Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2021

Medium gold color; pear, golden apple, baked peach, butterscotch, citrus-lemon, some minerality, toasty oak, vanilla on the nose and palate.

Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2021

Dry, approaching off-dry. Medium-plus body with smooth, creamy texture from sur lie aging. No tannins; good acidity that is muted by the creaminess, oak, and malolactic buttery notes. Very consistent, easy drinking palate pleaser. Ferrari-Carano’s entry-level chardonnay offering. 14.5% ABV

The 2020-2021 winter was especially dry in Sonoma. Winter and spring temperatures accelerated bud break. Summer was warm and included heat spikes, creating rich, ripe fruits. The result was one of the earliest harvests ever at Ferrari-Carano. Grapes from 60 different vineyard lots in Sonoma were destemmed, cold soaked in stainless steel, then moved to oak barrels, 25% new French oak, for fermentation. Wine underwent 95% malolactic fermentation, then rested sur lie with stirring every two weeks until final blending of the 60 lots in May and bottling in June.

Ferrari-Carano winery

Don and Rhonda Carano were second-generation Italian-Americans and natives of Reno, Nevada, where Don practiced law after serving in the U.S. Army. The Caranos founded Ferrari-Carano in 1981. The fell in love with northern Sonoma County in 1979 while searching for wines to add to the wine list at the Eldorado, the Carano’s hotel-casino in Reno. They first purchased 60 acres in the Alexander Valley, then began acquiring additional acreage, finally totaling 24 sustainably-farmed estate ranches comprising more than 1,900 vineyard acres. They broke ground for the Ferrari-Carano Winery in Dry Creek Valley in 1985. Their first wines under their label—a fumé blanc and an Alexander Valley chardonnay, were released in 1987.

Ferrari-Carano grounds and vineyard

Don Carano passed in 2017. Since 2019, the winery has been owned by Bill and Carol Foley, owners of Foley Family Wines. Foley Food and Wines is major producer, marketer, and distributor of quality wines. Every brand in the company’s portfolio is distinct and autonomous with its own identity, style, techniques, and personnel. Labels include Banshee, Chalk Hill, Chalone Vineyard, Chateau St. Jean, Firestone, Silverado Vineyards, Sebastiani, Foley Estates, and Ferrari-Carano.

Bill Foley

Today, Ferrari-Carano still produces fumé blanc and Alexander Valley chardonnay, as well as 20 other white and red wines. Their 21 vineyards earned certification from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. The wines are consistent and consistently excellent, a hallmark of Foley Family Wines in general.

Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay, Sonoma County 2021 is rich, round, smooth-creamy, buttery, built to please from initial attack through medium-length finish. Dollop of citrus-lemon to keep things interesting after the tree fruit beginning. Lots of ripeness and congenial elements in this entry-level pour in the Ferrari-Carano chardonnay lineup. Pair with seafood and fish—meaty fish (cod, halibut); shellfish (shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab legs; clam chowder); chicken dishes, including fried chicken; pork tenderloin (not barbecued pork); white meats in general, especially with cream sauces; corn on the cob; movie theatre popcorn; vegetarian fare. Cheese—big flavors, not too salty; sheep’s milk cheeses; sharp cheddar, gruyere, washed-rind, parmesan, brie, ricotta. $16-20

Ferrari-Carano website