California Producers: Sterling Vintners, Ferrari Carano, & Rosenblum Cellars

This week we will sample a variety of wines from three well-known California vintners, two from each and a total of two whites and four reds. Sterling Vintners, Ferrari Carano and Rosenblum Cellars are all distinct producers, known for wines of value and quality, that well represent their “New World” origins. Although these are not small producers, they are all established ones; the youngest is 27 years-old and the oldest is 43. These wineries have helped to pave the way for the California wine industry as well as the grape varieties that the region is best-known for, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel (among others).

Sterling Vintners produced its first vintage in 1969, starting with Merlot. Since then, they have been committed to crafting wines that express their vineyards and varietal character. Sterling Vintners sources quality grapes from the sloped Diamond Mountain Ranch, the flat valley floor of Three Palms Vineyard, and many other diverse terroirs throughout Napa Valley and other select California regions. For the tasting we will sample two wines from their Napa Valley series, the 2010 Chardonnay and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ferrari Carano Vineyards and Winery, since 1985, has been a leading producer in California. Owned by Don and Rhonda Carano, they are committed to making wines that are elegant, consistent from vintage to vintage, and from sustainably farmed vineyards. Their vineyard practices are customized to match the particular characteristics of each plot of land to help produce the best fruit possible, in order to achieve the best wine possible. We will taste the 2011 Fume Blanc (a.k.a. Sauvignon Blanc) and 2009 Merlot.

Rosenblum Cellars, founded in 1978, specializes in “Zin, Zin, and more Zin” (they make more than 20 types!) and Rhone-style reds such as Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Grenache. Their winery is located in Alameda, California, a place known more for its docks and shipyards than winemaking, where founder Ken Rosenblum started making wine over three decades ago. They source fruit from more than 50 vineyard sites, mostly located in Sonoma County, Contra Costa County, and Paso Robles. We will try the 2008 Paso Robles Zinfandel and 2007 Heritage Clones Petite Sirah (both are the current vintages).

The wines range in price from $16.99-$25.99 for the tasting. We hope you will join us this Thursday!


The specific wines for the tasting are:

Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2011– Sonoma County. 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 65% aged in stainless steel, 35% aged in neutral French oak barrels. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are sourced from various appellations in Sonoma County including Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. Aromas of lime, kiwi, citrus, melon and a touch of grass are complemented by flavors of grapefruit, lemon and lime followed by tropical flavors on the finish. Partial stainless steel fermentation gives the wine a crisp acidity and fresh fruit characters, while partial neutral oak aging adds complexity and depth. Tasting $16.99

Sterling Vintners Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010– Napa Valley. 99.3% Chardonnay, .7% Roussanne, that aged in barrel for 8 months in a combination of 70% French oak, 15% American oak, and 15% European oak, 20% of which is new. Small-lot barrel fermentation and frequent stirring of the lees during aging provides balance and texture. The fragrant nose of sweet oak, spice, vanilla, caramel, and tropical fruits, is followed by layered flavors suggesting golden apple, peach, and citrus fruits, that carry into the long and crisp finish. Tasting $19.99

Ferrari Carano Merlot 2009– Sonoma County. A blend of 93% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Petit Sirah that aged for 16 months in a combination of 27% new French oak and 73% neutral French oak barrels. A portion of the fruit is grown in cool-climate, valley-floor vineyards producing supple, forward-fruit, while the fruit grown in mountain-top, volcanic rock hillsides tends to add intensity and structure. It’s a velvety, full-bodied wine with a complex nose of cinnamon, cherry cola, blackberry fruit, and exotic spices. A juicy, slightly viscous and rich mouthfeel is followed by notes of bittersweet chocolate, mocha and tobacco. This wine has full, generous, mouthcoating tannins, impressive length and acidity. Tasting $25.99

Sterling Vintners Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– Napa Valley. A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot, 3% Petite Sirah, 2% Malbec, and 1% Syrah that aged in a combination of American, French, and European oak for 15 months. Dark, deep aromas of black plums, cherry, spice, caramel and vanilla fill the glass. On the palate, big, rich flavors of briary berry fruits, cocoa and spice meet mouthcoating tannins and are followed by a long, velvety finish. Tasting $24.99

Rosenblum Cellars Paso Robles Zinfandel 2008– Paso Robles. A blend of 78% Zinfandel and 22% Petite Sirah that aged for 14 months in a combination of 90% American and 10% French oak, 10% of which was new. Paso Robles has an ideal climate for growing Zinfandel; situated in the Central Coast, this large, diverse appellation has warm, arid days, and cool night-time breezes from the nearby Pacific ocean. Aromas of bright cherry, sweet plum, and pepper/spice are followed by a fresh and vibrant palate filled with dark fruit flavors. A medium-bodied offering with a long, generous finish. Tasting $16.99

Rosenblum Cellars Heritage Clones Petite Sirah 2007– Contra Costa County. A blend of 98% Petite Sirah and 2% Zinfandel that aged for 14 months in 60% American and 40% French oak barrels. Produced from vineyards located on the foot of Mt. Diablo at the edge of the San Fransisco Bay from vines from 80-100 years old. Dark, opaque purple/black in color with rich, spicy aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, plums, chocolate, black pepper, violets and kitchen spice. An integrated, full-bodied, and dry Petite Sirah. Tasting $17.99

Rosenblum Petite Sirah sterling cab merlot2009

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