Carneros is one of the regions in California that has the ability to grow excellent Chardonnay. It seems that more and more folks on both the Napa and Sonoma side of things are looking to relatively cool climate Carneros when they source Chardonnay. Franciscan Estate is a long time Napa Valley producer best known for Magnificat, their Bordeaux style red blend. Today I’ll look at the top level white wine in their portfolio. The Franciscan Estate 2008 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay was produced entirely from fruit sourced in the Carneros appellation of Napa Valley. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. Much of the fruit comes from the winery’s own Larsen Vineyard. All of the fruit was fermented in barrel using native yeasts. Barrel aging occurred over 14 months in all French oak; 86% of the barrels were new. Just fewer than 1,500 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40.
Aromas of vanilla bean, toast and nutmeg join an alluring array of orchard fruits on the nose of this 2008 Chardonnay. Pineapple, apricot, and hints of mango join continued orchard fruit notes throughout the palate of this wine. Baker’s spices emerge towards the back of the palate and lead to the lengthy finish which shows off lemon crème, minerals and chestnut characteristics.
This Chardonnay has plenty of oak influence on it, but it really adds character to this wine as opposed to detracting from it. The pure Carneros fruit shines through brilliantly, making for a delicious drinking experience. This offering will pair well with the more richly flavored side of foods appropriate for white wines. Creamy Four-Cheese Risotto would be a good choice as would Duck Confit.