By Lenn Thompson, Long Island Editor and Editor-in-ChiefSherwood House Vineyards in Mattituck, NY, the focus is set squarely on Old World-style chardonnay and merlot. My distaste for regional comparisons aside, their chardonnay is extremely Burgundian and the merlots show restraint and elegance rather than jammy one dimension.
Owners Charles and Barbara Smithen purchased their 1860 farmhouse on Oregon Road in 1996 and planted their vines soon after, starting with 5 acres of chardonnay before planing just over 15 acres more with merlot and chardonnay in 1997. Nearly 7 acres of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot were added in 2000, meaning that almost 27 of their 38 acres are under vine.
The vineyard is managed by veteran vineyard manager and consultant Steve Mudd, and the wines are made by French-born Gilles Martin, who makes wines for a few other small producers.
Sherwood House 2004 Blanc de Blanc ($37) is the Smithen's first sparkling wine release, and is made with 100% estate-grown chardonnay. And, it's one of the best North Fork sparklers I've had lately.
Fine, persistent bubbles burst with fruit aromas of fresh golden delicious apples, pears and lemon zest backed by toasty brioche, spicy lees and yeast notes.
Delicate but flavorful and clean on the palate, the flavors move between apple and citrus -- with that yeasty toastiness there every step along the way. The mid-palate is creamy before giving way to fresh, palate-cleansing acidity.
Producer: Sherwood House Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Rating: (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive)