José and Gloria Ferrer at the 1986 opening of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma, CA. (Photo: © Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards,  1986)
Joseé and Gloria Ferrer at the 1986 opening of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma, California (Photo: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, 1986)

A vineyard tribute to Gloria Ferrer

It has been 30 years since Sonoma Valley’s one and only sparkling wine house, Gloria Ferrer & Vineyards, opened its doors.

In 1982, Pedro Ferrer, son of José Ferrer (President of Honor of the Freixenet Group, makers of the best selling cava in the world), purchased 250 acres in the Carneros AVA in southern Sonoma County in California. The vineyard was named after Gloria Ferrer, wife of José. (Good call Pedro!)

The view from Gloria Ferrer's patio is one of the best in Northern California Wine Country.
The view from Gloria Ferrer’s patio is one of the best in Northern California Wine Country

30 years and still pouring sparkling wine

In 1986, they opened their Catalan-inspired tasting room on the property. Since its opening, countless bubble-loving locals (like me) and tourists have indulged in sparkling wine, Catalan food, and beautiful views.

To commemorate Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards’ 30th anniversary, the winery has released an exclusive sparkling wine. In a mere coincidence, they have also released their first still chardonnay under the newly formed José S. Ferrer label.

Gloria Ferrer's 2013 Anniversary Rosé

Gloria Ferrer 2013 Anniversary Rosé

Gloria Ferrer’s 2013 Anniversary Rosé is a tribute to 30 years of “glorious” Sonoma sparkling wine.

It’s dramatically different from their Brut Rosé. I have never been smitten with their Brut Rosé, even though it has quite a cult following. For me, this new Anniversary Rosé is the cream of the crop of the rosé that Gloria Ferrer has produced over the years.

The Anniversary Rosé reminds me of select cremant rosés I have been tasting in recent years, including JCB No. 69, which is one of my favorite sparkling wines on the market.

First, it’s 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay, unlike their Brut Rosé, which is 90% pinot noir and 10% chardonnay. Those dramatic percentages of how much of what varietal is used in the wine production makes a huge difference.

The blend of pinot and chardonnay makes this wine very balanced. It’s tingly and refreshing on my nose, with a bit of tartness one expects from currently in-season Bing cherries, fall crab apple jam and green Granny Smith apples.

The mouthfeel is tart, which is where the cremant similarities appear. I experienced a continuation of Bing cherry, with an addition of nectarine and quince. Wintergreen also made a brief appearance, adding to a refreshing quality – it’s just a hint to perk one’s senses.

Ginger and white pepper tickle at the end of the tasting experience. This sparkling will pair great with smoked salmon or trout or a savory marinated goat cheese, like those produced by Chevoo or Laura Chenel.

The grapes used to produce this wine were selected from their best picks of pinot noir and chardonnay in 2013 – which was a very high yield year thanks to warm, yet mild temperatures and the curse and blessing of the ongoing California drought.

The 2014 José S. Ferrer Chardonnay is a great chardonnay to convert chardonnay-fearing wine drinkers.

2014 José S. Ferrer Chardonnay

Many sparkling wine houses don’t just produce sparkling wines – they also produce still wines from the grapes they use to produce bubbles. For example, many of the sparkling wine houses in Northern California Wine Country make still pinot noir and chardonnay wines.

This is the first year for the José S. Ferrer Chardonnay. It’s a reserve wine, using grapes from the vineyards located on Gloria Ferrer’s 335-acre property.

I was really impressed by this chardonnay. I describe it as a “convert chardonnay” in a time when younger wine drinkers (20s and 30s) are shrugging off chardonnay in exchange for sauvignon blanc or rosé. (“Fear the butter!”)

The nose is tropical with Asian pear and a bit of papaya and apple. It’s pleasant and with low malolatic fermentation at 10%, so butter-bomb fearing wine drinkers won’t have to fret with this wine.

The mouthfeel is very silky, with a light toast that is balanced with nice acid that lends to a crispness that one expects from a sauvignon blanc. However, this is truly a chardonnay, and that mild toastiness makes it reminiscent of an white Burgundy.

This wine will pair great with sweet seafood like lobster and dungeness crab, lox, or buttery crackers with warm brie. A great chardonnay for any season.

The details

The 2014 José S. Ferrer Chardonnay retails at $40 and is winery exclusive, you can buy it online here or at the winery.

Gloria Ferrer’s 2013 Anniversary Rosé retails at $50 and only 1,500 cases were produced. The kicker? It’s wine club exclusive. So, either join the club or find a club member to share it with you!

Learn more about Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards here or visit them at 23555 Highway 121, Sonoma CA 95476. (707) 933-1917.

Have you ever had Gloria Ferrer bubbles?

Share your experience below!

I confess: I was invited to taste these wines at the tasting room, but don’t fret – these opinions are mine and mine alone.

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