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.
After tasting Big Sur Vineyards flagship red blend, BSV Red Wine, it was clear to me that this little winery has a passion for big, bold flavors. So I will preface this post with a bit of a warning: when it comes to their Chardonnay, there’s no exception to that passion. Certainly, this is a white wine one must be in the mood for. For me, that mood came along on a crisp Fall evening when I wanted to warm myself from the inside out with a glass of wine — but was in the mood for a white wine. Enter a warm hug from Big Sur Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay. (more…)
What I love about Marsanne is it’s anti-white-wine attitude. Native to the Northern Rhône valley, it’s most commonly associated with its counterpart, Rousanne, creating the classically-styled white Rhône blend. Most often, the dominant varietal in the blend is, in fact, the Rousanne, which brings out a bit more fruit and floral flavors, along with a smooth, rounded texture. It’s Marsanne, however that highlights more of the “meatiness,” if you will — often with a bit of nuttiness, spices, and a textural mouthfeel. In other words, it gives the white blend its substance.
However, we don’t see a lot of Marsanne bottled on its own. Despite being a seemingly “strong” wine, the grape is a hard one to grow — one must not pick it too early, lest the grape is underdeveloped and lacking in flavor, nor can one pick it too late, lest it over-ripen, producing a funky-colored skin and a perceived sweetness with flavors like honey or even raisens. So how do you get this Goldilocks of a grape “just right” — with the proper ratio of flavor to texture — and produce a stand-alone, single-varietal wine? Let’s ask an expert, Larry Schaffer, of Tercero Wines who (spoiler alert to this review) definitely got it just right.
It’s Tuesday and you want a glass of wine. It’s Friday night and you’ve just ordered a pizza and — want a glass of wine. It’s Sunday and you’re having a few guests over for brunch who may just, well, want a glass of wine. Casual, everyday situations call for a glass of wine, but you don’t want to necessarily open something “special.” You want to open, what I call, a reliable “daily drinker.” And here is where Hahn excels: While they produce some magnificently refined single-vineyard expressions of their flagship varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they also dedicate their simply stated Hahn line of wines to the daily drinker.
“I want to make wines that everybody enjoys,” says Hahn winemaker Paul Clifton. And, indeed, he does. From the elegantly balanced Lone Oak Vineyard Chardonnay under the Lucienne label, to the exclusive “tasting-room-only” Smith and Hook Cabernet — and this, supermarket staple Hahn Monterey County Chardonnay.
The Santa Lucia Highlands can create some interesting wines — from almost meaty Pinot Noir, to downright angry Syrah. The Hahn SLH Chardonnay hails from higher elevation vineyards that reach, at top level, 1,200 feet and are planted atop sandy loam soils. Sitting neatly above the fog line and amongst the well-draining soil, the Chardonnay receives ample amount of sunlight and receive just enough water to force the vines to work. The result is good, fully ripened fruit bursting at the seams to become wine. But the expression in that wine, well, that depends on the winemaker…