FEL: Tasting Firsts
There’s nothing like a “first” and that certainly rings true for tasting wines as delish as these are. Not only are these new releases, but this was my first chance to taste the FEL Ferrington and Donnelly Creek Pinot Noirs, which are only available at the winery. As an admirer of FEL for many years, I was curious to see what these different vineyards had to say. I must say that I was impressed by the differences in their voices! The two Pinot Noirs offer a surprising contrast of weight, texture and fruit aromas given how small Anderson Valley is – it’s barely longer than the island of Manhattan – and how relatively closely these vineyards sit!
FEL 2016 Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard Anderson Valley 13.9% $65
Big, brooding and pensive, this is a Rodin sort of wine. Don’t expect that your final impressions will come easily, even if the wine holds well into Day Two with half a bottle down on the first day. It is pithier in tannins than the Donnelly Creek and – despite the lower alcohol – more expansive on the breadth and texture front. The raspy blackberry and blackcurrant zip give this wine exuberant, fresh fruit definition. Fun and flattering, this is an easy one to recommend for the next few years drinking. I’m loving the feistily flavored and lingering finish!
FEL 2016 Pinot Noir Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley 14.1% $65
Ultra-fine and elegant, this is the more ethereal wine of the duo. Though technically a few decimal points higher in alcohol, this wine has a lift and a vibrancy that give it even greater refreshment. The supple, fluid palate shows only a modestly tannic presence on the reverberating finish. This is fun, highly sippable and complex with cranberry tinges peeking through the blueberry and black plum fruit core. Its suave and glossy character give it a very New World feel, but its dynamic zip shows that it’s definitely a cool climate wine.
FEL 2017 Chardonnay Anderson Valley 13.7% $32
This sultry Chardonnay offers a slick - almost thick - palate that follows with a surprisingly pithy, minerally dryness. That’s not a typical combo for a New World wine, and the textural dichotomy is fascinating. Though the acidity is dynamic, it’s the attractive tannic edge that drives this wine’s focus. The mid-palate is almost pulpy with richly ripe fruit: pineapple, sweet yellow pear and quince are especially prominent. It’s delicious to taste the layers unfold over the course of several hours. To fully appreciate its flavor depth, don’t serve it too cold.