California: Napa Valley: Oakville
What We Say
WINE SPIES WORLD EXCLUSIVE:
Right now, there are only two places in the world to purchase today’s wine: at the Franciscan winery or… RIGHT HERE! Don’t miss out on this very limited opportunity to purchase such an amazing wine at today’s very low price.
BLACK FRIDAY QPR ALERT:
At a very special price, today’s exceptional wine represents an exceptional value, earning it an exceptional QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Alert (an alert for wines that drink well above their price class). Did we mention this deal is exceptional….?
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
Every day we issue a new Members-Only Code that entitles you to have ground shipping included at no charge on orders of six or more and, sometimes, we throw in an additional Operative Discount as well! Subscribe to our Daily Dispatch (above) and you’ll always know the Top Secret Coupon Code of the Day.
Mission Codename: Giovanni di Bernardone
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a stellar Black Friday wine by infiltrating Franciscan in Napa Valley’s Oakville region and secure an ample cache of the wine for our well-deserving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Franciscan
Wine Subject: 2005 Franciscan Magnificat – Meritage – Napa Valley
Winemaker: Janet Myers
Backgrounder: The Oakville AVA, centrally located in the Napa Valley and adjacent to the famous Rutherford AVA, was established in July, 1993. Oakville is considered one of the most diverse AVA’s in the Napa area.
Franciscan winery, located in the Oakville AVA, has been crafting its distinctive wines with extraordinary care, elegant style and finesse since 1985.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful deepest garnet and perfect ruby red when swirled in the light. This wine maintains deeply concentrated color through to its edges. With a deeper core and a softly bouncy surface that settles quickly after swirling, this wine exhibits tightly packed skinny legs that take a few moments to emerge before they move very steadily down the glass.
Smell – Deep and aromatic with lush fruits of dark blackberry, dark cherry, dark plum, dark chocolate, fresh sage, subtle black pepper, and soft black tea leaf.
Feel – Velvety smooth, beautifully round, and softly creamy at the front of the palate, then slowly mouth-coating and rich with lush, soft tannins that fade slowly.
Taste – Perfectly balanced light and dark fruit flavors, featuring delicious dark cherry, blackberry, cassis, and plum with emerging flavors of dark chocolate powder, soft spice, soft oak, and a subtle smoky blueberry.
Finish – Dark, fruity, long, and clean that tails off smoothly, while continuing to reveal new flavors as it tapers off over a lengthy amount of time.
Conclusion – We could not have selected a more appealing and more delicious Franciscan wine for today’s Black Friday special. With a gorgeous feel and aromas and flavors that inspire rather than over-power, this delicious wine is a wonderful treat and a food-friendly compliment to your holiday entertaining. Be sure to hold on to a few bottles for yourself! This wine gets a very hearty Wine Spies recommendation!
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 Magnificat today. I am in love with the wine! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Thank you, Agent Red, it’s great to be here and share a bit about the wine.
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: Finishing getting the 2009 reds to barrel, which are delicious, and working on the new 2009 Sauvignon Blanc blend and the 08 Cuvee Sauvage Reserve Chardonnay, both of which will bottle after the holidays. There is always something exciting to work on.
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: Our Magnificat wine is one of the original Meritage blends. We start with over 200 barrel lots from individual vineyard blocks, and make the best Bordeaux blend of the vintage, building off of our Oakville Estate Vineyard. The blend varies year to year, this one is 73% Cab, and has all five major Bordeaux varietals in it. It is rich and textural, with layers of cassis and mocha.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: It’s really versatile and works with many savory dishes: a steak, pork chops, duck, even barbecue. My personal philosophy is that if you like a wine, it will go well with a lot of things.
RED: Perfect, I just picked up a few steaks to enjoy with one of my other bottles! 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
About This Wine:
Years ago, legendary Napa Valley winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff tasted wines from Franciscan’s Oakville estate and suggested that this vineyard would reach its finest expression as a blend in the style of the eminent wines of Bordeaux.
Many of the great wines of the world are blends, but when Franciscan started making Magnificat, there was no name for such a wine produced in America. The laws did not allow it to be labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but it was clearly more than a mere table wine. So in 1985, Franciscan joined with a few other Napa Valley vintners, offering bottles of their proprietary blends with labels that read “Wine Waiting for a Name.” This was the beginning of a successful campaign to give winemakers the freedom to make the best wine possible, under the name Meritage.
The cool spring of 2005 delayed bloom until June. The summer temperatures were steady and moderate, without any of the normal heat spikes in August. October was beautiful and mild, and the fruit came in unhurried, with long, even hang-time, picking up through November 5. We began with over two-hundred separate small wine lots, then carefully selected the finest without regard to variety percentages. For Magnificat, our goal is to craft a wine as seamless and harmonious as the Bach masterwork for which the wine is named. – Janet Myers, Winemaker
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: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Napa Valley
Cooperage: 24 months, predominantly new, French oak barrels (93% French oak, 87% New oak)