Thursday, August 22, 2013




By Dwight Casimere

NAPA VALLEY, CA—Labor Day Weekend is typically considered the end of summer, but in reality, some of the best days, in terms of weather and overall desirable climate, are still ahead.

There are still plenty of days and warm, mild nights ahead for lingering on the patio or in the garden with the sound of simmering barbecue coals crackling in the background or to experience the subtle smell of a savory tagine simmering in
Its earthenware pot or the smell of a mildly spicy traditional Thai stew or whole fish with Tamarind sauce wafting from the kitchen or the unmistakable aroma of Indonesian peanut sauce of Chicken or Lamb Satay skewers gently charring on the grill.
What a perfect time to crack open a bottle that brings forth the taste and aroma of the heart of the Napa Valley, Franciscan Equilibrium 2012 ($23).

This is a bracingly fresh blend of white wine grapes that, when you first twist the easy-to-open Stelvin (screwtop) closure, you immediately get a rush of aroma, redolent of the grape fields that line the sides of the road along Highway 29, as you pass through Oakville, in the heart of the Napa Valley. These are some of the lush, ripe grapes that make the wines of America’s premium wine growing region so coveted. Franciscan is one of the pioneers of California winemaking, and Equilibrium is the capstone of their collective 40 years of winemaking primacy.

Director of winemaking Janet Myers and her superlative winemaking team have achieved an enviable state of equipoise with this exquisite wine. “Equilibrium means harmony and balance and that’s what we’ve created here with this blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc , 17% of Chardonnay and 11% Muscat.”  The Sauvignon Blanc is the dominant grape, but the other grapes, all harvested from small lots from Franciscans choice vineyards clustered in the heart of Napa Valleys prime Oakville region, harmonize to create a singularly stunning effect.  “This is a fun wine that we debuted this summer with the 2012 vintage,” Myers expounded.  “Each of the components is doing something special to the wine.The 72% Sauvignon Blanc gives it the  lime and grapefruit notes,  17% Chardonnay  gives it thebackbone and richness  you’d expect from a Napa Valley wine. The cherry on top is the 11% Muscat, which gives it the white peach and jasmine notes.  The result if a light, semi-sweet wine that has a nice richness on the palate. This is a flavor that lets the wine go from crab dip and seafood, to salads and other light fare, all the way up to spicy Thai food. When you first open the bottle,  the smell of jasmine and the taste of white peach is really evident. The real bonus is that little bit of lychee, that’s from the Muscat, it gives it a little hint of honey in the back of your mouth, that makes it really special and easy on the palate.
This is really a great wine to toast the last days of summer.”
One of my favorite dishes for a light brunch in the garden is Crab Avocado Salad. I substitute a bit of the Equilibrium wine for vinegar and use the scooped out avocado as the serving vessel.  It's the perfect treat as you twist off the cap of Franciscan Equilibrium 2012. Yummy!

Crab Avocado Salad Recipe
Serves 4

4 medium Hass avocados
1 lb fresh lump crab meat
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
2 Tbsp Franciscan Equilibrium
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 Tbsp  finely chopped tarragon
1/2 tsp Mediterranean sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Then split avocados in half, carefully remove and discard the large pit. Carefully scoop out avocado meat, chop into small pieces and add it to the crab. Gently scoop the entire mixture into the hollowed out avocado shells. Serve on your best Fiesta ware and enjoy with Franciscan Equilibrium 2012!

 Franciscan Director of Wine Janet Myers
Below: The lush vineyards of Franciscan winery in Oakville-photo by Dwight Casimere
Crab avocado salad

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