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1998 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Reserve, Red Blend, Sonoma

I first had this wine at a random dinner party, where it was brought to me in a glass by a friend. I had sampled several other red wines that evening which were mostly unremarkable, but decent. I had just asked to be refilled and was deep in conversation when my glass appeared in my hand and in the course of talking, had a mouthful.

I was stopped in mid-conversation and forced to exclaim, "wow, this is really good." Compared to the over-oaked Cabernets, Merlots, and Syrahs that I had been drinking that night, this wine was alive with dancing fruit and chocolate flavors. At the first opportunity, I tracked down the bottle and took notes (and poured my self another glass) and the next day after finding some on the Internet I had a few bottles on the way to me.

Since then, nearly a year has passed and those bottles were tucked away in my highly disorganized cellar, and basically forgotten. So much so that the other day when I had another Ferarri-Carano wine (reviewed here) it didn't even register that I had tasted their wines before. Turns out that they are quite the extravagant operation in Sonoma. However, despite having several branded retail stores and restaurants under their umbrella, they seem to be churning out pretty darn good wines, and at the end of the day, that's what counts.

Last night with some friends over for pizza, I pulled this wine out and I experienced again why it was so memorable. It's a blend of classic Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) but comes across much more boldly and brash than most any European wine.

Tasting Notes:
This wine has a lovely bottle: embossed glass and fiery red and yellow artwork on the label, and the wine pours darkly from the thick heavy glass, a deep purple red despite being a 6 year old wine. The nose is expansive and deepens over several hours, resonating with blackberries, figs and dark chocolate. In the mouth the wine is highly extracted with flavors of both cherry and boysenberry, chocolate, coffee and incense. There are some slight floral notes as well, especially in the finish, likely from the Petit Verdot. Despite its extraction, there are unobtrusive tannins which work to balance the wine and avoid it being lopsided.

Food Pairing:
Well, it seemed to go wine with a Pepperoni Pizza from up the street, but that's a little casual for this wine. I'd drink this wine with anything you might pair with a more fruit oriented zinfandel or syrah, like grilled sausages with chunky tomato and porcini mushroom sauce.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $23 - $29

I paid $22 for mine, but it looks like you can get it from various Internet merchants at a range of prices. Try Wine Searcher for someone near you. The winery also sells a special 3 liter bottle on their site, as well as more recent vintages.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.