Don’t judge a Francis Ford Coppola wine by its bottle

Cars pass through the entrance to the Francis Ford Coppola Vineyard.

Ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? This is usually something my friends will tell me before a blind date (because I am all about keeping an open mind these days), but the same can be said for a bottle of wine I suppose. This week I am out to prove that what’s inside can reveal a lot more than a first glance. So whether you’re looking for a great new wine find, or hoping this week’s match.com date will not be another dud, relax, give it a chance and above all have fun with it.

Roaming through the wine store, you’ll come across a ton of labels that sometimes do a disservice to the wine inside the bottle. You can buy “Fat Bastard”, “The Prisoner” or even a wine labeled “Bitch” nowadays. But that shouldn’t stop you from doubting the quality of many of these wines.

A few years ago I remember scoffing at the notion that Francis Ford Coppola could produce a good wine. Here we go again I thought, another celebrity slapping his name on a product to make even more money. “Stick to directing buddy, you have to make up for ‘Godfather III’ eventually,” I thought. But that’s not the case at all. Winemaking runs through generations of the Coppola family, and the Godfather has established himself as a reputable winemaker showcasing the best Sonoma County’s grapes and terroir have to offer. Check out franciscoppolawinery.com to see why this will be my next vacation spot-it is Disneyworld for wine lovers!

This week I am drinking Francis Ford Coppola “Director’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.” It is a single varietal, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic on the nose with floral and dark berry notes, it is dry but still lively on the palette. I was surprised by the luscious, juicy feel of this wine on the mouth, I usually like my Cabernet a little more austere, but this was very well balanced and a great example of the differences in a California Cabernet when compared to those of the old world tradition. Aging in both French and American oak lends soft smooth tannins to the wine, which is full of ripe, dark fruit like blackberries, plum and cherry. I let the wine breathe a bit and after another sip or two enjoy hints of spice, toast and coffee for a medium to long finish.

It’s funny because I think my original bias against Coppola’s wine may be shared by many. I picked this up for $17 at New Golden Wine & Liquors in Bayside, Queens (probably around $20 in Manhattan), and when I purchased it I asked the store manager what he thought. “It’s actually pretty good” he said and I knew right away he had read my mind. I’d like to try more from the Director’s collection and at this price why wouldn’t I? The “Cinema” blend looks particularly interesting and is the “Director’s Cut” collection flagship wine.

I think I’ll grab a few more bottles, invite some friends over and have a movie marathon to pay homage to the vintner of this delicious Cab…


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