It was a chilly rainy September Saturday, but the agritainment business was in full swing. We passed up the Harbes Pumpkin Fest and stopped in at the Garden of Eve Garlic Fest (disappointing–no pickled garlic, only one booth making garlic braids, and lots of booths selling the same jewelry we saw at the Maritime Festival) before ending our outing at Sherwood House Winery, on the main road. They have a little tasting shack in Mattituck, on Oregon Road, in the midst of their vineyard, but now they also have a very nice though small tasting room on Main Road in Jamesport. They share their space with a shop called Material Objects, which sells various interestingly quirky household items. Inside the room, there was a lovely fire in the fireplace, very welcome on this damp afternoon, and a group of people sitting around it in comfortable chairs, enjoying a tasting. We stood at the bar, where we chatted a bit with wine club members doing a tasting and pick-up and other people. A musician in the corner played quietly.
The tasting choices are the $8 Estate Flight of four wines, the $10 Premium Flight, also of four wines, or the $14 Owner’s Flight, of four of their highest quality wines. We opted to share one Estate and one Premium. A couple next to us got the Owner’s Flight, which began with a champagne-style sparkling wine, and the information from the well-informed and alert server that their winemaker is from the Champagne region of France. Hmmm…maybe next time…
In the notes that follow, the even-numbered notes are from the Premium tasting, and the odd-numbered ones from the Estate one.
1. 2011 Unoaked Chardonnay $18
Their only all-steel fermented chard, this pleasant wine has a lemony aroma and a nice, light, clean taste with a creamy finish. It would make a lovely summer sipper, out on the deck, perhaps. Good, and buyable.
2. 09 Chardonnay $30
In contrast, this chard spent several months in oak, and has the usual, though faint, aroma of vanilla and wood. We taste unripe pear, with some grapefruit, but an unpleasantly sweet finish that we don’t care for.
3. 2011 Bouquet Rose $18
Screwtop! The server informs us that this is not their own wine, but is made from their grapes by another wine maker, and is in the tasting because they have sold out of their own rose. Made from cabernet franc grapes, this reminds us of cherry Kool-Aid! Dumpable. Light and sweet, if that’s what you like.
4. 05 Merlot $34
This one is good with chocolate, says the server, and we agree (Though we would like to have the chance to try it WITH chocolate, none is on offer…). The aroma is dark cherry, with some oak, and the taste is moderately dry, with a faint hint of the earthy terroir, but otherwise nicely fruity. This merlot spends 18 months in oak, and is a lovely wine, and would be good with pork chops or turkey (starting to think about Thanksgiving).
5. 04 Oregon Road Merlot $16
This is our favorite of the day, and we buy two bottles to have with barbequed ribs tonight. Not a lot of aroma, but lovely fruit tastes with a slight hint of smoke. 13 months in oak, we are told.
6. 06 Merlot $25
This one spends 18 months in oak, and is also very good. The aroma is of black raspberry, and though it is dry there is plenty of plum and raspberry flavor, with a bit of oak and a slight touch of smoke.
7. 04 Merlot $20
The 04 also spent 18 months in oak, and it is interesting that Sherwood House tends to hold onto their reds for several years before release. Again, aromas of berry and oak, with some sweetness and a light taste. Pleasant, but not exciting, and while we would not refuse to drink it we have no inclination to buy it.
8. 08 Merliance $40
Merliance is a blend–what Lewis Carroll would call a “portmanteau word”–of Merlot and alliance, and is made from grapes grown by Castello Borghese, Clovis Point, McCall’s, Pellegrini, Sherwood House and Wolffer Estates, each of which contributes two barrels of wine to the mixture. Though not worth the price, it is a nice wine, with a flowery aroma and nice legs. The proceeds from the sale of this wine benefit various events and research sponsored by the alliance.
Reasons to visit: Really nice reds, a cozy tasting room with a fireplace for cold days, the chance to browse an interesting household goods store. Buyable: Unoaked Chardonnay and Oregon Road Merlot and 05 Merlot.
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