Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc 2006
Don and Rhonda Carano are a couple dedicated to both the good life and the production of
good wine to fuel that life; we fellow good life people benefit. Their Fumé Blanc, 100%
Sauvignon Blanc, is sourced from a number of their own vineyards in Sonoma County (in
Dry Creek Valley, the Alexander Valley, and the Russian River Valley) and is aged in a
combination of stainless steel and older French oak (the oak barrel aged component remaining
on its lees for the four month aging process). The Caranos, though not generally oak
enthusiasts, believe in combining a reasoned presence of oak with their Fumé Blanc. If you
are used to over-oaked California whites, you won't taste this oak, though you might feel the
wood in the wine's excellent body. The $15 wine has a fine balance and a real European
elegance about it.
The nose when I tried the wine was a little tight, but patience brought me peach, rose, mandarin orange and honey, a fragrant combination indeed. It was on the palate that the wine revealed its true Sauvignon Blanc wealth. The wine is dry, with a mid-level of acidity. The primary flavor notes were mandarin orange, lime, a little flint, tangerine, and a deep aura of rose. A number of tropical fruit flavor notes poke out from beneath these primary flavors: melon, pineapple and even a touch of banana. All the notes are ripe and warm.
The Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc really shines, however, when it comes to the wine's good
round mouth-feel. You absolutely have the notion that you are drinking a wine (so many
California Sauvignon Blancs lead you to think they are fortified Vitamin-C sports drinks). The
finish is long, with the wine's acidity nicely tamed; the rose and tangerine form the final
notes. I was presented with this wine initially at refrigerator temperature, but enjoyed it even
more once it tempered a bit. Too cold and you lose the flowers.
I keep looking for over-achieving California wines; occasionally I find one. Plain patriotism spurs me in the search.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman