(This column appeared originally in the 6/3/05 issue of Dan's Papers)
I was invited to a Memorial Day party last weekend and, as usual, volunteered to bring wine (along with my famous-in-some-circles grilled chicken wings). Because not many of the party’s attendees drink wine and those that do usually stick to light, fairly innocuous whites, I knew I had to leave my favorite BBQ wine – cabernet franc – at home. But I also knew Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue was releasing four new whites, so I figured I’d take those with me after doing a private tasting. The folks at Palmer called these wines “perfect summer wines.”
Perfect? No, but because the wines are all from the 2004 vintage, they are young and, in some cases, still a little tight.
Palmer Vineyards 2004 White Riesling ($14) is a nice, light-bodied white for the wine newbies in any crowd. Its nose is lightly floral with hints of citrus while its palate offers tight, slightly underwhelming peach and other fruit flavors in an off-dry style. I think with time, the fruitiness will develop and grow, but I was left wanting a bit more acidity to balance the residual sugar.
I tell anyone that will listen that gewurztraminer is the ideal white to serve with spicy Asian or Mexican food, and that goes for spicy party foods like my grilled wings, too. Palmer Vineyards 2004 Gewurztraminer ($17) features the expected exotic citrus aromas and flavors with a gently spicy finish. Again, it’s made in an off-dry style and a touch more acidity would have improved its balance. Make sure you don’t over-chill this one; it’s better only slightly chilled.
Pinot blanc is one of the most under-appreciated varietals around and Palmer Vineyards 2004 Pinot Blanc ($13) was my favorite of these releases. Through a combination of steel and barrel fermentation, winemaker Tom Drozd has crafted a medium-bodied wine with delicate lemon aromas, fresh melon flavors and a citrus finish that is slightly creamy.
If you think that sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is too harsh and California versions are just flabby Chardonnay wannabes, Long Island Sauvignon Blanc is for you. Though not the best one available, Palmer Vineyards 2004 Sauvignon Blanc ($13) is quite tasty and well priced for daily summer sipping. It delivers the grassy aromas I like and even a little “cat pee” (that’s a good thing with this varietal). On the tongue, it’s fresh and crisp with grapefruit and lemongrass. This is a good, everyday style of Sauvignon Blanc.
It’s important to say again that these wines are still pretty young and they’ll certainly evolve with a few more months of bottle time. Try them at Palmer’s tasting room this summer and taste for yourself. Remember, ultimately it’s your palate that you should listen to.
Me, I’ll stick with the Blancs – Sauvignon and Pinot.
For more information on Palmer Vineyards, visit www.palmervineyards.com or call 722-9463.