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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Franciscan 2007 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay

Cuvee Sauvage 001Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay is a delightful and distinctive wine from Franciscan Estate in Napa Valley. Grapes from the cool Carneros area and Franciscan’s top vineyards are used.

We opened this bottle up right before heading out to Colorado for a vacation combining a visit with family and some skiing. Green Dragon isn’t wild about Chardonnay, but this was chilled and ready to sip as we enjoyed the spirit of the holidays.

“Sauvage” is French for savage, but the wine is far from beastly. In this case it refers to the use of wild fermentation.

Franciscan was the first Napa Valley winery to produce a wild yeast-fermented Chardonnay, starting in 1987. Yeast is not added, but instead the native yeast that live on the grapes perform the fermentation. Unlike cultured yeast, wild yeast comes in many strains, reflective of the vineyard terroir. In each experience we’ve had with Chardonnay made with the wild fermentation, it has a more complex and robust flavor.

The wine has a deep golden color in the glass. On the nose there is fresh citrus. It is a rich, rewarding experience on the palate. Cuvée Sauvage is full and the oaking (14 months in French Oak) seems light and integrated.

Tastes of lemon with beautifully blended oak are part of the delicious experience. I must confess I am a fan of Orville Redenbacher – but I don’t believe my taste buds were deceived: Cuvée Sauvage tastes like buttered popcorn.

So flip on a seasonal film like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and enjoy a heaping helping of Cuvée Sauvage – with extra butter! It’s a top pick for Chardonnay.

Rating: 4 of 5  Value: 3 of 5 (Costs between $34 and $43 retail.)

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