It was what Winnie-the –Pooh calls a “blustery day” (This is what happens when you hang out with a 21-month-old.), and we thought we’d check out the Jazz on the Vine program at Jamesport Vineyard. When we couldn’t find a place to park, we left and headed a little way down the road to Comtesse Thérèse, a combination bistro and winery. We had only been there in the summer, when the tasting room is a charmingly disheveled back patio, with cast iron furniture and a view of the herb garden (and of the chef as he steps out of the kitchen to pick some herbs), so we weren’t sure what to expect. The wind blew us around the front and through the door of the restored old house, where we quickly found ourselves in a cozy bar with a friendly and accommodating bartender. Fortunately, since we had promised our granddaughter music, there was quiet jazz playing in the background. The four of us settled into a corner of the bar and looked over the menu. The option of 4 tastes for $8 sounded good, and the bartender intelligently figured out how to give us tastes of 8 wines—four and four—so we could sample a wider selection. Although we didn’t stay for a meal, we have eaten there in the past and been very pleased with its French bistro-style food and emphasis on local produce.
- 2011 Chardonnay $13
The bartender starts us all off with their steel-fermented chardonnay, which is on sale. An aroma of fresh-cut grass heralds a taste of steel and green apple, with some honey notes. It is surprisingly mellow for an all-steel chard, and a bit unctuous, according to our son-in-law. Very buyable, which we both accomplish.
- Russian Oak Chardonnay 2009 $22
Ooh, nice legs, we say. This chard spends 4 months in oak, and we do detect an oaky aroma. The flavor is light, with some notes of Meyer lemon—or maybe lemon dots!
- 2011 Sauvignon Blanc $28
I think I smell a trace of something metallic as well as the more typical honeysuckle. Nicely dry and a bit grassy, all we need now is a dozen local oysters!
- 2011 Rosé $22
Well, Croteaux remains the standard of excellence for NoFo rosés. This one has a nice raspberry aroma, but has not much character and is somewhat monochromatic. Well chilled on a hot day it might be fine, and the finish is nice.
- 2011 Blanc de Noir $24
We like this rosé better, with its apricot aroma and edge of citrus flavor, though it is a bit sweet for our taste.
- 2008 Hungarian Oak Merlot $24
My notes for this wine are somewhat obscured by a 21-month-old’s “decoration,” but then I gave her a page from my notebook and another pen so she could take notes just like grandma. Although this wine doesn’t have much aroma, it has a pleasant cherry flavor with some earthiness at first and tannins at the end.
- 2007 Aquebogue Estate Merlot $25 (for the 08)
Noticing our serious approach to the tasting, the bartender gives us the 07 Merlot rather than the 08 because, he says, it is better. We do like it. It has nice fruit with some acidity to add interest.
- 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $30
This one is a favorite with our daughter and son-in-law, who buy a bottle. It has aromas and tastes of black fruits, like plums. It would be good with lamb, because it has enough acidity to cut the fat.
- 2007 Canadian Oak Cabernet Sauvignon $32
And we prefer this one, and buy a bottle! This is somewhat heavier than the Estate Cab Sauv, with more complexity and cherry flavors as well. It would pair well with steak. The bartender informs us that they are the only winery in the area to use Canadian oak.
Before she opened her own tasting room, we met “Comtesse Thérèse”—actually Tree Dilworth, an attractive young woman—at The Tasting Room, now The Winemaker’s Studio. We had a delightful conversation with her, and were impressed with her passion for wine, but no, she is not actually a “Comtesse”!
Reasons to visit: Cozy attractive bar area in the winter, charming garden in the summer; 2011 Chardonnay,2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 06 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 07 Canadian Oak Cabernet Sauvignon; you can go on after the tasting to have a meal in the pretty, intimate bistro. Oh, and if you want to take notes, they have lots of feather pens.