St. Francis Winery
Santa Rosa, CA
$21.88 at Whole Foods, Austin, TX
Color: Dark dirty ruby
Nose: Creamy orange, licorice
Middle: Mocha, almonds
Back: Soft tannins, blackberries
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Fake cork (plastic)
I've been drinking St. Francis Cabernet for about a year now, pretty regularly. They have it at J. Alexander's in Nashville, where you can see such rising alternative musical luminaries as Matt King and Denitia Odigie dining with the staff of their record labels and such. This stuff is from just over the hills from Napa, but it tastes completely different; it's still big, but not a bully, and while the flavors are rich, they've got a French sort of subtle complexity to them.
St. Francis was one of the wineries I visited back in May. While there, I had a chance to taste many of their other wines, and two things were memorable. First, I enjoyed this Sonoma Valley cab more than I did the single-vineyard cab (Nuns Canyon) they let us taste. Second, one of the reasons I like it so much turns out to be that it's got a good dose of their Cabernet Franc, which is superb, in it; unfortunately, I think the Cab Franc may only be available from the winery.
My pot roast isn't ready yet, but I can smell it preparing itself to be eaten, and it's going to go superbly with this wine.
A note on the price range: I've been getting this for $17-19 regularly; it should be possible to find the current vintage for under $20 (especially in the coming months).
Note, 15 January 2010: I had the 2005 last night and it's delicious; it was different, and still good, tonight after simple corking. The oakiness is under control, balanced nicely with plummy and spicy flavors
Note, 15 November 2014: The 2008 is lovely, rich, and chocolatey, though a bit out of balance; good with something grilled, perhaps?