Barrel tasting weekend, Sonoma Valley. Finally. To the surprise of many, St. Francis Winery, the valley’s house of big reds, chose not to participate. I asked one of the staff members why, she told me, “To provide better customer service, and a better experience for everyone.” For those sporting bracelets, the Frannie poured their 2010 Sonoma County Chardonnay and the 2007 Anthem, a Meritage reversed with Petit Verdot and Malbec as the dominant varietals. For people just wanting to delight in one of the regular flights, Artisan or Staff Favorites, all wines were at ready, with a couple surprises behind the bar poured at the pourer’s discretion. Some of these unexpected treasure features included a 2007 Cabernet Franc, the 2009 Montecillo Zinfandel, 2009 Bacchi Zinfandel, that ’09 Sonoma Valley Syrah dubbed “Trouble,” and a 2004 Lagomarsino Cabernet from the library (which was rumored to be less than 36 bottles remaining) aside and atop a formation of other formidable bottles.
The weather, not as wine country-y as we’d like, but “We’ll take it over the rain we had yesterday,” said a woman visiting from Southern California. And because of all the sky’s pourings yesterday, the little stream in front of the winery was aflow, which is only seen following storms significant. I wasn’t the only one agape with this occasional brook. People were taking pictures of EVERYTHING, of each other by the tower, by the statue of St. Francis himself (called “Frank” by some staff soldiers). How could you not, on the day of barrel tasting, without the frantic fray? Everyone could be heard praising St. Fran for not jumping on the bracelet wagon. The crowds weren’t those kinds of crowds, just wine lovers, Frannie fans, in attendance for the wines; And the day itself, one with no rain. Perfect profile. Atmospherically, oenologically. Well done, Frannie fam!