After last week’s lackluster experience with the Merlot, I decided to pop in and try one of the Cabernets from this brand of yesteryear. Nothing is more fun for me than visiting these old school brands from the 70’s and 80’s and either congratulating them on staying true to the course or scoffing at how far they have slid.

Dark dense garnet with a very obvious brick at the edge. Quite shocked at how barnyardy the nose is. I would not think a brand like this would try to get away with it–perhaps this thing is headed into the former, much happier, category? Is that maybe even a touch of Brett??? Fruit rather blasé, nothing explosive, nothing super minty or eucalyptus jumps out of the nose just a nice steady beat-stream of alcohol tinged dark fruit with just enough candy, just enough hint at cream cheese frosting and luxardo while the considerable alcohol and thick valley terrior keep it well below anything the Apothic gang is going to cheer about.

In the mouth, way cleaner and more streamlined than I expected–actually quite meager. Very claret like; extremely claret like. Fruit disappears within seconds of entry, replaced by woody acid and the foreshadowing of incredible tannins which doesn’t last as a foreshadow very long as they indeed do blossom and the finish becomes one of cool watery fruit and massive bitter tannins. Medoc is that you? I tell you what: Let’s decant this thing hard. I’ll be back in a half hour. Well, it’s a little rounder and riper. But not much.

Wow what a blast into the past this wine is. Literally like stepping back into California Cabernet 50 years. Either that or stepping sideways into the like priced Bordeaux aisle. And where is it headed? Is it headed for greatness like all those Clos Du Vals and BV’s and Mondavi’s from the late 70s and early 80s that we now swirl around and try to say nice things about? Is this a brand–despite corporate ownership–staying true to itself and making the exact same wine for 50 years? Or is this just a lackluster wine from a boring brand in a bad year? I’ve got several more of these. I think the next one is not going to get open for about a decade. Hopefully somebody from around here will be there to remind me of this post.

2011 FRANCISCAN ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 13.5


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