Cheers to a Good Bottle, A Good Book & A Good Friend

May 22, 2016

“Great is the fortune of those who possesses a good bottle, a good book, and a good friend.”~Moliere.



I was delighted to be invited to do an online tasting with Ferrari-Carno after I connected  with their PR team during the Chicago leg of the Tre Bicchieri® World Tour, dedicated to presenting the best Italian wines.


Chicago is known for their food and Italian community; I’m always up for intriguing pairings, and I love a good backstory: Don and Rhonda Carano. the owners of Ferrari-Carano, are second generation Italian Americans who had came from the world of fine dining, great wine lists and impeccable service. As they were first experimenting and expanding, they purchased a 60-acre parcel of land in the Alexander Valley in Northern Sonoma County. They made wine in their barn! The team bottled it under the label Carano Cellars, and gave it to friends and family. Carano Cellars appeared on wine lists and the Caranos saw the potential this area held, the Caranos began to acquire additional vineyard land and in 1981, founded Ferrari-Carano.


Their said their vineyard practices are “customized to match the particular characteristics of each vineyard, to help the vines produce the best fruit possible, and in turn, the best wine possible.

The fact that the winery’s name incorporates the word 'Vineyards' is a deliberate way to emphasize that grape source and terroir play important roles in the final product.”


I had just finished a meeting for America’s Cup fresh water debut (June 10-12), so I had my favorite Italian restaurant cater the tasting with some seasonal pairings. (The Wicker Park restaurant only carries Italian wine and is not BYOB, so I conducted the tasting in the neighborhood.) We chilled each wine to the preferred temperature and opened them to let them breathe for 20 minutes. It was a fresh late spring evening so I did a patio tasting with the team online.



Enter Ferrari-Carano’s 2014 Fumé Blanc: a tasty wine with aroma and tastes

of yellow peach, pear, quince, Meyer lemon, mango and fruit cocktail.

This wine has bright acidity and crisp freshness from the cool, stainless

steel tank fermentation, so the subtle oak character from barrel aging

adds body, complexity and depth.


My guest I paired this with “Perla di Arragosta”, a light crab, lobster and calamari salad that brought out the peach and pear influences the most.  Suave. Delicious. Smoky without being oak-y.

We also learned that quick-turn wines under screw cap are better for the consumer choice.


This wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from various appellations in

Sonoma County — Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys.



Their Fumé Blanc pairs well with simple seafood and poultry dishes, and also

holds up nicely with white meats such as veal and pork. This wine has lively

flavors that go well with spicy and ethnic cuisines such as Japanese,

Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Mexican and Southwestern dishes.



I was fascinated by the mélange of the smooth, balanced and medium-bodied merlot. We paired this with “Sciatielli al ragout di maialino”, fresh -handcrafted pasta served with young milk-fed pig ragout. An OOLALA moment in any language.


We learned that the Merlot vines are farmed on diverse, low-vigor vineyard sites ranging

from valley floor sandy loam and gravel to steep, sloped, volcanic rock

hillsides. The 2013 season’s favorable conditions resulted in wines with good

color and tannin structure along with concentrated flavors.


This middle selection was a velvety wine with a complex nose of plum, blueberry pie, cedar and cocoa. We couldn’t miss the flavorful notes of black cherry, caramel,

espresso and toasty vanilla.



The fruit forward, easy drinking qualities of their Merlot make it the perfect

wine to pair with any red meat course or Italian dish.




We could hear oohs and ahhs as the 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon reached our mouths.

The 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a cinematic story on their Lookout Mountain

ranch in Alexander Valley. Fog drifts over the tops of the coastal mountains

and burns off quickly in the morning sunshine, resulting in a warm climate

with almost full sun throughout the day – ideal conditions for their Cabernet

Sauvignon grapes. This is a delicious wine with aromas and flavors of cinnamon,

sage, mocha, tobacco, plum, wild berry, dried currants, mint and

toasty nutmeg spice. With a viscous and full-bodied mid-palate, and structured,

firm, gripping tannins, this wine has excellent depth and a finish that

lingers with layers of fruit, spice and earthy elements.


We learned that 2012 was a good year with consistently

warm temperatures during the summer months without any heat

spikes or major rain events; in classic Cali fashion this allowed for longer “hang time” leading to fully

ripe flavors.




Their Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with roasted, broiled or barbecued heavy

game and red meats such as lamb, beef, pork and veal. Medium and strong-flavored

cheeses also bring out the best. Read on for other recipes, recos and intriguing pairings.


We’ve talked about doing some more exciting wines like these for the soft launch of “Secrets to Shine through the Noise” end of June or for the full launch mid-August.


Here’s to a good bottle, good book and good friend!

Thank you again for the invitation, Ferrari-Carano! 


Next week I'm off to celebrate my friends' win as the #Top100 in the US as well as a benefit concert for Teen Cancer America with some of our favorite musicians.



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