California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s 94-point Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is an extraordinary wine that delivers an extraordinary drinking experience. If you love classic Napa Cabernet, this wine is – especially at 35% off – an easy choice.
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Mission Codename: The Monks Cuneiform
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Franciscan Winery, in beautiful Oakville in California’s Napa Valley – and secure an allotment of their 94-point 2005 Stylus , a small-lot wine of remarkable distinction, for our deserving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Franciscan
Wine Subject: 2005 Stylus 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 on of the most diverse AVA’s in the Napa area.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with dark burgundy hues. Deeper and nearly opaque at the core, with a thick ring of red plum color at the edge of the glass. Thick wine-stained tears move slowly down the glass after swirling.
Smell – Candied cherry and blackberry rush to greet you. These intermingle with lush aromas of cassis, tobacco leaf, cherry chocolate, raspberry and cocoa powder.
Feel – Ultra-smooth and light on entry. Then, as flavors coat the mouth, the wine becomes softy grippy and full around the palate. Gradually, a soft dryness eases its way forward from the rear of the palate. Eventually, the lips and cheeks experience the most dryness.
Taste – Black cherry and dark mixed berries are followed by tart Bing cherry, dried cranberry, dark plum and black licorice. These gradually give way to earthen blackberry with soft spice and a hint of flinty minerals.
Finish – Ultra-long and very flavorful, the wine initially finishes with plentiful blackfruit, but then yields to darker flavors of bramble, spice and smoky chocolate powder.
Conclusion – If you have been waiting for us to bring you a true power-hitter, stunner, razzle-dazzler of a Cab, your wait is over! Today’s wine is the best we have tried from Franciscan – and a grand rival for any other Napa Cab we have tasted in recent months. If I sound like I am in love with this wine, its only because I am. The only ‘weakness’ with this wine is entirely my own… Its so delicious that I can’t help but drink the wine in big gulps! We paired our review bottle (can’t Franciscan provide a review case?) with grilled sausages and polenta with an arugula salad with red wine rosemary vinaigrette with shaved Parmesan. Even with all of the bold flavors present in the food, this wine was a perfect compliment, easily holding its own, and even providing a delicious refresh of the palate. Enjoy this wine now, or cellar for the next few years. Most of all, enjoy it… now.
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 2005 Stylus today. We are in love with the wine. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: Just finished my 17th harvest.
RED: That’s impressive. Who do you make wine for?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: Right now we are doing blend trials on the 09 red reserve wines, and actual blending in the cellar of the 08 reds and 09 Chardonnay, in preparation for bottling this summer. This week for example, we are focusing on the 2009 Stylus and Magnificat blends. Delicious! We have 80 separate Reserve red components, contenders to be in the Franciscan Stylus, Oakville Cab, Magnificat, Clos Reserve and Winemaker Reserve. Each component represents one unique vineyard block in a unique barrel type. As the blends are created with small samples from the barrels, they are tasted blind, 4-6 blends in a flight. The winner moves forward, and we will do several rounds. In 3 months we’ll do this again. It’s great to see the wines evolving and integrating, really coming together.
Also, I’m keeping a close eye on the weather. This has been a very unusual spring, an El Nino year with a lot of rain. After three dry years from 07-09, the land really needs the water, so no one is complaining, but it can stop anytime! May is getting late for wet weather, bloom is starting in Chardonnay, and will be starting in Cab soon. Rain and cold can affect pollination, set, and consequent cropload, so we’d like some balmy temps for late May/early June. It’s also a key time to walk vineyards with the vineyard manager and viticulturist, to discuss strategy for canopy management, crop load, thinning, etc. Soon as the berries set after bloom, the countdown to harvest begins.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JANET: Stylus is our highest expression of Cabernet Sauvignon. We make a small quantity, to showcase the fantastic Cab we get from our Oakville Estate and neighboring vineyards. Franciscan Magnificat is well known as a Meritage blend, generously incorporating more of the other Bordeaux varietals, with a typical Cab proportion in the 55-70% range. In contrast, Stylus is focused on Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend is 86% Cab, 7% Petite Verdot, 5% Merlot, and 2% Malbec. The Petite Verdot is a nice complement to the Cab, giving great color, structure, and backbone. The 2005 vintage was very late and long, with cool/moderate temps, so the grapes had lots of hang time, no heat spikes, no pressure to pick. The wines are rich, supple and elegant. This is a very ageworthy wine.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JANET: From braised short ribs to a grilled sirloin strip, it really complements beef, or any dish with savory, bold flavors. It is a big Cab, developing beautifully, and will go well with rich, full-flavored fare. Enjoy!
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know.
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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?
JANET: 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!
JANET: 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:
94 Points – The Wine News – “Deep crimson hue. Reserved scents of dust, baker’s chocolate, black cherry and wintergreen. Big, refined tannins and ripe flavors of cassis and raspberry liqueur. Layers of mocha, sweet tobacco and menthol in the endless black cherry-driven close.” July 24, 2008, Abraham Horowitz
About This Wine:
Stylus is the supreme expression of Franciscan’s signature in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The engraving on the label presents an aerial perspective of a wine press that symbolizes Franciscan’s commitment to creating exceptional wines in hundreds of small lots and blending them to perfection.
Cabernet Sauvignon has always played the leading role in Franciscan’s vision, since our first vintage in 1975, which set a quality standard for Napa Valley. Franciscan’s Magnificat and Cuvee Sauvage are synonymous with legendary quality found in the Napa Valley. Now, we are pleased to introduce Stylus, which continues to elevate the quality standard for Franciscan.
Stylus is created from grapes grown in our favorite vineyard blocks, including a selection from our Oakville Estate. As is tradition at Franciscan, we employ the paragon of small lot winemaking with Stylus.
In 2005, the growing season began early, with an unusually warm March, followed by a cool and wet spring delaying bloom until June. The summer temperatures were steady and moderate, without any of the normal heat spikes of late summer. October was beautiful and mild, and Cabernet came in unhurried, with long, even hang-time, picking up through November 5. – Janet Myers, Winemaker
Tasting Notes: Deep garnet in color with dense layers of ripe cassis, dark plum, cocoa and tobacco aromas. Vibrant and complex. Very full bodied, with deep flavors of black fruit, dark cherry, anise and plum. Hints of sweet toasty oak, chocolate and coffee add complexity. Very fine rich tannins fill the palate, giving big body and supple texture, leading to a very long finish of cassis and cocoa.
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.”
Varietals: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot; 5% Merlot, and 2% Malbec
Wine Type: Bold Red Wine
Appellation: Napa Valley
Aging: 24 months in 97% French oak, 97% new
Alcohol: 14.5 %