These latest Reserve releases from the ‘new’ St. Francis are the most compelling wines I’ve tasted from this venerable Sonoma winery since the early 90’s. They’re truly great, and we have two truly talented young winemakers to thank for crafting them.
Katie Madigan worked as an assistant winemaker for St. Francis for a decade before getting her shot as the winemaker for the winery’s Zinfandels and many of their white wines. On her most recent visit to the store you could see the passion oozing from her pores when it came time to talk Zin ‘turkey’. The proper Zin is just right, balancing the perfumey berry richness of the grape on a live wire of acidity and fine tannins. That’s the 2012 St. Francis Old Vine Reserve Zinfandel. It’s just right.
Robert Parker (correctly) gave it one of his highest scores of the vintage (93 points) while remarking it was, “Full-bodied with copious notes of black cherries, black raspberries, earth, bouquet garni, pepper, spice box and vanillin, this dark ruby/purple-colored, full-bodied, opulent, still young and vigorous Zin should drink well for at least a decade.”
The other part of this tag team tandem is Bordeaux varietal and Sauvignon Blanc specialist Chris Louton. Chris recently joined St. Francis after half a decade helping to craft many of the Reserve tier Cabernet wines at Beringer. Chris brought that know-how to St. Francis, with immediate and devastatingly good results. First, how about the best bottle of Merlot (a variety that St. Francis built their reputation on) that St. Francis has produced in, gosh, forever? This, this is St. Francis Merlot. The 2012 St. Francis Merlot Reserve is a plush, cocoa-laced beauty that revels in the dense, round velvety feel that this grape variety can convey. I was pleasantly shocked at how compelling an example it was.
Finally, Chris’ coup de grace, the 2012 St. Francis Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. This is an epic Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from hillside fruit that matured at a leisurely pace, maximizing hang time, maximizing flavor. It is a knockout, blockbuster, powerhouse bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon the likes I’ve not honestly tasted from this winery…ever.
Parker’s note says it all, “…the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve possesses an inky/purple color as well as gorgeous notes of blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, licorice, camphor and graphite. Full-bodied, youthful and primary as well as stacked and powerful, it offers sweet tannin as well as massive extract and richness. This potentially long-lived, Alexander Valley classic should evolve for 2-3 decades.”
At 94+ points it is one of Parker’s highest-scoring Sonoma Cabernets of the 2012 vintage. All three of these wines are drinking splendidly now but promise to deliver another decade’s worth of joy…maybe longer. It’s good to see St. Francis and the ‘kids’ are more than alright, they’re awesome.
Kyle Meyer and Tristen Beamon, Proprietors, Wine ExchangeLearn More