St. Francis delivers consistently good wine that’s very easy to enjoy, with or without food, honestly, as I found in this continued process of tasting their wines.
2010 Sonoma County Chardonnay
The winemakers have shared that despite its many challenges, the 2010 harvest produced fruit with exceptional quality.
“A long, cool growing season delayed ripening but gave fruit plenty of time to develop complex flavors and aromas. A heat spike in August allowed grapes to reach full maturity with sugar levels slightly lower than usual. As a result, our wines show a bit of restraint but exhibit true elegance, balance, and rich, concentrated flavors.”
Grapes that produce the St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay come from their estate Lagomarsino Vineyard in Russian River Valley. Add to that… also from growers in Sonoma County’s other top appellations, including Sonoma Valley, Carneros and Alexander Valley. Each carefully selected vineyard contributes distinctive and individual qualities to the finished wine, and the winemakers get to blend the best of the best.
Fruit for this Chardonnay was picked at night, which preserves the wine’s delicate flavors, aromas, and acidity. (Picked in the heat of the day, lots of these attributes are lost in the process. The grapes were then pressed 100 percent whole cluster, and fermented in different lots. Aging was for six months in 100 percent French oak barrels, with the lees being stirred by hand to produce the rich mouthfeel that this wine has. Finally, the wine experienced partial malolactic fermentation, which made this wine very smooth and easy to enjoy.
NOSE: I found tropical fruits like pineapple and Meyer lemons.
PALATE: I got lots of Golden apples and ripe Bosc pears. Rich fruit with a really creamy texture…
FINISH: Apples with Butterscotch lingering.
This is a very pleasant wine that’s a crowd pleaser, great for your last days of summer entertaining…
The other half of that entertaining could easily be the 2008 St. Francis Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, and get ready for a blockbuster 15. 5 percent alcohol. Can you say “ribs,” baby?
This wine was harvested under really difficult conditions, but the winemaking team at St. Francis doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
“It was a year of extremes with frost, fluctuating temperatures and strong winds visiting us the first half of the year. Luckily, July and August brought relief, and we had two months of warm, dry weather. Harvest arrived early due to a heat spike in August, which pushed grapes to full ripeness. In the end, we had smaller yields, but extraordinary flavors and complexity.”
The grapes in their Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel come from vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Dry Creek Valley. These vines range in age from 55 to 100 years, producing low yields of fruit with highly concentrated, intense flavors. As I said… a blockbuster…
All of the grapes were hand-harvested, gently destemmed, and then crushed before a cold-soak for three days. This process extracts intense color and flavor. The fruit was inoculated with many different yeast strains to build complexity, and then fermented in separate lots using a combination of pump-overs and racking to soften the tannins. Malolactic fermentation happened in 50 percent of their American and 50 percent of French oak barrels, 25 percent of which was new oak.
NOSE: Great aromas of ripe blackberries and cracked black pepper spice.
PALATE: Marion Berries just dripping with ripeness and flavor, a touch of cigar, and tons of black pepper.
FINISH: Long and lingering… making it a wine that doesn’t necessarily need food, but does need a few friends. It’s too good to enjoy alone, only to try to explain it to your friends, and have them wondering why you didn’t share it.
As I noted… consistently yummy wine for fun times.