Tuesday, September 22, 2009

*** $ RED Wine, St. Francis WInery, 2004, Sonoma, CA - Wine Review and Rating

Original Review, July, 2007: This is an interesting value blend from St. Francis, consisting of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and zinfandel, all from Sonoma County vineyards. The labels from "RED" are notable in themselves, designed by Jeffrey Caldewey. Each bottle in a full case sports a slightly different red splotch, allowing for collectable labels that still hang together as a distinctive theme.

As to the winemaking, winemaker Tom Mackey plays it much more cheeky, arguing, "It’s my job to worry about clones, soil conditions, vintage and vinification. No lessons needed." Well, ok, I hear Mr. Mackey, but the lack of transparency doesn't excite many of us who would like to know about the craft that goes into the bottle, not just the flavors that come out of it. Oh, yes, and perhaps there's even a connection between the two!

So, in spite of opaque winemaking, here's what flows from the St. Francis RED bottle:

In the glass, it is a transparent cherry walnut color. Aromas are fruity and peppery, seeming to pick up the zinfandel varietal most, even though the blend is a mere 4% zin. The aroma also seems somewhat plummy and hot, hotter perhaps in aroma than the 13.5% actual alcohol level would suggest.

On the palate, think dusty plums plus red currants up front. There is a beefy fruit middle and shortish-length finish. Not memorable, but pleasant overall.
Updated Review, over two years later, September, 2009: So now we've allowed a couple of additional years of age on this value-priced wine... a wine that was never intended for the ages. Caveat on this, also, the two years of aging was less than wine-cellar perfect. It spent a few months one year at room temperature.

Nonetheless, let's see what we've got here: Still a bright, cherry walnut in color. You get a slight orange tint right at the edge, but not otherwise showing its age. Yummy, bold, luscious aromas - full of red cherry, soft leather, chestnuts and a sandy bottom. Could be a men's cologne.

On the palate, STILL dusty plums, with residual tannins bringing some length in the finish. All in all, though, still a bit disappointing in the palate versus the extraordinary build-up in the aromas. The potent, ageless aroma brings this to a solid three stars, despite my sadness once the liquid hits my lips. At its modest price, this remains a Spirit of Wine best value.

Find St. Francis RED at WineZap.

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