Blends of small lots make great wines at Franciscan Estate.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
People often ask me what is my favorite wine. My answer is always the same, “blends.” I expect by the puzzled stares that they were expecting “Chardonnay,” “Pinot Noir” or some other varietal. So I explain further that one of my loves is a Bordeaux style wine. And Franciscan Napa Valley Magnificat 2009 is a good example.
Founded in 1973, The Franciscan Winery was purchased two years later by Justin Meyer. Using Oakville estate fruit Meyer released a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 1975, creating what would become the Franciscan style—making wine in small lots before blending them together.
In 1985 Franciscan debuted Magnificat, a proprietary blend of Bordeaux varietals and one of the original Meritage blends in California. The wine is named for J.S. Bach’s masterpiece, achieving the same harmony as its musical inspiration. Sourced from over 200 small lots of red wine, Magnificat is the best of the vintage’s Bordeaux blend. Each lot is monitored and accessed by blind tastings as it barrel-ages. Consistency of style is achieved by varying the wine’s composition according to each vintage of the wines varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with other Bordeaux varietals to round out and add complexity to the wine.
Today Janet Myers is Director of Winemaking, carrying on the Franciscan tradition and expanding it. Her current release of Franciscan Napa Valley Magnificat 2009 ($50) is the 25th vintage anniversary of this magnificent wine. It is dark garnet in color and round in body with notes of blackberry, coffee, plum and oak. The wine is 14.5 percent alcohol and is a blend of 71 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 26 percent Merlot, two percent Petit Verdot, and one percent Malbec. A pre-fermentation cold soak enhanced the wines color and structure. Magnificat was also fermented and macerated to build structure and integrate mouthfeel. Additionally 2009 weather conditions were ideal, which also contributes to the fruit and thus the wine’s beauty.
Published, B-Metro magazine, June, 2013