Dinner at Franciscan

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Fountain at FranciscanI love that mapNow, at this point you are probably thinking, ” How many more posts can Gretchen possibly get out of the activities of Saturday, July, 25th?” Yes, I have managed to wring four separate entries out of this one day. But I think you will agree that it was an action packed day. And yet, the day was not over.

We headed out on Bus #7 for Franciscan. We were greeted at the door by Jay Turnipseed, a newlywed and one of the winemakers at Franciscan offered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (I see a theme emerging, eh?). Over our glass of wine we chatted with Jay about his unusual last name (given to the family at Ellis Island though it was a literal translation of the family name in Germany), workplace romances (he met his wife when she worked in the lab at the winery) and wine. Soon we headed into dinner.

Franciscan Dinner menuAt each place setting were seven glasses and a menu.

The first course, a dungeness crab, endive and avocado salad with a creamy lemon vinaigrette was served with the 2006 Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage. This wine was made of 100% Chardonnay grapes and fermented with wild yeast and aged 18 months sur lie in new oak barrels. The texture of the wine matched the creaminess of the vinaigrette.

Wine DinnerThree Cheers for Chef Boris OlveraThe next course was grilled New York steak served with a red wine mushroom glaze (Which was so good that I wanted to lick my plate, but did not to stay Klassy.), served with “crushed” (I say mashed, but whatever) pancetta potatos. (Winos, er, wine lovers love bacon) The wines served with this were the 2005 Franciscan Magnificat which was a lovely Bordeaux-like blend, the 2006 Blackbird Illustration a Merlot-centric blend and the 2006 Blackbird Arise (all Merlot) (both of these are listed as “Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine”s which confuses me. what does that mean? The Illustration being a blend didn’t catch my attention, but the Arise is single varietal what makes it any more than any other wine?), the 2005 Bourassa Vineyard Reserve Symphony3, the 2006 Bourassa Reserve Petite Sirah and finally the 2005 Corison Cabernet. We were in heaven. Good food, great wine and superb conversation.

Cathy CorisonWine DinnerSitting next to me at dinner was none other than Cathy Corison, the winemaker of the Corison Cabernet that we were drinking. We talked about her approach to wine making (her grapes are grown organically), her background in wine (she went to Davis to get her degree in Enology, family (she is the mother of two teenagers) and social media (she, like most winemakers, hasn’t had a lot of time to absorb the impact of the new media). During the dinner, winemakers from the other wines that were poured came to the tables or spoke to the group about their wineries. Though I am indeed generalizing, I thought that their discussions of wine were pointedly very different than what I learned from Cathy. In her case, she views the wine that she produces to be an expression of their vineyards and her wines show that. They were far and away the best of the evening. Somehow, I didn’t get that same sense the other winemakers (who were all male). There seemed to be more machismo in their approaches to wine and that definitely translated into products. Is that a difference between male and female winemakers? I don’t know but I have begun to think about it more.

We ended our evening at Franciscan with coffee and cupcakes ready to attend the after party. Yes, you heard it. MORE WINE! and maybe a little absinthe.

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