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Franciscan Cabernet: Bold yet refined

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by Tom Peiffer No Comments

Recently, Franciscan released the their first bottles of 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon into distribution.  With excellent weather conditions in Northern California and a wonderful grape crop, the rest is left to the senses.Franciscan Cabernet

One taste of the latest rendition of Franciscan’s Cabernet is proof enough that a skilled winemaker can make the best of a good year!  With many vineyards bringing in high fruit quantity in 2012, some will be left without concentrated flavors.  But once again, Franciscan’s small lot diverse production philosophy paid off quite well.

In fact, when compared to recent Franciscan Cabernet vintages, this one is consistently elegant and has significant aging potential for improvement over the coming years.  Also, its relatively low alcohol (13.5%), small amounts of mixing with other grapes, the 2012 is a good candidate for a comparative wine tasting with French Bordeaux selections.  This is always fun to do with American Cabernets of this style because, when the basic structure is more “Frenchie”, it forces us to focus on the less apparent differences in character during the tasting.

Even though this wine is still relatively young, it features a very interesting bouquet.  With dark cherry, anise, spices, tobacco, and powdered cocoa, this wine begins with an inviting charm.  Of course, the nice tannic structure that Franciscan is famous for is there, but a little more refined because of a nice balance with the acidity and a trace of saline.  This increases its food pairing potential.

Enjoy with a big char-broiled steak or roast beef.  This is also a good pick for people who like red wines, but not really big ones, or get turned off by the heat of the higher alcohol content often found in powerful red wines.

Also note that wines from Northern California’s 2012 vintage may end up being among the best as more reds come out this year.  It may be tempting to stock up and enjoy more of the 2012 vintage in the future, but it’s still a good idea to taste before you buy, even if it’s your favorite brand.

Wines that are too fruity with low acidity and light tannins will not benefit from aging more than several years.  One way to determine this is to benchmark them against Franciscan’s structure to help decide their “racking potential”.  If the tannins (similar to unsweetened tea that’s been well brewed) and acidity (like a few drops of lemon in your tea) are pronounced on your palate, the aging potential will be better.

Serve the Franciscan after 20-30 minutes in the fridge (60-65 degrees).  This Cabernet’s more subtle character will be muted if served too chilled.

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About the Author - Tom Peiffer

Tom has been an avid wine consumer and collector for over 20 years. This pastime has taken he and his family on many visits to wine growing regions, including Arizona. During these excursions, with the accompanying tastings and lectures, it became clear that there is no "magic bullet" wine. For each wine contains its own character, strong points, and weaknesses. Sharing these experiences to help anyone purchase locally available wines is his goal.

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