyard (owned by Franciscan) at the top of the hill. We hiked through the vineyard to tables set-up overlooking the dramatic hill-top vineyard for our wine tasting. It is currently harvest in the Napa Valley and many of the vines are laden with ripening fruit.
The vertical tasting consisted of four years of Mt.Veeder Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Glasses were arranged on the table along with a cheese board to cleanse the palette and complement the wine. We tasted a 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. While each of the Cabernet’s exhibited bold character with big fruit, many of us preferred the silkiness of the 2004. Wine tastes so much better when you are drinking it in the vineyard where it was grown, but I rarely have that opportunity.
Our next stop was the Franciscan Oakville Estate Vineyard adjacent to the Silver Oak Winery. The vineyard covers 240 acres and is located next to a reservoir and is not open to the public. We tasted wine on a deck overlooking the vineyards and reservoir, which has become a habitat for birds and fish. The sun was shining and birds were singing as we sipped the 2006 Magnificat, a red Bordeaux blend and one of their signature wines. Franciscan was one of the first wineries to introduce a Meritage blend to Napa Valley.
The last stop was at the Franciscan Winery where we sampled Sauvignon Blanc on the outdoor patio before our gourmet lunch was served. The crisp wine has hints of grapefruit and lime.
Lunch was served at a dramatic long table draped with a white tablecloth and flower arrangements scattered along the length of the table. We were lucky enough to have the winemaker Janet Myers join us for lunch. The first course was pan roasted Day-Boat Scallops with Butternut Squash, Cashews and Curly Endive, served with a 2007 Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage. The pairing was perfect. The Cuvee Sauvage has notes of citrus, minerals and oak balancing the flavors of the scallop preparation.
The main course was a pan roasted Tri-Tip with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Gnocchi paired with a 2007 Franciscan Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet contains a small amount of Malbec which provides a “lusciousness” according to Myers. And I would have to agree. Dessert was a mouth-watering Chocolate Souffle with Creme Fraiche and Fleur de Sel paired with a 2005 Franciscan Port, simply heavenly! Tasting at each of the vineyards provided insight into the characteristics of the wine which vary due to their altitude, irrigation, sun exposure and soil variations. My predicament is that I can’t choose a favorite, I like them all!
Franciscan Winery offer tastings daily where you can sample both Franciscan and Mt. Veeder Vineyard wines.
No appointment necessary for groups of fewer than six to taste in the Visitor Center. Groups of more than six guests may taste in the courtyard or arrange in advance for a private tasting. Seminars are daily by appointment, please call 707.967.3993 or email info @ franciscan.com to plan your visit.
Open daily from 10am – 5pm.
Located on Highway 29 at Galleron Road