Franciscan Estate is a Napa Winery that has been a mainstay in the valley for close to 40 years. Their wines are available all over the country and many of the labels peak out from the shelves like familiar friends that want to come out and play. Today I’ll take a look at their relatively small production Chardonnay, Cuvée Sauvage, a wine that hasn’t been around quite as long as some of their other releases. The Franciscan Estate 2010 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay was produced entirely from fruit sourced in the Carneros appellation of Napa Valley. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The wine was fermented entirely in barrel utilizing only native yeats. All of the barrels were French oak; 86% of them were new. Aging took place over a period of 14 months. Just over 1,400 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40.
Aromas of Anjou pear, vanilla bean and cardamom fill the appealing and welcoming nose of this 2010 Chardonnay. Lemon zest, orchard fruit in droves and bits of crème fraiche are all present on the palate which is layered and intense while retaining grace and precision. A bevy of spices including white pepper and clove are in evidence throughout the lengthy finish along with lemon ice and continued pear and apple flavors. This is an elegant and impressive expression of Chardonnay that is well worth the bottle price. There’s a lot of Chardonnay from Napa Valley out there, this is an example that is both reasonably easy to find and well worth sampling because it stands apart from the pack a bit.