Was I late to the Ferrari-Carano game? Maybe. I believe I’d had their Fume Blanc sometime in the past, but don’t feel like I truly became a part of the FC club until I tried their UNA GSM Red Blend. While that one seems to be a bit of an anomaly amongst their portfolio, it certainly hooked me and made me understand why this iconic vineyard is, well, iconic, and has such a heavy cult following. Today, I continue my exploration of Ferrari-Carano with one of their classics — their Sonoma County Chardonnay.

About the Wine: The Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay is made of 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from 60 individual estate Chardonnay lots from the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros regions of Sonoma County. The grapes were destemmed, pressed, then cold soaked in stainless steel tanks prior to moving to French oak barrels (23% new, 77% seasoned) for primary fermentation, completing 89% percent malolactic fermentation. The wine then aged, sur lie with battonage occurring every two weeks until the final blend was created.

14.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: Straight out of the bottle of the Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay you can smell the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread. A secondary whiff just above the bottleneck will showcase a hint of baked apples, complete with baking spices. The Chardonnay is Champagne-gold on the pour, settling into the glass with a more rich, brick-gold shade of yellow. Initial aromas are of cream, milk and honey, fresh cut lumber wood, with a very mellow level of acidity streaming throughout. Swirl, and the wine reveals stone fruits like softened and warmed apricot, mango, and a background of damp, dewy grass warmed by the rising sun in a humid savannah plain.

Go in for the first sip, and that first inhale as you take in the liquid is like a breath of fresh lake-bearing country air. The palate of Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay is soft, smooth, round, with a solid level acidity that rides right through the center of all flavors, making a splash at the very end. Initial dominant flavors are of honey, nut butter (like almond or cashew), pomme fruits (apples, pears). But then the wine takes a turn, exuding flavors of mango, lime leaf, with a finish — from that acid — that reveals the savory spice of ginger root. Indeed, a sip of this Chardonnay is like a journey — starting from the comfort of the country cottage and moving toward the exotic islands of Asia.

Food Pairing: I paired the Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay with a spinach and mushroom pizza topped with truffled parmesan cheese. Total comfort food to go along this ML, sur lie, oak-aged Chard. I was expecting a bit of a butter-bomb, but Ferrari-Carano surprised me with the journey that the flavors took me. And, so, this pairing actually worked out better than I expected. Of course the “creamier” elements of the wine completely complimented the gooey cheese and doughy bread. But the truffle, the mushroom, even the spinach, highlighted those fun savory notes, those Asian-esque flavors in the wine, while the acid — stronger than initially suspected — cut through the fats and gluten perfectly.

Perfect pairing? Yes. If not eating a pizza or looking for something with a bit more “fancy” — I’d highly recommend sticking with a cheese-based dish: I’m thinking mushroom risotto. (I’m telling you those earthy, funky flavors are totally fun with this wine.)

More Info: I received the Ferrari-Carano 2015 Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Chelsea!) Retail: $23. For more information about Ferrari-Carano, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Ferrari-Carano website.

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