The Ranch at Las Colinas And Franciscan Estate Team Up for Release of New Wine Vintage

ranchby Andrew Chalk

Franciscan Estate is a winery with a long history in the heart of California’s Napa Valley. The last few years has seen something of a frenzy of innovation as owner Constellation Brands seeks to reposition it as a more upmarket product. I think that, given the possibilities and the cost realities of the Napa Valley, this is a wise idea. Last week, Franciscan introduced the new vintage of their wines at a public dinner at The Ranch At Las Colinas and they are impressive. I was fortunate to be an invited media guest at the event. 

Two top reds are a Bordeaux-style blend named Magnificat ($50, and a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon named Stylus ($75 direct). The latter, made since 2005, is the winery’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are young at the present time but display both power and finesse. The Magnificat was originally called ‘Wine Waiting For a Name’ because the fact that it is a blend meant that it could not call itself after any single grape variety. The creation of the category ‘Meritage’, to describe Bordeaux blends from California, solved the anonymity problem.



Also impressive is the 2011 Franciscan Chardonnay Cuvée Sauvage, Carneros, Napa ($40, direct). It is a big, barrel-fermented, wine with substantial well integrated oak. It has been staple in the Franciscan lineup since 1987. Before that we had a wine that is so rare (formerly sold only at the winery) that there is no mention of it on the company web site. The 2012 Equilibrium is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (the dominant character) and trace amounts of Chardonnay and Muscat. It is tempting to say that this is Franciscan’s Conundrum. A dry white wine with more fruit flavor than straight Sauvignon Blanc but a different flavor profile from Chardonnay. Hopefully, it will start showing up on retail shelves or as a direct buy.

Wine is made to be paired with food of course. Ranch execuchef Grant Morgan prepared a 5-course menu of significant ‘paleosity’ (to use an adjective that is not released yet) for the attendees. Full menu below (although it glosses over the considerable amount of local sourcing that he is doing), but the inside word is that the oxtail knocked it out of the park.

First Course
Grilled Venison, Dried Bread & Horseradish Cream
Equilibrium 2012: Franciscan’s signature white blend
Second Course
Mesquite Smoked Suckling Pig, Roasted Corn & Grilled Texas Tomatoes
Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay, Carneros 2011, fermented with wild yeast
Third Course
Smoked Duck Breast, Texas Arugula, Figs, Spiced Pecans & Round Rock Honey and Sage Vinaigrette
Magnificat Meritage, a Bordeaux Style Blend from Napa Valley
Fourth Course
Braised Oxtail, Texas Goat Cheese Grits, Grilled Okra
Pan Demi Stylus, an exclusive 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fifth Course
Wild Berry Corn Bread Buckle, Frozen Sweet Cream and Texas Pecan Praline
choice of Inniskillin Vidal or Riesling Ice wine


Leave a comment

Filed under Andrew Chalk, Wine

Leave a Reply