2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
Today’s food-friendly Cabernet Sauvignon drinks well above its price class, giving it a fantastic QPR (Quality to Price Ratio)
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Mission Codename: Monks Pride
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Franciscan Winery, in beautiful Oakville in California’s Napa Valley – and secure an allotment of their multi-award winning 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon for our Franciscan-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Franciscan
Wine Subject: 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Winemaker: Janet Myers
Backgrounder: The Oakville AVA, centrally located and adjacent to Napa Valley’s famous Rutherford AVA, was established in July 1993. Oakville is considered one of the most diverse AVA’s in the Napa area.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest garnet with ruby-hued edges. The wine has a slightly grainy look to it, giving it an old world feeling. soft and springy when swirled, the wine leaves behind broad, garnet-stained tears.
Smell – Richly dark, leading with earthen dark fruit of boysenberry, blackberry, black cherry and a hint of blueberry. These aromas are interlocked with tobacco, hard leather, dark chocolate, softest spice and soft forest floor.
Feel – Lush and light, on the attack. Then, the wine becomes softly dense as plump tannins slowly emerge, adding depth and character.
Taste – Delicious and multi-layered, with flavors of black currant, cranberry and cherry at the beginning. As the wine settles onto the palate, flavors of darkest chocolate, toasted vanilla, black pepper and plum emerge.
Finish – Dusky, bright and high, with pronounced red fruit and earthen blackfruit that lingers – then tails off slowly. After several seconds, a surprise hit of cracked pepper appears on the mid-palate, and spreading across the entire tongue!
Conclusion – Great flavors, deep aromatics and a fabulous feel all combine to make this a very special wine! The black pepper that magically appears at the very end of the finish was a real surprise – and a delightfully unique thrill that our tasting panel can’t help but keep talking about. This wine, with its bright acids, is an easy and very flexible food companion. It is no coincidence that, while reviewing this wine, I received a special Flash Traffic alert that the wine had just garnered a #1 Restaurant Wine of the Year award from Wine & Spirits Magazine.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Janet Myers
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/64
PLACE OF BIRTH: Centralia, Illinois
WINE EDUCATION: M.S. Enology and Viticulture, University of California, Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Director of Winemaking, Franciscan Estate and Mount Veeder Winery. Previous experience with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Beaulieu Vineyards, Louis M. Martini Winery, and Robert Mondavi Winery.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To make wines that are rich, balanced, supple, food-friendly, and show varietal character and place of origin.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The chance to make wine with great fruit from many vineyards.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”It’s all about what’s in the glass. As a winemaker, take the wine very seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Janet. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon today. Our tasting panel loved the wine. Congratulations on winning the “#1 Restaurant Wine” award! And, thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Thank you, Agent Red! We’re happy to be on another covert mission with you today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: I was in London, living above a wine shop and getting to taste a lot of great wines, and also working in restaurants serving wine. This got me interested. But while traveling in Italy, where my mom’s parents are from, the vineyards and wineries fascinated me and I became focused on winemaking. The stars lined up, and I realized I could pursue a field that combined agriculture, food, flavors, science, and history.
RED: Where did you learn the most about winemaking?
WINEMAKER: The tools to understand what is going on in the wine were gained from UC Davis, a great foundation. But learning to make wine happens in the winery, you learn by doing, building on the practical knowledge that accumulates with each vintage. When I started out, I did back-to-back harvests in Italy and Australia. Such different approaches, but both made great wine; it was really an eye-opener.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
WINEMAKER: To make balanced wines, with vibrancy and complexity, to stay true to the varietal character, and strive to bring the best out of the grapes. Tailor the approach to what the wine needs, use intuition, and don’t try to turn it into something it’s not.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: All wines interest me, the range of personality between varietals and styles. Napa Cabs and their depth and complexity are inspiring. Over my career, experiencing different winemakers with different approaches has grounded me.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
WINEMAKER: Just finished my 17th harvest.
RED: That’s impressive. Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: For our consumers, ultimately. The winemaker has a vision of the wine he or she wants to make that will bring out the best potential of the fruit. That said, wine is made to be consumed, so you think about enhancing consumers’ experiences, complementing their meals. I strive to make wines that I love, that people will enjoy, and that respect the tradition and style of the winery.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa region so special?
WINEMAKER: A great combination of soil and climate. This is Cabernet spa treatment, with intense, warm summer days to build structure and richness, and cool nights to maintain vibrancy and deep color. No rain between May and October is a major bonus.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
WINEMAKER: Work in a cellar to try it out. Keep an open mind, trust yourself. Be flexible and be prepared for anything!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: We are currently busy blending the 2009 vintage and starting to walk the vineyards to watch bud break
RED: You’ll have to keep us covertly informed as to how those are progressing! Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
WINEMAKER: With each vintage we With each vintage, we make up to 200 separate lots of wine, and then hone the blend during the year-and-a-half of barrel aging, blind tasting trial blends repeatedly before selecting the final blend. The 2006 vintage has a rich bouquet of deep blackcurrant, dark cherry and blackberry. This is a concentrated and well-built wine, the mouthfeel is substantial with generous body enhanced by flavors of currants, cherry, cocoa.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: This wine pairs wonderfully with grilled New York strip steak with morel mushrooms and roasted red potatoes.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know.
WINEMAKER: I grew up around my parents’ and grandparents’ fruit orchard operation in Southern Illinois, apples and peaches, which gave me a love of the land and farming. It was a great way to grow up.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
WINEMAKER: There isn’t just one, it depends on what we’re eating. We do drink a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, then Chard for richer dishes, Rieslings for Indian and Asian. For a red, Cabernet is the go-to wine by far, but Pinot Noir is a wonderful counterpoint for a completely different experience.
RED: Sound like a good, balanced approach to playing favorites. Tell me, how would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
WINEMAKER: Overall, the most important thing is to drink what you enjoy, and pair it with foods as you see fit. Trust your palate. Try new things, but don’t feel like you have to “move on” or “move up,” it’s ok to stick with your favorites. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should like.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
WINEMAKER: There are so many I enjoy, but probably I’d go with a Cabernet or Cab blend.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
WINEMAKER: Question: Could you talk about your vineyards and what they bring to the wine? Answer: The heart and soul of our red wines comes from our Oakville Estate Vineyard, 240 acres which we’ve been farming for 35 years (ever since Justin Meyer established it as our estate vineyard). Having that continuity helps ensure consistency across vintages. Years ago, Andre Tchelistcheff observed that it was a great place for Bordeaux varietals, and we’ve been doing that ever since. We also have 20 prime Chardonnay acres in Carneros, the Larsen Vineyard, which provides the backbone of our wild-yeast fermented Cuvee Sauvage. I love the firm acidity and vibrancy, which complements a reserve style Chard with the creaminess and richness of barrel fermentation.
RED: Andre is something of a hero of ours. And now, so are you! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
WINEMAKER: Thanks, it was a pleasure. Enjoy the wine. Cheers!h3. Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Franciscan can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
- Most Popular Cabernet Sauvignon* – Wine & Spirits 21st Annual Restaurant Poll – “Silver Oak and Jordan have led the Most Popular Cabernet Sauvignon list for years – until now, bowed by the recession. For the first time since the early 1990s, the pair has lost their hold on the top two positions: Franciscan Oakville Estate rose from the eighth position last year to number one.”
About This Wine:
Thirty-one vintages ago, Justin Meyer took over winemaking at Franciscan with a highly meticulous approach. He divided our Oakville estate into separate sections and made a collection of individual wines from them, each with a unique expression. He then blended the best lots together with extra care to create a wine with a distinct profile – rich, concentrated flavors yet soft, gentle tannins. On the back label he wrote, “This 1975 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon represents the style and character we wish to make synonymous with Franciscan.” And so our tradition of small lot winemaking began.
Over time we’ve added more vineyards, but our Oakville estate – still divided into the original vineyard blocks – continues to form the core of our Cabernet Sauvignon. With each vintage, we make up to 200 separate lots of wine, and then hone the blend during the year-and-a-half of barrel aging, blind tasting trial blends repeatedly before selecting the final blend. Only the finest lots are included.
Appearance: Ruby red
Aroma: 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.
Flavors: 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.
About The Winery:
Franciscan has its roots deeply embedded in the soil of Napa Valley. Founded over three decades ago, wine industry revolutionaries Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer shaped the winery’s beginnings. In 1985, renowned vintner Agustin Huneeus took over the reins, leading the winery to greatness through innovation and a commitment to small-lot winemaking.
Today, Director of Winemaking Janet Myers is preserving the winery’s legacy while leading it into the future. “We inherited a craftsman’s ethic here: work with nature, work in small lots, innovate. Our uniqueness depends on the details,” she says.
All of Franciscan’s winemakers have left their individual marks, but all have remained true to Franciscan’s signature: bold wines with the rare combination of rich, vibrant flavors yet fine, supple texture.
Franciscan’s output of legendary wines began with the its 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon, by Justin Meyer. This release established the Franciscan style based on making wine in small lots, then blending them together to achieve the greatest expression.
Recognizing that the world’s finest wines are blends, in 1985 Franciscan introduced Magnificat. Under vintner Agustin Huneeus, this proprietary blend of Bordeaux varietals pioneered the popular Meritage class of wines. Two years later, Franciscan made another dramatic impact on the world of wine when Greg Upton produced Cuvée Sauvage, the first Napa Valley Chardonnay fermented with wild yeast.
Janet Myers joined Franciscan in 2003, and was appointed Director of Winemaking in September 2005. “In the heart of Napa Valley, the Franciscan estate vineyards are the perfect place for me to explore Cabernet and its nuances. I love the body and texture of Cab, how it has layers of intensity and richness, but with such finesse when you get it right.”
Janet’s first harvest was at Robert Mondavi Winery, when she was still a student at the University of California at Davis. She has worked at leading vintners in Italy, Australia, and Napa Valley to pursue her passion for crafting fine wine. “When I realized that this was a profession that combined science and agriculture — my family background — I enrolled at Davis and haven’t looked back.”
Winemaker: Janet Myers
Varietal Composition: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec
Appellation: Napa Valley
Time in Oak: 16 months
Type of Oak: French and American oak, 29% new