This coming Thursday, the 23rd of March, we will be tasting the 2012 vintage of Magnificat, one of the original Meritage wines from the creation of that category in 1985. This vintage is 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec. The grapes are sourced from Franciscan's best Napa Valley vineyards and aged for twenty months in 70% new oak barrels. This vintage received 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Magnificat is named after the Bach masterpiece so you would expect complexity and more. If the reviews on the internet are to mean anything then they reflect that complexity to a fault; that is, every review sites different flavors and aromas, which, to put a good slant on it, means the wine oozes complexity and defies easy description. I guess maybe it could have been reviewed at different times too to account for the divergent observations. The great New York retailer Sherry-Lehman may have stated it best with "multi-layered, remarkably complex, impressive array of aromas and flavors." The most common color description noted is "garnet".
In 1985 the great twentieth century wine giant, Agustin Huneeus (blogposts 1/31/13, 4/7/15), bought a floundering and thoroughly mediocre Franciscan Vineyards and instantly turned around their fortunes. In the 1985 inaugural year for Meritage wines Magnificat was one of two dozen offered in the category. A Meritage red by definition is the best wine a California estate can make using all or any of the Bordeaux blending grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot.
In 1999 Huneeus sold Franciscan Vineyards to Constellation Brands, the second largest wine company in the world (after Gallo). It is now operated as part of a separate division of the company dedicated to prestigious northern California Estates and has been re-christened Franciscan Estates.