Review: Wines of Francis Ford Coppola, 2017 Releases

I never get too excited when the massive box of Coppola wines show up, as quality tends to be all over the map. Well, with the 2017 releases (all from the 2015 vintage), that’s changed. Someone is clearly paying attention to quality at Coppola, and things have improved across the board, sometimes dramatically.

Let’s look at the latest wines from FFC: 3 reds, 3 whites.

2015 Virginia Dare Chardonnay Russian River Valley – A brisk and minimally oaked chardonnay, this lemon-scented wine offers a touch of marshmallow character and some butterscotch to sweeten up the proceedings — but ample acidity on the back end tempers the wine and gives it some length. B+ / $20

2015 Francis Ford Coppola Reserve Chardonnay Dutton Ranch-Jewell Vineyard – This is a bold and buttery chardonnay, but it finds balance in notes of pear and cinnamon-dusted apple, and crisp minerality that gives it a more acidic edge than expected. A squeeze of lemon lifts up the finish. A- / $38

2015 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay Director’s Cut Russian River Valley – A super-buttery and woody expression of chardonnay, though notes of grapefruit and allspice lift it out of that overly obvious experience and give it some acidity to grab onto. B+ / $17

2015 Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir Director’s Cut Russian River Valley – A moderate to dense pinot noir, this wine features a spicy nose that gives way to a considerably fruit-forward core, featuring brambly blackberry, cherry, and more baking spice layered into it. Slightly on the sweeter side of the aisle, it’s nonetheless a crowd-pleaser (despite the unorthodox bottle choice). B+ / $20

2015 Virginia Dare Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – As with the 2014 release, this is a perfectly pleasant pinot that would fit in perfectly well on any table. Ample notes of cherry, cola, and tea leaf give the wine plenty of depth, all atop a body of ample density and power. The finish is lightly spicy and only a touch on the sweet side. All told, this wine deserves a better label than it was given. B+ / $23

2015 Votre Sante Pinot Noir Anderson Valley – Don’t look now but Votre Sante now has an Anderson Valley designation instead of a rotgut California one. It’s a far better wine than before, too, leading with herbs and spice and venturing from there into notes of dried fruits and gentle tannin. A restrained wine, but it’s really quite compelling. A- / $35

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