So we find ourselves on the Vista Terrace at the beautiful Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. It’s a comfortable morning where the clouds have not yet burned off, so the view is soft and the vines look happy. And it’s time to get down to some tasting. 5 flights were available on the list including the Winery Exclusive Flight which included 3 sparkling wines that were exclusive to the winery (you can’t purchase them anywhere else), a 90 Point flight of their sparkling wines that have been rated at 90 points or about, the Glorious Flight which comes with a chocolate pairing, a Pinot Flight and a Ferrer Family Passport which includes 3 still red wines. There are other wines available by the glass.
We chose the Winery Exclusive Flight. I mean why wouldn’t you? If we can taste the other wines elsewhere, this was the flight to go with. This flight included the 2009 Extra Brut, the 2013 Brut Rosé and the 2005 Carneros Cuvée.
2009 Extra Brut
This is a blend that is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. This is a “late disgorged” wine. This wine cellar aged for 7 years. The “late disgorging” enhances the bubbles. This vintage, 2009 started mild, with ideal summer temperatures so the fruit was able to ripen and develop deep flavors.
With Green apple and brioche for your nose and then, citrus, honey and black cherry for your taste buds.
2013 Brut Rosé
92% Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay. This wine has strawberry and brioche on the nose, Watermelon and peach on the palate with some ginger notes at the end. This is a festive wine that is a real crowd pleaser.
2005 Carneros Cuvée
53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay. This is their flagship sparkling wine. The 2005 vintage started out cool and wet with a late bud break. The summer was sunny and dry and the temperature were mild going into harvest which meant more hang time between veraison and harvest.
This is made from the premium estate fruit. It has 9 years en tirage, and 6 months on the cork. It was indeed our favorite wine of the tasting. What is en tirage you ask? this is the French term for how long the wine rests in the bottle on the lees (the dead yeast sediment) from the secondary fermentation. This allows the flavor of the autolyzed yeast to develop in the wine.
This was my favorite from this tasting, with floral notes, apple, honey, ripe pear and a bit of mineral which keeps it clean even with it’s long finish.
2014 Blanc de Blancs
We were lucky to taste the newest Blanc de Blancs their 2014. It was a beautiful bright color and was crisp with green apples and pears and meyer lemon. It had some lovely yeasty brioche and a creamy mouthfeel.
In Addition we tasted the 2008 Royal Cuvée and the 2015 José Ferrer Chardonnay ($40).
2008 Royal Cuvée
The Royal Cuvée has a history. The inaugural vintage of the “Royal Cuvée” was in 1987 and was first served to King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain when they visited California.
It is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. These grapes are handpicked and brought to the winery in small bins and only the first press of gentle whole-cluster press is used. It ferments in stainless steel. It is blended after 6 months then bottled and aged sur-lie in the wine caves for 7 years. It is then disgorged and finished with a dry dosage and aged an additional 6 months before being released.
This has peach, ripe apple and honey on the nose with black cherry and pear on the palate. It is bright and crisp with a hint of ginger at the end.
2015 José Ferrer Chardonnay
The only still wine that we tasted, this 100% Estate Chardonnay, is whole cluster pressed very gently. It is barrel fermented and aged in French oak with 25% of that being new oak, for 9 months. They put a third of the wine through malolactic fermentation. The barrels were stirred monthly for 6 months to mix the lees and create the full mouthfeel of the wine.
This wine had some tropical fruit and green apple, but what stood out to me was the spice. When I described the wine at the tasting, my first thought was “spicy”. This is not heat or pepper, but more baking spices.
The wines were lovely. On our next visit I look forward to tasting the olive oil also. They have multiple tastings to choose from as well as experiences. I was tempted by a flight that had a chocolate pairing. They also have 3 guided tours daily that should be reserved in advance. There are several other experiences: Pinot Journey, Bubbles and Bites, A Taste of Spain, Glassware Exploration, Gloria’s Wine Country Picnic and Reserve Tour that are available with advanced reservations.
This beautiful winery is definitely the perfect way to start a day in Sonoma. If you missed our post on some of the history of Gloria Ferrer, you can find it here Gloria Ferrer – A little history.