Thursday, April 08, 2010

Miguel Martin Making A Difference at Palmer

"Mr. Palmer, more entrepreneur than oenophile, bought the farmland for his vineyard, in Aquebogue, just east of Riverhead, after selling his interest in Kelly Nason, a Manhattan advertising agency. This was in 1983, when the Long Island wine industry was nascent. The winery opened three years later as one of the most modern in the region and soon became one of the most tourist-friendly, showing the way for many of the vintners in the region that came later," wrote Bruce Weber in the New York Times in January of 2009, when Mr. Palmer died.

“He was one of the first major investors in the region,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, the winemaker at Raphael, a North Fork winery established in 1996. “I helped him make his first wine in 1985.” Palmer was a showman and marketer, one of the first on Long Island.

Palmer was fond of saying, "I've got to be careful, my name is on every bottle."

Today, Miguel Martin is the keeper of Palmer's flame. He is a talented and competent winemaker, who consistently turns out solid wines. He is one of the most well-traveled, most expereinced winemakers on the island. His hiring in 2006 by Palmer himself, was big news out on the island.
“Miguel Martin is an important addition to the Long Island winemaking scene,” said Palmer at the time. “He brings not only 10 years of experience working with the highly regarded Robert Mondavi Co., but also has winemaking experience from all over the world. This really qualifies him to understand the uniqueness of Long Island.”
“I wanted a place where I could spend more quality time with my family and do small-scale, hands-on winemaking,” Martin said, explaining his reason for coming to Long Island. “I think this region has great potential to make wonderful wine.”
Martin was technical director of Otero, a year-old, 300,000-case-a-year winery in Castilla-La Mancha built in the past year near Toledo, Spain, at a cost of 17 million Euros by Gonzalez Byass, the Spanish wine producer best known for its Tio Pepe sherry. Before joining Otero he was director of winemaking at Bodegues Sumarroca in Penedes, Spain. From 1997 to 2003, Martin was varietal program manager for white wines at Mondavi’s 6-million-case Woodbridge Winery. He also served as winemaker and vineyard manager at Durney Vineyards, a 25,000-case premium wine producer in California’s Carmel Valley and before that was winemaker at the 250,000-case Calitera Winery in Chile. His experience also includes work at Yalumba Winery in Australia’s Barrosa Valley, the Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma, Calif.; LeReve Winery in Southampton and Pazo del Ribeiro in Orense, in Spain’s Galicia region.

I tasted two of his wines recently.
The Rose' Merlot was bright, with a big strawberry nose and a lovely bright refreshing wine, with a wonderful tart finish. A lovely rose'. Impressive.
The wine I liked very much was the Select Reserve. It was a big forward dry red, with lots of deep fleshy fruits on the nose, like blackberry and dark raspberry, dark cherries, and thenfinished smooth, with nice tannins, a hint of vanilla, and wonderful mouthfeel. An elegant dry deep red. A lovely wine.

Mr. Martin was brought in to make world class wines in Long Island. His appearance on the island has certainly made a difference.