The Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a wine with a very particular story. The Franciscan winery was founded in the 1970s, started with humble beginnings, and rose to become a well-respected winery. Over the years, ownership has changed hands several times, and the last change is the subject of this story.
Franciscan Estates is now a brand and not a winery with production facilities and associated vineyards. They still produce high-quality wine, the Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 lists for $22.99, and other wines in the portfolio sold for $50 to $70.
Franciscan was a part of the Constellation Brands family of wines. Constellation is a large company with a wide range of wine, spirits, and beer. Constellation concentrated on mid to high-end products and sold their value-priced brands to E & J Gallo, the largest American wine company. The deal was completed in the first part of 2021, so the Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is an in-between wine.
Constellation Brands no longer own and sell Franciscan Estates, and it will not completely be an E & J Gallo wine until the 2021 vintage. Every city in the US may be different, but the distributor for Constellation Brands is probably not the distributor for Gallo.
The Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 routinely sells online for $19.99 to $23, and the 2019 vintage sells in the same price range. Binny’s in Chicago and the Midwest for $9.99, and I am unsure if that price will last into September. This is a legitimate $20 Cabernet Sauvignon selling for half price.
Gallo has the Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 on their website, but with scant technical information. Even if you pay for shipping, this is a bargain. This Cabernet was made during the Constellation Brands era, so it is not surprising Gallo does not have much to say.
The twenty-dollar range is where California Cabernet Sauvignon starts to be produced, much like the expensive Cabs. The grapes go through a more intense extraction process, the fermentation is more detailed, and the oak barrel aging is longer and with better quality oak. The 2018 Franciscan Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in oak barrels for 20 months; I expect the Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 to be close to that.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the ten dollar price range is typically produced to come together in a shorter time frame, and any oak finishing is strictly for flavoring. I like ten buck Cabs, but they are a different drinking experience than the more expensive Cabernets.
I am not sure why Binny’s has this wine for 1/2 price, and other retailers do not, but a bargain is a bargain. Binny’s also has other brands involved in the sale of these brands at close-out prices. I have heard good things about the Cab; people thought highly of it at full price. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Tasting Notes
The Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 has an engaging mouthfeel, and the flavors have some weight. The color is a barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is rich and deep; there is blackberry, molasses, black pepper, lightly smokey, bright spice, and raspberry.
It tastes like extracted, rich blackberry, licorice, dark, bitter chocolate, black pepper, and black cherry. The mid-palate adds some chewy tannins. A real California Cabernet Sauvignon needs tannins; many value-priced Cabs have their tannins softened or reduced, a little orange zest spice, and a late slap of cooling sweet blueberry.
This is drink-it-now wine, but it has enough bright acidity and bold flavors that would bring excellent results cellaring for a year or two. Or you can take it home and pop the top; it works both ways.
- A solid $20 Cabernet Sauvignon selling for 1/2 price is not a tough descion.
- The Franciscan Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 tastes great and is an excellent choice at its original list price of $22.99.
- $9.99 is an even better price!