The past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to participate in two virtual tastings, one with Ferrari-Carano on November 12 and one with Old York Cellars on November 19. I always enjoy these tastings because the participants interact with winemakers, ask questions, taste the wines, share opinions about the wines, and suggest food pairings. Below are my thoughts. All were provided to me as samples. For the Ferrari-Carano tasting, two of my work colleagues, Bradley and Cole, joined me, so these notes reflect our collective perspectives. I also re-tasted the Ferrari-Carano wines alone at home after being opened a couple of hours.
2012 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley Carneros, SRP $38
We are not ABC (all but chardonnay) tasters, but all three of us were a little wary of this wine initially because we were afraid of the production style. However, I am happy to report that we found this chardonnay to be well made. It is definitely a California-style chardonnay which sees 100% malolactic fermentation and sur lie aging in French oak, then an additional five months in neutral oak. However, this robust chardonnay exhibits fruit flavors such as green apple, stone fruits, and sweet citrus, accompanied by oak-influenced flavors like caramel and nut, and a creamy, rich mouthfeel.
2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley (Mendocino County), SRP $36
The three of us chose this wine as our favorite of the tasting, as well as the most indicative of its growing region, Anderson Valley. The grapes for this wine come from three ranch vineyards in Alexander Valley and are hand harvested and sorted. The production includes cold soaking, fermentation in open-top fermenters, and 10 months of aging in a combination of new and neutral French oak. This wine has all of the characteristics of a cool-climate pinot noir: earthiness, spiciness, a firm backbone of acidity, and fruit flavors such as cherry, currant, and plum.
2012 Ferrari-Carano Trésor, Sonoma County, SRP $52
The grapes for this blend of 71% cabernet sauvignon, 9% petit verdot, 7% malbec, 7% merlot, and 6% cabernet franc , are hand sorted, fermented in stainless and oak, then aged in new and older French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels. The resulting wine is quite balanced, with a silky mouthfeel and soft tannins. Aromas and flavors of baked blackberry and blueberry dominate, supported by oak-imparted flavors such as caramel and spice. My cohorts and I thought this wine was palate friendly enough to be enjoyed by drinkers who might typically be afraid of red wine because the tannins are well integrated.
NV Old York Cellars Merlot
(only available pre-release as part of a two-pack with the sweet riesling, price of $28 for both bottles)
In this offering, Scott Gares, the winemaker at Old York Cellars, decided to create a blend of two vintages, 2013 and 2014, to achieve the tannin structure and body of the 2013 and the bright fruit characteristics of the 2014. The resulting wine is one that is easy on the palate and the wallet. This merlot shows mostly sweet fruit flavors such as black cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate. Virtual tasters paired this wine with cheeses, Cabot White Oak Cheddar (aged cheddar), Thanksgiving-inspired recipes, and even chocolate.
2013 Old York Cellars Sweet Riesling, SRP $17
(part of a two-pack with the merlot, price of $28 for both bottles)
I usually do not gravitate towards the sweeter side of riesling, unless it is German. However, in this case, the wine is really not that sweet, more of a medium sweet, and that sweetness co-exists with good acidity. Aromas and flavors of crisp, ripe apples come together with citrus to create a juicy, mouthwatering, food-friendly wine that will liven up rich, holiday meals, as well as pair with soft cheeses, Cabot Monterey Jack cheese, and even cheesecake (as suggests the bottle’s back label). Just say cheese.
I am happy to announce that I will be participating in two more virtual tastings this year, a tasting of the current release of Hope Family Wines Troublemaker 9, a wine (Troublemaker 8) I have reviewed previously, on December 9, as well as a tasting of Trump Winery sparkling wines as a participant in #vawinechat on December 10. I hope that you will join me!