Ferrari Carano Chardonnay, 2018; Ferrari Carano Winery; Healdsburg, CA; $30/btl
It seems like a million years ago, but I used to dabble in the restaurant business. In fact, it was a long time ago. For 15 years I waited tables, bussed tables, cooked, and managed. Mostly in fine dining, and most of that in private clubs. The Arid Club, Crane Creek Country Club, Spurwing Country Club.
The highlight of those three places was The Arid Club, where I managed the wine program for four years. Prior to that, I wrote the wine list for Crane Creek Country Club with the guidance of our Clubhouse Manager. Between those two places, I probably opened a thousand bottles of wine, and I got very good at it. The technique I learned to de-cork a bottle was one of presentation and efficiency, and I’m proud to say that, 17 years later, I’ve not lost my touch.
There was a day, though, when King Estates released a Pinot Noir with — *gasp* — a screw-top. And it was a very nice wine! So nice that I roamed the dining room of the Arid Club pouring samples for our members and their guests, and I literally sold cases of the stuff that night. But, there was one member who flat out threatened my job if I even dared to bring him a sample. Seriously, he told me that if I put a free sample on his table that he would demand I be fired.
In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to begin writing about adult beverages was because of that encounter. I remember thinking, “What a complete snob!” I mean, I would just never behave like that. At least, I hope I wouldn’t. You see, I loved what I was doing. I was in love with wine, with selling wine, with collecting wine. Everything about it mesmerized me. I loved it! And I wanted to tell people about it.
And I also became acutely aware that screw-tops were going to be making a profound entry into the world of premium wines. No longer would screw-tops live only at the head of names like Ernest and Julio Gallo and other bottom dwellers. No, many of the industry's big names were beginning to read the writing on the wall, and they were curious, if not outright experimenting behind closed doors.
With so much of the industry wrapped up in tradition, though, the idea of screwing the top off of a $30 bottle of wine rather than plucking out a cork was a bit hard to, umm, swallow. It would be especially difficult for traditionalists who would rather their expensive wines go to waste in a million-dollar, bragging-rights cellar than have it last for many years simply sitting on a shelf.
So be it.
That said, If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I’ve been touching on the Feast of Tabernacles. This year, I was supposed to attend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but was unable since COVID got my wife all sick and stuff. Fortunately, we were able to send my daughter to a location a bit closer to home — Bend, Oregon — and with her I sent some wine. I was training her to taste and open and such, and we had a little event planned. Not being Able to do it with her, I thought she might enjoy having it there to try by herself. Fortunately for me, she’s not much of a solo drinker and brought all three bottles home.
The three were King Estates Pinot Noir, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, and Ferrari Carano Chardonnay. This past weekend we opened the Ferrari Carano, and I was shocked — shocked, I say — to find a screw top! I mean, I’ve opened at least a hundred bottles of Ferrari Carano wines, and they always had screw tops. But, I haven’t opened a bottle of it in 17 years. So, seeing that screw top caught me by surprise — pleasant surprise, mind you. Here I was going to show my daughter my patented technique, and all I got to show her was how to do the twist. It was actually funny, but you had to be there.
Anyway, the bottle is open and so I’m scribbling digitally about it. Ferrari Carano Chardonnay is a stalwart in the wine industry. Consistent, loaded with buttery oak, grapefruit, medium-bodied and dry, but absolutely stuffed with fruity character. At $30 per bottle it’s pricey, but worth every drop. Chardonnay is actually kind of difficult to nail. Too much sugar and it falls apart. Too dry and it sucks the life out of you. This stuff nails that balance, and always has.
The moral of this story is that screw-tops are the future, and Ferrari Carano is embracing that future. Fortunately, their wine is as consistently good as my past remembers. They’ve demonstrated definitively — just as King Estates did all those years ago — that screw-tops do not ruin the wine. Just the snobs! And if Mr. Carano can do the twist, anyone can.
Ferrari Carano Chardonnay, 2018
Who is this guy?
I'm just an average, ordinary, everyday Ken, and nothing more. I like wine, whiskey, and beer. I write when I'm bored (and to prove it I've published three books). I like to garden, work with wood, and laugh with family and friends. Ken's Bar is an expression of my enjoyment of adult beverages of all shapes and sizes, but especially whiskey. My tasting notes are as much about stories and connections with people as they are about fluffy, snobbish adjectives. I've tasted a lot of whiskey (including the costs-way-too-much Rip Van Winkle stuff) and decided to start writing about it. Or something. So, sit back and read. If you can.
How do I rank?
Cost per Bottle:
$ - $0-$25
$$ - $26-$50
$$$ - $51-$75
$$$$ - $76-$100
$$$$$ - Over $100
* - Swill. Dump it out.
** - Mix it with coke
*** - A good sipper
**** - Straight from Heaven.
***** - Heaven called and wants its whiskey back!
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