When you think of the dominant wines that come from Napa Valley, you immediately think of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Those are the two main varieties coming out of the Napa Valley. Anyone who knows Napa knows that the wines they produce are big and bold, even the Chardonnay. Typically, you will find the Chardonnay to be over-oaked and having undergone malolactic fermentation. That style of Chardonnay is definitely not my style, thus I am not typically a fan of most Chardonnay that comes from Napa valley.
Last month, during International Cabernet day, I was sent a Cabernet from Franciscan Estate and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have also always been a fan of their Bordeaux-style red blend, Magnificat. So, as you can see, I am already somewhat familiar with their wines. Not that long ago, I was sent a bottle of one of their Chardonnays to try. The bottle I was sent was their 2010 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay.
Franciscan Estate has been producing wines, using grapes of the highest quality, for over 30 years. Only wines produced with those grapes are worthy enough to bear the Franciscan Estate crest. Franciscan produces the traditional Napa Valley varieties as well as elegant red and white blends.
The Franciscan Estate 2010 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay gets its grapes from the famed Carneros AVA. The Carneros AVA is influenced by the coolness of the Pacific Ocean with a combination of warm days, fog, and a long growing season. All of this affects the regions terroir, thus making the grapes grown in Carneros, unique. This wine is 100% barrel fermented in French Oak. Franciscan Estate also adopts the traditional Burgundian practice of fermenting Chardonnay entirely with wild, native vineyard yeasts. The term “sauvage” means wild in French. Given all of this, I knew this would not be a typical Napa Valley Chardonnay and I was looking forward to tasting it.
This Chardonnay pours a light, straw color in the glass. There are lovely aromatics on the nose, almost perfume-like. On the nose, you get fresh Granny Smith apple, juicy pears, pineapple, with a gentle whiff of vanilla. One the palate, there are fresh layers of pear, pineapple, honey, and lemon meringue. All the flavors are balanced out by nice acidity and there is a hint of creamy butterscotch on a long finish. This is not the typical oak monster Chardonnay that normally comes out of Napa Valley. This is a really lovely, refreshing wine. I enjoyed this wine on a warm Sunday afternoon and paired it with a fettucini with a lemon cream sauce. It was a wonderful pairing.
I was hesitant at first because most Chardonnay that comes from Napa is not my style, however this Chardonnay, made in more a Burgundian fashion, was delicious and absolutely wonderful. I would definitely drink this wine again and recommend it. This wine sells for $40 per bottle directly from the winery. For more information on Franciscan Estate or to purchase their wines, please visit their website.
Until the next time.
* This wine was provided as a media sample for review purposes.