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Winopolis Now - Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers something for everyone

Franciso Ford Coppola Winery - Sonoma County

From Alicante Bouschet to Zinfandel, from deep, tannic wines with a heart of darkness to light and bubbly summertime sparklers, Francis Ford Coppola’s oenological oeuvre offers something to please every crowd.

But do they please the critics? Well, that’s me, I’m the critic, so let’s find out as I taste through some of Coppola’s top-tier wines from Sonoma County.

The acclaimed director’s attention to detail is legend, I’m told during a visit to his Geyserville Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Not only in the production of his films, but to every aspect of a visitor’s experience in his multilevel fun park/museum/culinary destination/wine bar.

Here, you can lounge in a poolside cabine, ogle memorabilia from your favorite films, order a scotch on rocks, and get outfitted in wine country camo before you head 10 klicks further up the river. The Russian River.But wine is different. There’s a sequel to the vintage every year, for one. It falls to winemaker Corey Beck to make each better than the last and, if the curve balls the weather throws him weren’t enough, the boss keeps piling on new wine varietals, brands, and blends.

For goodness sakes, the winery’s bottom-tier, basic, jelly-jar everyday unpretentious wines used to be two: Rosso & Bianco, red and white. But Coppola wasn’t finished with Rosso & Bianco, so now it’s five wines including Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chardonnay, and Shiraz!

Not even the wine stops with wine. You can get a Director’s Cut Cinema and Apocalypse Now Redux DVD ($41.99) combo-pack: “The depth and richness of our Director's Cut Cinema pairs perfectly with the intensity of the film … creating a harmonious match sure to make your next ‘movie night’ a hit.”

Seriously! The “Cinema” is usually pretty good; I don’t have a bottle on hand right now, but the last vintage was a palate-tugging crowd-pleaser gushing with pie-eating contest levels of brambleberry flavor. The “Redux,” well it drags when they meet the French folks, but it’s a must-see in any case.

2012 Director’s Cut Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($21)

The cat-and-rats chase scene that wraps around the bottle (Coppola’s own design, as impractical as it is distinctive), from an antique “Zoetrope” animation, adds some fun to this buy. It’s brisk as it hits the nose with yellow melon rind, while lime, kiwi, and crisp melon flavors tingle the tongue. This is not a “sipper,” this is for taming hot serranos or washing down ceviche. A style that can easily go over the edge to bitter, but this one’s a success.

2011 Director’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($17)

A box of Gravenstein apples aromatically resting in an early fall afternoon, hazelnut, dusty earth. Hint of smokey applewood fire, flavors of firm apples in a lightly baked pie. Better-liked of two Chards: The fruit doesn’t jump out of the glass, but it’s crisp and interesting.

2011 Director’s Cut Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($21)

Caramel, toasted slivered almond aromas. Although a lean style, after all, you can taste the oak. Needs some time to integrate.

2011 Director’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($21)

A headless dancing man, with his head in his hands, is the visual treat on this bottle. Spicy, smokey, driftwood campfire and a hint of bergamot; grilled raspberry, strawberry-raspberry jam flavors. Nicely rounded, if a wee bit diluted, it’s a stylish package overall, great for events.

2011 Director’s Cut Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($27)

A darker Pinot, medium-bodied, with waxy, Christmas spice candle aromas, and cherry-cola in the background. Satisfactory firm, fine finish.

2011 Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Kylah’s Vineyard ($38)

The top of the line, full metal jacket — d’oh, wrong director. Smokey, vanilla, oaky incense, potpourri. Silkier on the palate, with well-knit fruit, dried black cherries, cranberries. Whereas the Director’s may have too much wood for the stuffing of the wine, this one has the right balance.

2009 Director’s Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep color, with animal cracker, grape, and blackberry jelly aromas. Warmish, inviting, with a hint of Swisher Sweet in the aroma. Soft, appealing, with serious drying tannins on the backend and, with some air, that graphite note that Bordeaux lovers are such fans of.

But there’s so much more. There’s an old-fashioned precedent for such variety — the Italian Swiss Colony just up the road, once a tourist destination second only to Disneyland, where visitors lined up for sherry, Pinot, port, and “champagne.” So take your pick of Director’s Chardonnay, Diamond Collection Malbec, Su Yuen Riesling, Sofia sparkling, Sauternes-style dessert wine, or Archimedes, the toothsome, top red blend. Dive in.


Francis’ Diamond Wine Snow-Ball Cocktail Recipes:

  • Chardonnay Pink Grapefruit
  • 2 ounces Gold Label Diamond Chardonnay
  • .5 ounce Skylite Pink Grapefruit Syrup
  • 8 ounces crushed ice
  • Merlot Raspberry Lime
  • 2 ounces Blue Label Diamond Merlot
  • .75 ounce Skylite Raspberry Lime
  • 8 ounces crushed ice
  • Pinot Grigio Meyer Lemon Shiso
  • 2 ounces Emerald Label Diamond Pinot Grigio
  • .5 ounce Skylite Meyer Lemon Shiso
  • 8 ounces crushed ice

Find more info about Wineries & Wine, Hotels & Lodging, Things to Do, and Restaurants in Sonoma County. More from wine blogger James Knight about Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

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