Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lenz White Label Chardonnay 2003 - Maturity Never Tasted So Good (NY)


Lenz is always one of my favorite wine producers. I have always loved pouring Lenz when I am with the biggest of food and wine snobs - because it never fails to impress. Recently, with a group of foodies, it came through with flying colors again! And in a most impressive fashion.

I love experimenting with wines, leaving them in the cellar for a long while, especially east coast ones, to see if their quality stands the test of time. I think it's an important part of a region's coming of age if their wines cellar well. I won't lie - sometimes I just forget I even had the damned bottle. I'm not as exacting as all that. I wish I were.

Lenz is a relatively small winery, on the North Fork of Long Island, making wines to exacting standards. All of their wines are estate bottled, meaning they are made from grapes grown entirely in their own vineyards.

So, at this party we had, I put out a bottle of Lenz White Label Chardonnay 2003. Several people in the crowd, foodies mind you, asked with incredulity if I thought a ten year old bottle of white Long Island wine would be any good. It was just the kind of reaction I had wanted!

The white label program at Lenz are their series of everyday wines. Lenz White Label Chardonnay is cold-fermented Chardonnay. It's meant to be a nice, Chardonnay, more stainless-steel than not, but with a nice touch of oak. But when I opened the bottle I knew we were in for a treat. Big whiffs of apple and pear came wafting out of the glass. Dried apple notes as well And still some tropical notes and citrus and some small, small note of vanilla.  But ripe, Bosc pear was solid and up front. And still, the minerality was there. It was gorgeous. It was luxurious. It was amazing! So impressive!

I uncorked the bottle and walked around pouring the wine for anyone who had an empty glass. I didn't say it was local, but my friends know who I am when it comes to local. Suffice to say, instantly people wanted to know if it was French. I shook my head. California? Again, I shook my head. Long Island.

But is cant be! Long Island?! But then I told them that it was a 10 year old chardonnay and their eyes widened. People asked why I even bothered to keep whites around for 10 years. I just nodded to the glass.


Lenz's winemaker Eric Fry has been one of the best and most consistent winemakers on the East Coast for several decades now. And his wines continue to impress. The maturity of this older white was yet another example of his technical skills as well as his finesse. A master at work!