Located on the Main Road in Jamesport in an 1860s farmhouse, Sherwood House’s tasting room has a homey, slightly funky atmosphere, enhanced by the fireplace in the main room, the outdoor deck areas, and the adjacent Material Objects shop which features antique and found objects of all sorts. They also have an outdoor tasting area in their vineyard in Mattituck, which may or may not be open. As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed an exciting sign: raw bar. Oh goody! We have become enamored of the local Peconic Bay oysters.
The main room is homey and cozy, with soft couches in front of the fireplace (which actually has a fire in the winter), bunches of flowers, and a wooden bar along one side. You can also opt to go outside, either to a back deck or to a front seating area with picnic tables. On this Saturday afternoon the room also contains a singer/guitar player, strumming folk-ish songs. As we stand at the bar we see a huge party bus pull into the parking lot, but they are clearly headed for the tasting barn out back, where we went last winter for a very enjoyable music performance.
The tasting menu offers three flights: Estate, four tastes for $10; Premium, four for $12; or Top Reds, four for $15. They also offer a taste of their brandy, $10 for a one-ounce pour. There is some overlap amongst the offerings, so they don’t actually have 12 wines. They also offer a cheese platter for $20, and wines by the glass for $6-12.
We decide to share a tasting of the Premium flight, and then decide whether to get another tasting or go for a glass of wine to have with a plate of oysters.
- 2012 Oregon Road Chardonnay $18
Oregon Road is the pretty back road on which their vineyard is located, where you can also find Shinn and Lieb’s tasting rooms. This is their steel fermented chard, a pleasant but rather soft and not-crisp quaff, with tastes of sweet ripe pineapple and an aroma of sweet orange.
- 2011 Chardonnay $30
Of course this smells like vanilla and ripe pear, as it is an oaked chard, with tastes of tangerine on the front, then butterscotch and vanilla. It is surprisingly tart for an oaked chard, though it is mellow enough to make it a pleasant sipping wine. We quite like it.
- 2007 Merlot $26
Since 07 was a very good year on the North Fork, we have high hopes for this merlot, but our server warns us not to get our hopes up too high. “The 07 is at the end of its development,” he notes, “and the 08 has more growth potential.” Sniff. Earth, tobacco, and something organic. Taste. Some dark fruit, tobacco, dry but not tannic, and not much of a finish. I would say, if you have a bottle of this, drink it now.
- 2008 Merlot $34
Much better! The tasting menu notes this scored an 87 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and we can see why. “The aroma just jumped out at me,” says my husband. Not sure what he means, but it smells delicious. No earth, lots of fruit, and then we taste dark fruit and chocolate. Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad pairing—this wine and some dark chocolate, maybe with a bit of raspberry in the chocolate. This is our favorite of the day, and if we come here during the winter for a concert, I would get a glass of this.
However, we are headed for the oysters. Though we feel it wouldn’t be the best pairing, we opt for glasses of the 2011 Chardonnay, though I would prefer a sauvignon blanc to go with oysters. The oysters are delicious, sweet and briny and full of liquid, fresh from Peconic Bay, to the west of Robins Island, as we are told. We spend a pleasant half hour sitting outside, enjoying our wine and bivalves and listening to the music from inside, which we appreciate much more now that it is not quite so loud.
Reasons to visit: a very pleasant tasting room; an intimate setting that also can accommodate groups; the chance to browse the collection at Material Objects; the 2011 Chardonnay and the 2008 Merlot.