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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wine Reviews: Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fumé Blanc 2014, Sonomy County Merlot 2013, Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fumé Blanc 2014, Sonomy County Merlot 2013, Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Hello from the distant past, friends of the future! The current date that I'm writing this is May 19th, 2016. It may seem surreal to you, reading a blog post that was written an entire two months before it was released. Many things have changed, I'm sure. Man has probably walked on Mars and maybe we've completely eliminated erectile dysfunction. The thought of the advancements that you've seen since my time ignites my imagination with wonder.

You see, I've had many promised and scheduled reviews for all of May, June, July and even August. And today, May 19th, I have a live online tasting with other wine bloggers, writers and people in the industry. So I've found this spot, July 21st, on my schedule to have a little post about.

I received an invitation in the spring from Ferrari-Carano to try their wines made from Bordeaux grape varieties online with their associate winemaker, Rebecka Deike, and I jumped on the chance. Ferrari-Carano is one of my favorite wineries out of Cali... and dat Fumé tho... mmm-mmmm.

The hashtag used on Twitter was #FCxBordeaux and the official roster was myself (@TheWineStalker), Bill Eyer (@cuvee_corner), Mark Fusco (@1337Wine), Ilona Thompson (@PalateXposure), Megan Kenney (@Sonadora), Marot Savell (@writeforwine), Akasha Garnier (@AkashaGarnier), Kathy Sullivan (@wineabout), Naushad Huda (@ilikethisgrape), Jolene Patterson (@jolenespatter), Lacey Fach (@LacePerspective), Amy Lieberfarb (@amylieberfarb), and Sherri Housman (@SLHousman). You should really go and follow those guys if you don't already. There were more there that had heard about this chat and went out and got the bottles themselves because they're dedicated as fuck.

So it was a live UStream video, and you could connect your comments to Twitter. Rebecka was awesome. The host, Chelsea Rose Kurnick, did an outstanding job. Everybody involved was interesting and professional. Well... I was not. But hey, that's what you get when you bring in TheWineStalker. You get me complaining about how I wish I didn't eat all my cheese last night. And pictures of me dangling the three bottles and a glass with the caption of "WAAAARRRIOOORS! COME OUT TO PLAY-YAY! *clank*clank*"

Apparently that 80's movie reference isn't as recognized as I thought it would be. I had somebody respond on Instagram to that picture with "Steph Curry is a machine @thewinestalker best 3 point shooter!" After Googling who the hell this Steph Curry was and seeing he's a basketball player on a team called the Warriors, I realized that I am now old and nostalgic for the corny, terrible movies and music of my childhood... which was forever ago.

Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fumé Blanc 2014

This Fumé Blanc is one of those wines that flies right out the door like people need it to survive, but it's not one that makes you gag when people buy it. I ain't sugar-coating shit here: this Fumé is one of the top deals you're ever going to find in Sauvignon Blanc. For $14 it's simply hard to beat.

I've been drinking this baby for years. One thing that I felt was different about the 2014 right off the bat is that there's quit a bit of lychee nut, something I don't recall being a characteristic before. After awhile I think it's just because it has a bit more body, a bit more tropical fruit, and a bit less minerality than previous vintages. Don't get me wrong; that's not a bad thing at all. This vintage is still killer and probably even better.

The nose has freshly cut, crisp bell pepper, pear juice, lychee nut and a cup of fruit cocktail. The palate is zippy and high in acidity but there's a full, creamy body that evens everything out. There's flavors of apple, lychee nut, pear juice, and nectarine. It finishes with pear juice and nectarine.

Because it's got such great balance, this Fumé is incredibly versatile. In my experience you've got the Sauvignon Blanc's that you need to eat with because they're so impactful and so acidic or so minerally, or the Sauvignon Blanc's that you need to drink by itself because it's just unpairable. But this lovely lady will go with a wide range of foods and all by itself.

For the money, there's no wonder why it's so goddamn popular with average consumers and so respected within the wine industry.

Ferrari-Carano Sonomy County Merlot 2013

I'm just a complete sucker for "the little black bird" so it was already a given that I was going to like this as long as it was varietally correct. There's nothing worse than buying a Merlot and finding that they're trying to make a Cabernet wannabe or a Zinfandel wannabe. Stay true to Merlot's spirit and it will stay true to you.

Like anything else, there's different styles of Merlot. Old World can be earthy and spicy, while New World can more about fresh dark fruit. This one is definitely Old World Bordeaux inspired with New World California pride.

On the nose and the palate, vanilla and shaded dirt were the characteristics that popped out at me first to see where this Merlot was going. And there's also cocoa just all over the place. Definitely Bordeaux inspired. This guy has a 14.5% alcohol, you can smell it, and I'm not gonna lie... ETHANOL BURN IS MY FAVORITE AROMA. And then, as Rebecka said, it has that dark fruit pie going on. Blueberry pie. Blackberry pie. Dark fruit swimming in its own sauce, surrounded with baked crust. Bordeaux inspired, California pride.

This is Merlot. And if you're one of those people that still refuses to embrace Merlot for some stupid fucking reason and can't even admit that they like this one... we can't be friends. Bye, Felicia!

Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Alexander Valley has got to be one of the best, if not the best, regions in the world for Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't accept arguments on this one. It's just the truth.

Alexander Valley is in Sonoma, right on the border of Napa. It's the hottest area of Sonoma but cooler than Napa. So when you make Cabernet there you get the same flavor characteristics that make Napa Cab internationally famous, but other factors aren't as embracing. Tannin wants to smoke a bowl with you instead of demonize a soul with you. It's the mellow alternative and it's superior in enjoyment. Ssshhh... you know I'm right.

As you know, I take pricing pretty seriously. I'm not rating these particular bottles but my normal rating system is based on the price of the wine vs its quality. This wine will cost you $65 and, boy oh boy, does it deliver at that price.

The color is almost black with violet highlights. The nose is extremely complex with aromas of mint, black cherries, plums, black olive, mocha and cigar box. There's a lot going on here that will evolve into more complexities when decanted or replugged for the following day. On the palate it showcases a medium to full body and a soft mouthfeel with big, concentrated fruits. It's those black cherries and plums again, along with blackberry. There's also pencil shavings and vanilla. It finishes with black cherries, pencil shavings, mint, and tannin.

It's spectacular and everybody agreed it was the star of the evening. Even though that Fumé is still running through my mind...
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  1. Yeah! Ferrari Carano! Lucky you to participate!!!!

  2. Love this winery ! Chardonnay is pretty good too ! Hello from Vancouver ! Fellow blogger !

  3. The Fume 2016 is far different than the last vintages I drank 2013- 2014 and not in goid way. Harsh and forceful on the palette and in the glass. Smells of something not familiar to me in a glass of sav.blanc



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