Corey Creek Vineyards, owned by New Line Cinema chairman Michael Lynne, produces mostly white wines (the reds are bottled under sister winery Bedell Cellars' label), including one of Long Island's best gewurztraminers, a flavorful late harvest riesling and two different styles of chardonnay.
Too often, Long Island chardonnay is severely over oaked in an attempt to make the rich, buttery style that (unfortunately) remains so popular with consumers. These wines usually fail because, unlike warmer California regions, local fruit just doesn't get as ripe and can't stand up to heavy oak.
Disappointingly few local producers balance fruit and oak well -- but CoreyCreek Vineyards 2005 Reserve Chardonnay ($30) pulls it off.
2005 was a super-ripe vintage on Long Island and that comes through in this wine. Medium straw yellow in the glass, it has a toasty, citrusy nose that has definite ripe Mandarin orange undertones and grapefruit.
It's not the most complex chardonnay, but the balance is impeccable. Rich flavors of lemon, orange, white flowers and toasted bread remain bright and crisp because malolactic fermentation was stopped at 64%. Medium bodied from start to finish, the length is medium long.
In August, this was named New York State's top chardonnay at the 2006 New York Wine & Food Classic in Canandaigua. Do I think it's New York's best? No, but it's hard to find a better balanced wine that is more versatile at the table.