Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sherwood House Chardonnay 2001



OK, so I have been a fan of Sherwood House for many years. I've been drinking their wines since at least 2000 or 2001. And even at the fanciest dinner parties I have ever thrown, with the biggest wine snobs I know, I have always served Sherwood House as our chardonnay, and have never recieved anything but plaudits.

Established in l996, Sherwood House Vineyards has been committed to the production of world class wines using only estate-grown vinifera grapes. Owners Dr. Charles Smithen and wife Barbara believe that producing fine wine is a combination of passion and patience, handcrafting their wines using traditional methods combined with the latest scientific techniques.

"There's very little nature and man can do in true harmony," says Dr. Smithen. "A vineyard is one of those things. Making wine requires both science and art to excel. Anyone can learn the science. But it's the art, the near-intuitive understanding, the smell, sense, and feel, that makes the difference."

Dr. and Barbara Smithen were North Fork, Long Island residents for over twenty years, and they finally found their dream home in 1996. The farmhouse, which was built in 1860, and the surrounding 38 acres of former corn and potato fields offered outstanding conditions for growing wine grapes. The Smithen's initially planted Chardonnay vines from Burgundian clones, after careful research and planning with vineyard manager Steve Mudd, have since added Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Mudd is easilly the best vineyard man on the east coast - bar none!

Gilles Martin is the winemaker. Award-winning winemaker Gilles Martin has directed the operations of more than two dozen wineries during his fifteen years of viniculture experience and has been the head winemaker at Sherwood House since it's inception. He is also the winemaker at Sparkling Point, and was the winemaker previously at Macari Vineyards. His reputation is impressive.

It's important to note that the Smithens have worked with two of the best pros in the business out on Long Island, in Mudd and Martin, which shows their commitment to aking exceptional wine.

Which brings me to my story. Searching through the cellar the other day, I found a Sherwood House 2001 Chardonnay. My first thought was, "Damn, I let this go too long." But I decided to chill it and see what was left inside.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Hudson Valley. Spectacular. I drove around the valley. It was stunning. We attended my son's band concert at the school - outside, a la' Tanglewod, and then came home to grill chicken and determined to open the Sherwood House.

The snap, crackle and sizzle of the chicken, and it's wonderful aromas (rubbed with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and other spices) filled the air.

I opened the chilled bottle with trepidation, sure the wine might be oxidized and lost by now.

Instead, a light golden elixor spilled forth from the bottle. Now, one of the things I have to say, yet again in a Sherwood House review, is that I do not like oaky chardonnays. And the Smithens and Martin are dedicated to making a rich, buttery chardonnay in the best Burgundian tradition. But the Sherwood House chards seem to completely transcend the awful, heavy bodied, too sweet, oaky chards of California (save Kistler, Pahlmeyer, Hanzell, and Patz & Hall).

Sherwood's bright, acidic fruit, and Martin's light touch produce an incredible wine. The color is a light golden wine, with aroma's of green apple, melon, and a hint of lemon, all washing with the light scent of vanilla. The fruit explodes in your mouth, with a fresh green apple and it's wonderful acidity, but also with hints of honeydew and lemon. But the bite is never too harsh, as the wine has a slightlycreamy texture with an incredible finish.

This was a ten year old wine! It wa like I had just opened it brand new! Now I was pissed all over again! This could have stayed in the bottle another five years! Where was I going to get another 10 year old bottle of Sherwood House?

This was an incredible wine. Truly one of the best chardonnays I have ever had - bar none - take on all comers, California and France! A fabulous wine! Now, I've got to go buy more bottles and stock up my depleted store of Sherwood House Chardonnay!

Congrats to Steve, Gilles, and the Smithens! Fantastic!