Thursday, February 09, 2006

Franciscan Magnificat – A Magnificent Wine

Though the name doesn’t say it directly, the feeling is there. Franciscan Magnificat is a magnificent wine. But until you've tried the wine for yourself it is only a name, not nearly as sweet.

Franciscan Magnificat is one of the original California red table wines known as a Meritage. In fact legend has it that the term Meritage was coined by the Franciscan winery to describe the newly created blend of wines from their Napa Valley Estates. (Meritage rhymes with heritage). The wines creator, Andre Tchelistcheff, one of Napa Valley’s most famous winemakers, was inspired by the great Bordeaux wines. He felt that Franciscan’s Oakville Estates had what it took to produce a world class wine. Franciscan Magnificat is his proof.

For each vintage the Franciscan winery compose Magnificat, a red Meritage wine that best expresses the unique terroir of the Oakville Estate. Blending creates a harmonious wine which is ultimately more than each of its individual elements: Cabernet Sauvignon for structure, Merlot for suppleness, and Cabernet Franc for spice and aroma. Determining the exact composition of the final blend is an art form, making each vintage distinctive and unique.

The vintage I had the pleasure to sample was the 2001. Full, round, richly flavored and balanced. The wine has deep, ripe fruit characters with hints of vanilla and spice. It finishes with rich but soft tannins and sweet mouth feel from the oak. The harmonious blend and structured allow the wine to drink now or cellar for long aging. For me this is always a tough decision, a wine this enjoyable is hard not to drink. I guess that’s why cellars are in dark places, out of sight out of mind. But for now Franciscan Magnificat is top of mind so cheers to the next magnificent glass.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sagelands Merlot - Worth Every Penny

Though Pinot Noir seems to be the fashionable wine currently, the number one selling red varietals in the US is still Merlot. For producing domestic Merlots, the state to find them is Washington. A close cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot thrives in slightly cooler conditions than its cousin, giving Washington State a natural growing advantage. While many fine Merlots are produced in the state of Washington, one producer year after year is mentioned by Wine Spectator for its flavor and value. After drinking Sagelands Merlot you’ll agree, the wine is worth every penny. So at ten bucks a bottle, Sagelands Merlot allow you to save money but still enough a quality bottle of wine.

Located in the "Four Corners" region of Washington State's Columbia Valley (Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills and Walla Walla Valley) Sagelands vineyards have emerged as superb growing regions for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Developing strong relationships with local growers and supervising the cultivation of its vineyard sources assures Sagelands Vineyard an outstanding palette of top quality grapes with which to create wines of impressive quality and value.

Wine making at Sagelands is managed by a native of Provence, France, named Frederique. She went to Perpignan University in southern France to study agriculture. While in college she began visiting wineries and discussing wine, and soon realized she could combine her two loves of farming and wine by becoming a winemaker. Frederique earned a degree in agronomy and then continued her studies in winemaking for two years at Toulouse University, , graduating "with distinction" in enology and viticulture

Frederique Spencer says one of the best things about her job is she's always trying to improve. "We're always trying something new in the vineyard to make the best wine," says Frederique. "And every year we learn something about winemaking. You never stop learning."
That desire to learn and improve has lead to the annual production of a consistently quality Merlot, the 2002 vintage is no exception. This bright garnet-color Merlot displays a vibrant nose of ripe Bing cherry and mixed berries with notes of violet and cocoa. This delicate and medium-bodied wine shows a great deal of flavors like Bing cherry, vanilla and a splash of blueberry. The palate is very soft and round thanks to fine tannins. The fruit expression lingers on a pleasing finish.

Sagelands Merlot is a perfect wine for any occasion. You really can’t go wrong with a wine recognized for quality and consistency, or when the varietal was grown in the best region of the country and depending on the season perhaps the world. But perhaps the best reason to have Sagelands Merlot on hand is the value, even if your guest aren’t wine lovers you won’t hesitate to open another bottle of this enjoyable wine, it’s easy to afford another bottle.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prosecco - Italian for Bubbly

Something a little bubbly can be a nice way to round out a meal. While champagne can be nice, I prefer something slightly smoother and lighter. So for my dollar I prefer to quench my bubbly thirst with Italy’s answer to sparkling wines, Prosecco.

Prosecco is of course an excellent aperitif, but it functions as much more. For those in the know, ordering a bottle of Prosecco is instantly proclaiming, you are a person with international flair. Sure, champagne is great for celebrations. And of course if you want bubbles but need to save money there are domestic sparkling wines worth drinking. But if you want to impress, try something new or just want to appear more European, Prosecco is your new drink of choice.

Though many argue Prosecco is often a simple sparkling wine, it does like the domestic sparkling industry, have standout producers. One of the quality producers you can count on year after year is Bisol. If it is your first time experiencing this wine I suggest starting with a bottle of Bisol Crede Prosecco.

In the glass the wine is brilliant straw yellow accented by a parade of small, persistent bubbles. But it is the nose of the wine that grabs the imagination. Scents of wildflowers are intense and fresh, hinting at notes of fruitiness. So once you finally sip the wine the bouquet has already prepared you for the palate pleasing flavors of apple, citrus, and peach. Overall Bisol Crede Prosecco has a medium body wine with a clean, fresh finish.

If this is your first introduction to Prosecco I suggest you hurry out and sample a bottle. If you know about Prosecco but are yet to try it, I suggest you hurry out and sample a bottle. But if you’ve already experienced a nice glass of Prosecco, I say to you cheers, here’s to your next glass.