What happens when you have a harvest so good that it exceeds all your expectations? You start a new line! That’s what California’s St. Francis Winery did when the winemakers discovered the quality of the grapes from that year.
2012 had ideal weather with moderate temperatures throughout the growing season. There were no heat spikes, cold weather nor excessive rain. Everything came together and the fruit ripened evenly and developed great color and concentration, producing wines with rich flavors and excellent structure.
St. Francis winemaker Katie Madigan and vineyard manager Jake Terrell were in New York this week to promote the new line and celebrate St. Francis Winery’s partnership with the dining event coming up this weekend, the Cochon 555 U.S. Tour. They poured the new Reserve tier wines at a media gathering.
The 2012 St. Francis Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is from the classic Cabernet AVA, Alexander Valley. Much of the fruit is sourced from higher elevations that offer abundant sunshine as well as cool evenings, so ripening is ideal. This big wine had beautiful dark blackberry and earthy flavors and a long finish. We drank it with fatty pates and prociutto, and the wine cut through the rich foods wonderfully.
The 2012 St. Francis Reserve Merlot showed deep dark cherry concentration, which can be attributed both the quality of the grapes harvested, as well as vinification processes. These include removing some of the juice when the grapes are still in the tank, to increase the skin-to-juice ratio and add more intense flavor. It was paired with steak tartare prepared two ways – an unprecedented indulgence from the kitchen of Chef Francis Derby.
The 2012 St. Francis Reserve Dry Creek Zinfandel was a real showstopper. The aromas give this away immediately as not just another big Cali Zin. Instead, there is a touch of garrigue on the nose – lavendar and rosemary and herbal notes. The wine itself has a richness, but also a welcome balance. I decided it was a Zin for people who think they don’t like Zin. It was paired with heaping plates of short ribs, prime ribs, and more from a veritable groaning board of meat, prompting me to make a note to return to The Cannibal.
All of the St. Francis Reserve wines will be available in April 2015.Learn More