So, what do you get when you combine spectacular terroir, generational winemaking knowledge, and a desire to make terrific wines? Fathers + Daughters Cellars, of course! So, the story goes like this: Kurt Schoeneman, the owner of Anderson Valley’s Ferrington Vineyard, had a daughter, Sarah. Sarah married Guy Pacurar, and together, with their daughters Ella and Taylor, they created Fathers + Daughters Cellars. Fast forward to modern times and the ninth vintage of F+D Ferrington Vineyards Pinot Noir (among others). I recently had the opportunity to sample three of the winery’s top wines: the 2022 Anderson Valley/Ferrington Chardonnay, the 202 Pinot Noir, and the unique 2022 Sarah’s Rustic Bubbles Anderson Valley/Ferrington Sparkling Chardonnay.
F+D produces high-end, high-quality wines that appeal to oenophiles, experienced wine drinkers, and anyone interested in upgrading their wine experience. While not exorbitantly priced, the range ventures into the higher price bracket, with the core products ranging from $30 to $55 per 750ml bottle (USD retail). At this range, I would expect wines to be consistently high-quality, and I’m pleased to say that the samples I tried exceeded that expectation.
The 2022 Chardonnay (still wine) was a quintessential Anderson Valley chardonnay, rife with lemony butter, subdued tropical fruits, green apples, and the unmistakable richness of sur lies fermentation. The rich malolactic impact is balanced by suitable acidity and a crisp minerality akin to wet slate. This is a big, full-bodied wine, well suited to sauced and rich foods such as lobster Thermador, Coquilles St-Jacques, and Coq au Vin, and even into duck and pork territory. It’s an elegant wine; many will find it compares favorably to others in its $32 price class.
The 2020 Ella’s Reserve Ferrington Vineyards Pinot Noir, named in honor of one of their daughters, is an annually produced showcase wine for the winery. Like most of their wines, it’s produced using grapes from Ferrington Vineyards, the acclaimed estate owned by the family’s patriarch, Kurt Schoeneman. Originally planted in the 1980s by Balvern Vineyards, it’s known for consistently highly-rated wines, especially its Pinot Noirs. Fathers + Daughters continues that tradition, and this vintage is no exception.
Despite being a big and complex red wine, it’s incredibly approachable. Juicy and fruity, it opens with aromas of jammy berries, tart cherry, floral shop, and moist loam. It’s round, full-bodied, and chewy on the palate, while the soft tannins maintain an overall fruity freshness. Flavors of intense berries lead to more jammy fruit, tobacco, leather, and coffee with a long, slightly acidic finish. Like most quality pinot noir, it’s well-suited to food (although I like my reds with cheese more than with a meal). I sampled it with English Cotswold, Stilton, Pecorino romano, and a nicely aged New England cheddar, and each was a spectacular matchup. I can imagine this served with thick grilled pork chops, turkey roulade, or my fav, lamb shepherd’s pie! AT $55 (USD, 750ml), it’s not in my “daily drinker” wine budget, but it is unquestionably worthy of a nice dinner, gift, or special occasion!
The third sample caught me by surprise. Despite the label clearly denoting that it is a “bubbly” chardonnay, the bottle of 2022 Sarah’s Rustic Bubbles looks a lot like one of those large European beer bottles, replete with a cloudy appearance and a crimped metal cap in place of a cork and wire topper. I must embarrassingly admit that I was unfamiliar with pétillant natural wines (lovingly called pét-nats), a class of sparkling wine that began to pop up between 2015 and 2020. Produced in the style of sparkling wines that predates the modern “Méthode Traditionnelle,” producers bottle the wine during the initial fermentation process. It results in sparklers that range from relatively clean and clear to cloudy and funky.
The “informal” look belies the quality and the price, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! Unquestionably a product of their chardonnay line, it possesses many of the base wine’s characteristics – buttery richness, crisp orchard fruit freshness, lemony yeast, grapefruit zest, and a characteristic underlying minerality. The perlage is smaller and slightly less effervescent than typical sparklers, fading more quickly. However, the resultant “still” wine is superb, and the loss of fizz is not a detriment. I didn’t find the cloudiness and residual sediment a detraction, either – it was just a great glass of wine! It retails at the same $32 as the chardonnay.
Fathers + Daughters has tapped into a rich vein of heritage despite its relatively short legacy. The quality of these three wines, and perhaps more importantly, the consistency of quality across the varietals, bodes well for the brand’s future. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the wines courtesy of the fathers and their daughters!