The story: I spent the weekend in Sonoma this weekend and had an amazing time (a story or two on some experiences are forthcoming.) Every time I'm in Sonoma I'm reminded at how much I internally feel that I prefer Sonoma to Napa. This may be an interesting way to start a post dedicated to two very nice Napa wines, but it is just true. I feel that I get more bang for my buck, I feel that the people and farms seem more genuine which makes me feel more genuinely attracted to the wines, and I feel that culturally I'm just more comfortable in Sonoma. But then two wines like those below come along and remind me that there are exceptions to every rule I think applies. Just when I feel sure that I've got something figured out, the twist presents itself. I'm greatful that I had these wines recently to remind me that Napa has wines at all price points that are approchable, interesting, and appealing. To remind me that while I often prefer and idealize small-lot wines that represent the extremes of the unique vineyard in which they are grown, wines that represent the careful hand of the winemaker, there are some large production wines that simply taste good, and present a value that makes me feel good. These are two of those wines that are widely available, of a rather high quality, and represent exactly what they are meant to represent. Score 1 for Napa, and while I never thought I would say this, score 1 for carefully sourced large production with consistency....
The wines: The 2008 Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark purple and black, and gives of aromas of thick fig and plum sauce with a bit of caramelly, toasty oak. A very typical rich Napa Cabernet nose, and really very appealing. The palate offers waves of cassis and black cherry, with a bit of oakiness through the mid-palate that leads to an earthy and rather tightly structured finish.
The 2007 Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot is a bit lighter, but also presents as a rather dark purple. It's nose is reluctant, but over time offers creamy chocolate, cherry, and slightly woody notes. The juice tastes of ripe plums and dry earth with hints of black olive. The tannins are a bit more relaxed than its younger cousin, and yet the acidity holds true and makes it drinkable well past the first few sips.
The verdict: If this were a competition then the Cabernet would win by a hair, but both of these wines were delicious, structured, and are easily recommended. These are wines that you probably won't find nationally at your supermarket, but will find nationally at your large wine retailers and each of these bottles will generally be under $20. Just when I think I've set a rule for myself I realize that, especially with wine, I'm only limiting my own experience.
These wines were provided as samples with intent to review