Back to Carneros! We actually arrived at the perfect time for viewers of this blog to see exactly why Carneros is just right for Pinot and Chard. Enter #KarltheFog. Being a San Franciscan we all know Karl, but wino’s forget that he is what makes these grapes maintain their acidity throughout the growing season. Exactly what you need in the production of bubbles.
Gloria Ferrer was the first to make méthode champenoise wines in the Carneros AVA back in the 80’s. With the Ferrer’s Spanish, or old world, background, they knew exactly what it would take to make world class sparkling from California, more specifically Carneros. They brought clippings straight from Champagne and today work with 60 different clones (out of 300 currently available for US producers) to give them blending power that creates a cuvee that’s not only toasty and luscious, but truly enhanced by the art form that’s expressed in the blending. It also pays that many of their vineyard management team has been intact for decades, only to increase their knowledge and relationship to the vines.
The estate is gorgeous and extremely easy to get to. Headed to Sonoma northbound it’s one of the first wineries to stop at, so ties in nicely to a lot of the others I’ve written about. The driveway is loooong and a wee bit windy through their vineyards as you come up a rolling hill to the entrance (we insta-storied the whole thing, check it out @lipstickonmyglass). Perfect for a small or large group, they have everything. If you’re interested in more of an educational tasting the tour is a must, and be sure to finish with a glass of your favorite and find a seat outside to take in the setting. Some wineries that do do sparkling don’t always produce all the styles but you can find an array here, from light and crisp to aged with more body and texture. They’re nationally distributed so some of these you can find in most markets. And of course, there are the few that you can only get directly from the winery. See my notes below…
- Royal Cuvee: Always aged for at least 8 years and coming from the first (best) pressing I got a lot of body out of this wine and the age makes it more balanced and refined. My personal style is body and balance so was right up my alley. But again, personal preference 🙂 *Only sold at winery
- The Blanc de Noir and Brut Rose are nice, very traditional. They’re easier to find for purchase since they make more of these wines. Good for those who like acidity and brightness. Bubble are just right.
- If you’re up to spend an extra few dollars…. I’d suggest investing in the Reserve series, something that has a vintage on the label (aka a year). These wines just offer more complexity and are better suited for aging and special occasions, or just your wine snob friends. The Royal is in this category ^
They also make still wines of Chard and Pinot but didn’t get a chance to taste through all of them. My recommendation is a sparkling flight since that’s their signature and personally what I think they do best! Also pairs perfectly with their offerings of cheese and meats.
More of my own notes on the lesson of sparkling here.
*Open to the public; Appointment and tour suggested; $$-$$$
BIG thanks to Cecilia for being our gracious host!