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Franciscan fresh
The Franciscan 2009 Chardonnay doesn't hide away the fact that it spent seven months on oak.

I was recently lamenting that one of my favorite refreshing wine varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, had become tiresome for me.

My recent tastes have been predictable – grassy, green, citrusy. Refreshing, by all means – but the flavors from one maker to another had begun to run together.

Then I tried the newest vintage, 2009, from Napa Valley producer Franciscan.

There was still that brightness, that tartness that I find some appealing in Sauvignon Blanc. But there was more. It wasn’t a blending grape – this is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc...where are those notes...

Aaaah, that little touch of complexity, of roundness that I loved came from oak!

Oh, it’s not much, mind you – especially when compared to the oak regimen of Franciscan’s Chardonnay. The Sauvignon Blanc bottling contains a scant 10 percent oaked juice – and then it’s aged in neutral French oak.

Neutral – that mans the oak has been used before and pretty much reached the end of its flavor–producing lifespan. Still, it’s just enough.

The lime and grapefruit notes are there, but a discerning palate will also detect vanilla, honeydew melon and juicy guava. A hint of minerality lends itself to a clean finish and a mouthwatering influence.

Franciscan is not a label that trips off the tongue, but has been making wines for more than three decades. Its current winemaker, Janet Myers, is clearly putting her mark on the wines and continuing a legacy with grace and self–confidence.

The Franciscan 2009 Chardonnay doesn’t hide away the fact that it spent seven months on oak – with 20 percent of the juice languishing in bold, new French barrels.

Frankly, I like the tactile strength of oak in my Chardonnay – although there must also be a carefully managed balance of fruit, minerality and acid. Apple and pear notes stand forward in this wine, and, of course, expect some creaminess, toastiness and silky mouthfeel that comes from oaked Chard.

I wasn’t that familiar with the Franciscan label, but be assured it will be on the watch list during future wine buying jaunts!

Food and Wine Experience

This popular charity event is back – set aside Sunday, Feb. 27, 5–8 p.m. The tasting of more than 156 wines and food samples from a growing list of Savannah area chefs and restaurants will be held at Savannah Tech on White Bluff Road.
Proceeds will benefit the wounded and their families of the Hunter Army Airfield 75th Ranger Regiment Association.

 Tickets are $35 in advance; $40 at the door, and can be purchased at Johnnie Ganem Package Shop, both locations of Habersham Beverage, Jeff’s Beverage Depot, Coastal Beverage Warehouse, Whitemarsh Beverage and Largo Superstore. Call (912) 980–5050 for information.