Roanoke Vineyards is still relatively new on the North Fork scene, but its red wines are already among the best made on the East Coast. In time, I believe they will also prove to be among the most long lived wines as well (I'm talking 20 years here).
The wine that first "hooked" me on Roanoke was their 2000 merlot. I have one bottle of that wine left and when I opened a previous bottle a year or so ago, it wasn't even close to peaking. We'll see how patient I'll be.
But, no matter how good any winery's red wines are, most eventually realize that they need at least a white wine or two for tasting room visitors. That's probably particularly true when those red wines start at $30 and go up from there.
With those reasons in mind, Roanoke introduced their first chardonnay (to join a nice rose) last year. That first chardonnay effort was good, straightforward and gulpable, but it didn't knock me over.
This year's chardonnay, however, was the surprise of a recent trip to wine country.
This is an extremely young wine, just bottled month or so ago, but at $18 is already among the best chardonnay values on the North Fork. 60% fermented in steel with 40% barrel fermented it overflows with fresh pear and golden delicious apple, blanched almonds and just little tropical fruit. The balance is impeccable here and this is wine that expertly merges the freshness of steel fermented chardonnay and the richness and complexity brought about by oak barrels. To find such complexity in such young wine is special.