A Tale of Two Vintages: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

"With affection beaming out of one eye, and calculation shining out of the other." ~ Charles Dickens 

This quote many us know comes from a "Tale of Two Cities" where in Mr. Dickens wonderful prose evocatively relates to the reader, a vivid comparison and contrast of two cities that had much more in common than either could have imagined. 

So it is with that in mind that I want to dive into a comparison and contrast of two different vintages from the same producer. One has fawning approval from the folks over at WE, who have dubbed it an "Editors Choice" and the other hand is their "newly" released 2008 which is once more sporting the "crest" label, tossing aside the old familiar label with the grape-press [seen above].

I was sent a sample of the 2008 [full disclosure] with the new label you see pictured above. I went out to my local Costco here in San Diego and picked-up [purchased for $17.99] the 2007 with the old label.

Why? I did so because I wanted to make a comparison and contrast of the two vintages.  To draw a line of distinction; between the highly touted 2007 [fawning praise] and the yet to be reviewed 2008 [A review which you will see here first]. So yes, I'd like to say a scoop-alert is currently in progress; once more demonstrating  the power of the [agile] New-Media  [citizen bloggers] versus our traditional glossy-magazine counter-parts [dinosaurs]. 

I want to preface this review with the following statement; I am a fan of Franciscan wines [overall] and have been for quite a while. When I started drinking wine [7 years ago], I started collecting labels from the bottles I enjoyed greatly, first up in my book was a 2004 Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Underneath each label, I would scrawl-out a few unsophisticated notes about why this-or-that wine had made-the-cut to be in my wine scrap-book [geek]. This book became part of the genesis of how this blog got started in the first place. So yes, I still scrawl out unsophisticated notes and blather [drone] on and on about wine, but now it's done via a keyboard and a few well placed snapshots instead of scraping labels [okay, I still sometime do that].    

In today's review spotlight, two wines. The first is the 2007 and the second is the 2008 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:

2007 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: I popped the cork on this wine last night and decanted for a hour or so before giving it a swirl. This wine is still pretty tight even after decanting. In the glass great garnet color like my an old beret I once wore. The nose is mostly muted except for some earthy tones and dark plum aromas. The wine has great structure, it's a bit austere at the moment, but you really get a sense of how much finesse is ready to be unleashed for those who are patient. You do get the typical earthy, pencil lead, mocha, dark cherry, black berry and a load of ripe plum flavors.

But the finish is a bit shorter than I anticipated. I think you should lay it down for 6 months to a year. The WE score was 94, but my score would be a solid 90 points. I just was not as wowed as I thought I would be. This wine can be purchased at your local Costco.

2008 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: This is the wine I received as a sample for the review process. The one thing that was surprising to me is that both wines have the identical ABV percentage. Both wines are blended with 13-14 percent of Merlot, both spent the same time maturing in oak. But where the difference lies for me between the two is that the 2008 has a bright beam of red cherries, cocoa, rich earth, fresh leather and a shot of tar, leading to a plush finish. A much rounder mouth feel over-all, and loads of low-hanging fruit.

The folks I shared it with thought, "oh-wow great juice" [I concur]. I also decanted this wine in a similar decanter as the 2007 for about hour or so. One other difference; the 2008 has just a drop of Cab-Franc, while the 2007 does not. This wine also has great structure and will improve with some aging [don't go crazy]. But really, why lay it down as it's drinking rather fab right now.

A wine which paired nicely with grilled meats [NY Strip] or even perfect-partner for a burger and fries night while watching classically bad B-movies. My score for this wine is 92 points and gets my coveted drink now and drink often recommendation. This wines SRP is $27, it looks like the folks at Bevmo have the 08 in stock for $22, but they still have the old label pictured. I would call to make sure.

So that's all I got for you today, if you have had both vintages and would like to comment below, it would be great to hear from you, until then sip long and prosper, cheers!


Scott said…
Hey Bill-

Hope you are well. Following your adventures on the blog as usual and sounds like you had a good time in Spain and Washington!! I also rather enjoyed the 2008 Cab from Franciscan and recommended it as a very good buy for the money. I found it interesting to see recently that WS gave it a slapping 82 points. Here is another case where scores seem a bit arbitrary. The bottle we enjoyed had structure, nice fruit, good tertiary flavors... you know, tasty and well made. Anyway, glad to see you concur with the 'right' side on this wine, well worth the $20!!

Cheers, Scott
Will Eyer said…
Hey Scott,

Great to hear from you, life is good here, how's your world? Spain and Washington were a blast, Spain was a game changer for me personally.

Huh, the WS panned this wine huh? Funny they don't recognize a well made tasty wine, arbitrary scores maybe. But I'm sensing something a little more nefarious is afoot, when in doubt follow the money.

Glad to hear you liked the "08" as well, I thought it beat the 07 hands down, the score I gave was not indicative of a close game. Have you sampled the 07?



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