Translated from French garagiste literally means “garage owner," but in the world of wine, it's used to describe a winemaker who produces small lots of high-quality, handcrafted wines – sometimes right in his or her own garage.
And while Roth didn't make his private label — Grapes of Roth — in his garage, he's embraced the garagiste philosophy, crafting fewer than two hundred cases of his 2001 Grapes of Roth Merlot ($50).
Roth grew up in a wine-loving family in Germany and started his winemaking career early. "I was 16. My father was a cooper and a winemaker before starting a wine and beer merchant business. As a result, both of my parents were wine lovers and collectors. Wine always played a special part in any occasion. I was intrigued by the winemaking process and all the different [wine] regions in the world. The creative aspect and the opportunity to travel ultimately made me stay in the business."
After his initial apprenticeship at the Kaiserstuhl Wine Cooperative in Oberrotweil, German, Roth worked briefly at Saintsbury Estate, a respected winery in Carneros, California as well as at Rosemount Estate in Australia. In 1992, he joined Wolffer Estate as both winemaker and general manager.
It was a 1997 trip to Burgundy, however, that inspired Roth to create Grapes of Roth. "This trip marked a turning point in my career. To tour and travel in this unique area that grows and produces some of the greatest wines in the world helped to define my three goals in winemaking — food friendliness, longevity and to be authentic to a region and a traditional style. Little plots of land, multiple lots in the cellar producing individual, hand-selected and crafted wines — it was here that the seed of Grapes of Roth was sown."
So, in 2001 — one of the best vintages ever for Long Island — Roth chose a special block of merlot from Martha Clara Vineyards on the North Fork to make his first Grapes of Roth release.
Unfiltered and unfined, Roth's 2001 merlot is a deep, opaque brick red in the glass. Highly aromatic, the nose is rich and youthful with intense black cherries, grilled steak and Moroccan spice. As is true with most Roth creations, this wine is fruit forward, but balanced — with cherries, spearmint, sweet basil and faint smoked meat flavors. Full bodied but still remarkably elegant, this is a wine of nearly ideal balance that should improve with cellar time — probably up to ten years.
Roth has dedicated this wine to his father, Remigius Roth, who is pictured on the front label.
To order Grapes of Roth Merlot call 631-725-7999 or email [email protected].