Franciscan Oakville Estate Magnificat 2003

Price: $50
Maker: Franciscan Oakville Estate, Rutherford, California
Varietal: Red Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14.1 %
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10

We opened our bottle of Franciscan Oakville Estate Magnificat 2003 as a Christmas dinner treat to accompany a standing rib roast. This is a more costly wine than we usually comment on here, and we looked forward to experiencing a big red – this is a Meritage blend, ostensibly the best of the best, and it weighs in at a hefty 14.1% alcohol level, higher than a typical cab. While I wasn’t able to track down the blending proportions for the 2003 Magnificat, the 2005 vintage was almost three-quarters Cabernet Sauvignon with almost all of the rest Merlot; the Malbec and Petit Verdot were only a percent or two each.

This Meritage blend has a deep ruby color, and offers a bright and explosive berry aroma. On the palate, plum and black cherry notes combine with chocolate. There wasn’t a lot of pepper or spice in the finish, but the finish was long with plenty of chewy tannins. Although I uncorked the wine well in advance of the first pour, it wasn’t until the bottle was partially consumed and the wine had still more air that it really came into its own. I’d suggest ample breathing opportunity, or even decanting.

Around the Web, Grape Thoughts found the 2001 Franciscan Magnificat to be “magnificent.”

Overall, this wine didn’t disappoint – it offered good structure and complexity, and certainly held its own with flavorful prime rib. Would I run out and buy more at $50? Hard to say. Despite the fact that expensive wine tastes better, for my palate, at least, the Franciscan Magnificat 2003 wasn’t that much better than some wines costing half as much or less. (On the other hand, perhaps I need to spend more time drinking wines in this price range and higher to expand my appreciation for their presumed subtleties.) In any case, if the price isn’t off-putting, you’ll find this wine to be a solid choice.

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