Tag Archives: San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

My St Francis Winery Trio – Sonoma County

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My St Francis Trinity…

Somehow over the last couple of weeks I took a trip to California’s Sonoma County without ever leaving my house. No packing or long airport lines just a corkscrew, three bottles of wine [not simultaneously] and my wine glass.  Of course I wouldn’t really mind the stress of a cross-country trip to sit among the vines but luckily these wines helped me to better understand Sonoma County and its many appellations including; Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and others.

I have had my eye on these wines for a few months hoping for and taking advantage of sales as they came to fruition. All three of these wines were purchased at Winn-Dixie where I am employed as their Wine Steward. Retail prices range from about $13.00 to $25.00 and are also available at other fine establishments including, yes, even grocery stores with fine wine selections.

St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma 2008

We retail this wine at $22.99 but I just saw it on-line for $24.99. Luckily for me a recent sale brought it down to $17.99. Wish I would have bought more!
This rich dark garnet colored, I actually noted “tar like”, wine showed syrupy looking legs as it was decanted and poured in a glass. Strong vinous aromas to start, with dark fruit, oak, tobacco and what I placed as violet leading the pack.  Very rich in texture this medium to full body wine coats your mouth with long lingering tannins.
Winemaker notes:
The grapes in this classic varietal come from five of the top Sonoma County appellations: Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and one of the most recently established appellations Rockpile. Hand-picked at harvest,  the fully ripened clusters are crushed into temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and fermented from eight to fifteen days. After fermentation, the wine is pressed and then aged in different lots for twenty to twenty – three months in new American and French oak barrels. Once the desired lots are selected and blended, the wine is bottled and held another four to eight months so that it’s fully developed by time of release.

This Cabernet Sauvignon has rich varietal character and body. The wine’s firm structure, generous tannins, and depth of color complement classic aromas and flavors of ripe black currant, spicy tobacco, dark chocolate, cassis and spicy oak.

Awards:

SILVER MEDAL, 2011 SONOMA COUNTY HARVEST FAIR WINE COMP. Built and focused, the black-fruited ’08 St Francis Cabernet exhibits plenty of richness from start to finish; soft tannins in the aftertaste.

Wine Enthusiast review:

Good price for a nicely complex Cabernet for drinking now. Dry and smooth in tannins, it shows ripe blackberry, cherry, licorice and herb flavors, with a kiss of oak. -Wine Enthusiast, 87 Points

St Francis 2010 Chardonnay

This wine retails in the $14-16.00 range but I have seen it recently as low as $12.00.

Medium golden in color this fruity oaked Chardonnay brought stone fruits such as apricots and peaches to my senses along with pears, citrus and a minerality on the nose and palate. Not overly rich,  I would recommend this selection for those who like some oak in their Chardonnay’s but not an overwhelming buttery amount.

It was left-over and appetizers for dinner night at our house and this Chardonnay paired deliciously with this ragtag line up; rotisserie chicken salad with walnuts, smoked crab dip, Cajun smoked salmon dip, triple crème brie and even Gorgonzola. Bet you thought I was kidding….

Winemaker notes:

Our Sonoma County Chardonnay derives its flavor from a unique blend of some of Sonoma County’s finest vineyards. hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, this 100% Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed to enhance fruit character then barrel and malolactic fermented to heighten flavor and enrich the mouthfeel.  Aromas of fresh melon combine with hints of hazelnut and citrus. This  medium-bodied Sonoma County Chardonnay displays fresh flavors of butterscotch and pineapple, followed by crisp acidity and a rich, lingering finish.

Awards:

Sonoma County Harvest Fair – Best of Class

2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – Silver Medal

St 2008 Francis Old Vine Zinfandel

This Zinfandel produced from 55 to 100-year-old vines is priced in the $20.00-$22.00 range with sale prices sometimes bringing it down into the $18 range. I am an Old Vine Zinfandel fan as evidenced recently by my Zin-ful Weekend post so this wine always intrigued me.

Tawny garnet in color I noted this wine was almost brown. It’s ageability of 3-5 years may explain this occurence.  Not super fruity at decanting; wood, spices such as cinammon, nutmeg and clove were detected along with raisins and casis as the wine breathed.  On the palate a spicy dark peppery taste was noted with the wine opening to a caramel, butterscotch delicate burnt smoke taste.  With the ALC level listed at 15.5% I would recommend decanting this Old Vine Zin for at least 30-40 minutes because it truly does soften nicely with the passing of time.

Wine making notes;

The grapes in our Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel come from vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley. These vines range in age from 55 to 100 years old, producing low yields of fruit with highly concentrated, intense flavors. All grapes are hand-harvested, gently de-stemmed and crushed before cold-soaking for three days to extract optimal color and flavor. The fruit is then inoculated with many different yeast strains to build complexity, then fermented in separate lots using a combination of pumpovers and delestage to soften tannins. Secondary malolactic fermentation occurs in 50% American and 50% French oak barrels – 25% of which are new.

In closing:

For those who may have thought this post to be about Saint Francis who on July 16, 1228,  was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX and is known as the patron saint of animals and the enviroment I hope you were not too disappointed.  I’d like to think Saint Francis is watching over not only my hounds but me and mine too.

¡SALUD!

Pinot Noir Smackdown September 6 2012 – Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir

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Click for 2011 ResultsYes it’s true! It is time for the 3rd annual Pinot Noir Smackdown. Not only can you follow the days events via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc. you can share your favorite Pinot Noir and vote for the state or country they come from.  The big winner last year was New Zealand.  2010’s winner was Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

For more information, instructions and rules check out: http://www.winetonite.com/2012/07/30/3rd-annual-pinot-noir-smackdown-september-6-2012/ and to register go to:  http://pinotsmackdown2012.eventbrite.com/ Be sure to tag your entries with #PinotNoirSmackdown.  Per the events organizer;

#PinotSmackdown is an all-day global celebration of the world’s most expressive wine grape combined with a knock-down, drag-out cage fight between YOUR FAVORITE Pinot-producing regions!

Wine lovers have had quite the week with #CabernetDay now being followed by #PinotNoirSmackdown. I usually do not need much of a push to enjoy Pinot Noir.  As I wrote about earlier this year I continue to search for an affordable bold Pinot Noir that grabs my attention the way more expensive ones have in the past.  I am a  fan of BIG Pinot Noir’s from Oregon and the ones I have been drawn too are usually in the $40.00+ range. Examples would be Coehlo’s 2006 and Lachini’s 2007.  Unfortunately nothing I have come across in the $20.00 or below range has come close. But I do enjoy the challenge 🙂

Interestingly enough I have not reviewed my favorite Pinot’s on this site. That will have to change soon since I do still have a bottle of Lachini in the cellar waiting for that special occasion. For those interested in my earlier Pinot Noir reviews check out the links below with both just happening to be from Chile;

Gran Valle de Niebla Reserve: https://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/04/11/chiles-gran-valle-de-niebla-reserve-pinot-noir-2011/

The Show Pinot Noir: https://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/03/22/the-show-and-tell-2010-pinot-noir-from-leyda-valley-chile/

Today I am writing about a winemaker that I had never heard of before being employed as a Wine Steward.  As it turns out Concannon has quite the pedigree and interesting history dating back to the late 1800’s.

From their website:

Concannon Vineyard has a proud history of “Firsts.” Always an industry leader, Concannon is the first successful winery to be founded by an Irish immigrant. When James Concannon planted white Bordeaux cuttings in the late 1800s, we became one of the first wineries to make Bordeaux-style wines in California. In 1950, we hired the first professional, female winemaker, Katherine Vajda. In 1961, we introduced America’s First Petite Sirah, sparking a love affair with the variety. Our inaugural vintage was so well-received that we have produced it ever since, and it has become our highly regarded flagship wine. Shortly thereafter, Concannon’s role in the California Cabernet Sauvignon industry became truly historic! From the 1970’s onward, the famous “Concannon Clones 7, 8 & 11” provided the backbone of the huge expansion in Cabernet plantings in California’s premium wine regions as well as in many of Napa’s most prestigious vineyards. California Cabernet, the wine that primarily placed California on the world wine map, was built upon our Concannon Clone vines.

A SILVER MEDAL San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winner for 2012 the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir is their mid-range tiered wine among others more expensive and Glen Ellen on the lower cost range. Concannon is owned by The Wine Group; the  third-largest wine company by volume behind Constellation Brands and the E&J Gallo Winery.  Their products include among many; Fish Eye, Mogen David, Big House, Flip Flop, Corbett Canyon, Paul Masson, Cupcake Vineyards, Almaden, Inglenook…

Vineyard Notes:

Our Selected Vineyards wines are well-loved varieties from select Central Coast vineyards and represent remarkable value. California’s Central Coast offers unmatched blending diversity from its multitude of microclimates. Cool region grapes contribute distinctive fresh fruit nuances and warm region grapes add depth of flavor and complexity. These highly acclaimed wines take no shortcuts and are easily worth twice their modest price.

Winemaker Notes:

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Selected Vineyards is rich in both color and fragrance.  With aromas of raspberry and ripe strawberry, this medium-bodied wine is very food-friendly. Balanced by warm spice accents of cloves and cinnamon, the bright red fruit flavors finish round and smooth.

My Notes: This being a relatively young wine and usually a light varietal I decided not to aerate as I poured directly into the wine glasses. This was a mistake on my part. The aromas were locked in at first and not flattering to the nose. Surprisingly within 10 minutes this started to change and once I decided to use an attachable aerator on the bottle this became a different wine.  Lesson learned.

Once open I would describe this wine as fruit [red] forward on the nose with raspberry, cherry, and strawberry. An earthiness and spice were also noted but not specifically definable to me beyond that.  I would disagree with the wine maker notes above describing this as a medium body wine; this wine is very light bodied.  Wood on the nose and palate added to the fruity finish [cherry] as it opened beyond 30 minutes. And I must add that this wine had beautiful lingering legs on the wine glasses that we were able to appreciate prior to the wine quickly  disappearing 🙂

In my research I learned that the alcohol content is recorded at 13.5% [+/-] and that 24,000 cases were produced.  I would describe this wine as very drinkable every day wine.  The retail price is listed as $10.00 by the manufacturer, I was able to attain it at a price of $7.99 on sale at Winn-Dixie but have seen it priced as high as $12.99.  I would say that at the $10.00 range this is a very good wine, an easy choice, a perfect example of what I refer to as Grocery Store Wine.

We paired this with roasted garlic chicken and a 4-cheese Merlot risotto I concocted. The pairing was a success and worked incredibly well with the garlic.  Would I buy this wine again? Sure. Would I recommend it to a customer looking for a lite and delicate Pinot Noir in this price range? Yes. Does it compare to Pinot’s in the $40 and higher range? No, but I would not really expect it to.  That search will have to continue for another day but for now I can say we had a lovely weekday meal with a reasonably priced wine that was thoroughly enjoyed and disappeared quickly.  ¡SALUD!