Sherwood House: One Stop, Two Labels October 25, 2018
What happens when a vineyard is bought by new owners, who want to make their own style of wine, but the previous owners still use the same grapes for their wines? You get Sherwood House and Hound’s Tree wines, made from the same grapes but in different styles. Sherwood’s winemaker, Gilles Martin, likes the French style, while Hound’s Tree’s owners, who are from Oregon, use a West Coast style. Confusingly, the vineyard is located on the North Fork on Oregon Road.
The last time we were here, the server set us up with parallel tastings, but this time, in the absence of her suggestions, we did a tasting of the Sherwood Classic wines, and then the Hound’s Tree ones. There are actually four tasting options, but the two we did had no overlap. In addition to the set tastings, they will also craft an all white or all red tasting on request.
Since the room is so pleasant, and we realized we’d be there a while, we decided to get a small cheese tray, put together by Lombardi’s Market. $15. Did we want crackers with that? As opposed to what, eating the cheese by hand? That will be an additional $3 for a small sleeve of Carr’s Water Crackers. That seems a bit chintzy to us, especially since the cheese tray is rather meager.
We settled at a table, in sight of the fire in the fireplace, and brought our tastings and our cheese to the table ourselves. Two other couples came in and took glasses of wine to sit on the couches by the fireplace. Through an open doorway we could see into the William Riis gallery, where art, sculpture, and antiques are for sale. Not a bad way to while away an afternoon.
The first five wines are the Sherwood Classics Flight, $30 for a fairly generous pour.
- 2016 Blanc de Blancs $45
This is only the second time they have released a sparkling wine, so it is new to us. Made from chardonnay grapes, it has a slightly vegetal aroma and is a pleasant dry sparkler. It has a slightly yeasty taste, and is light. You could definitely have this with a meal or some charcuterie.
- 2016 Chardonnay $3
Our server describes this as “lightly oaked,” and I agree that it is not overly oaky or buttery or butterscotchy. On the other hand, it is fairly nondescript, I say. Undistinguished, adds my tasting buddy. Bittersweet, with just a trace of butterscotch, even with the cheese it is just okay.
- 2010 Merlot $38
Better than the average North Fork merlot is our assessment of this dry and elegant red. It has aromas and tastes of cherry, as expected, but also some interesting layers of flavor.
- 2014 Cabernet Franc $40
Although this has a nice aroma of brambles and blackberries, there’s not much taste. It’s a soft red, with no tannins, and some minerality. Not a sipping wine, it would be okay with a burger.
- 2010 Sherwood Manor $45
The tasting ends with their Bordeaux blend, of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. The menu describes it as “preciously aged”—whatever that means—in French oak. I smell plums and other red fruit, but it is too cold to taste much, so I warm it in my palm. Ah, now I can taste it. This is quite good, a wine for steak, dry, with various fruit flavors. It’s also nice with the Marcona almonds on the cheese plate.
Each taste comes in its own glass, by the way. Now we move on to the Hound’s Tree Flight, $25 for five tastes. We snack on our crackers and cheese a bit to clear our palates.
- 2016 Rosé $22
The aroma is slightly funky, and smells like fermented berries. Yum. This has more taste than the average rosé, though it is served too cold, of course. It is a blend of 70% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, and 15% cabernet sauvignon. We taste fruit and minerality, but it’s not overly fruity. This would be a good summer sipper.
- 2016 Chardonnay $26
What is acacia aged? The server has told us that this is aged in steel and acacia, but she can’t answer what that means. We sniff and get minerals and just a touch of citrus. My husband sips and says, “Watery.” It is very light. I say it is “not unpleasant,” which is not exactly high praise.
- 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon $29
By the way, we find the labels for the Hound’s Tree wines quite attractive. Although this has almost no aroma, it has, says my husband, “a distinctive taste which lingers in your mouth.” It’s dry, almost tart, with not much fruit at all and some tannins. Perhaps it needs to age longer.
- 2015 Merlot $29
Unlike the Sherwood merlot, which had lots of cherry aroma, this has almost no aroma. It is quite dry, with some tannins but no depth, and is drinkable but not at all complex. Innocuous, is a word we agree on.
- 2015 Cornus Reserve $45
Why “Cornus”? She doesn’t know, and the web site doesn’t even list this wine. In any event, it is their Bordeaux blend, of 62% cabernet sauvignon, 19% merlot, 12% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot, and 3% malbec. Of all the wines we tried today, this is our favorite. It has red plum aromas, and a somewhat complex taste with red fruits and tobacco. The tannins make me think it could improve with age. It would pair well with lamb or mutton chops.
Reasons to visit: pleasant, cozy tasting room with a fireplace and comfy couches; the chance to compare two different styles of winemaking using the same grapes (with very different results); the Sherwood Merlot and Manor; the Hound’s Tree Rosé and Cornus Reserve; you can shop the interesting items in the next-door gallery. If I came there to sit by the fire and sip a glass of wine while listening the
music, I would get a glass of the Cornus.