Friday, February 03, 2017

Sherwood House & Hound's Tree on the North Fork - East Coast Meets West Coast Marriage Made in Heaven (NY)


Sherwood House has always been among my favorite producers. Giles Martin has always created classic French styled wines there thought I could serve to the most persnickety and picky of dinner partners, and always impress. Their chardonnays have been among by favorite for the last 15 years or more. And I've had several of  these chardonnays that were seven to ten years old which have held up quite marvelously!!


Dr. Charles and Barbara Smithen founded the winery 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, but after careful research and planning, have since added Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. 

Gilles Martin, who learned his trade in France, 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. 


(Photo from Northforker)

Last year, Alex Rosanelli and his uncle Alfredo Apolloniof Apolloni Vineyards of Oregon’s Willamette Valley purchased Sherwood House’s vineyard from founder Barbara Smithen following the death of her husband, Dr. Charles Smithen. The $1,835,000 purchase included an 1860 farmhouse and 36-acre vineyard in Mattituck, but not the Sherwood House brand itself.


Barbara Smithen and Giles Martin will remain making wine under the Sherwood House label. They will buy grapes from the Apollonis and continue to produce their classic wines. The Apollonis will make wine under the new Hound's Tree label. Both labels will be sold at Sherwood House’s tasting room in Jamesport. 

“They’ve definitely breathed new life into Sherwood House. The vibe is different; everybody sees that we’re turning a corner,” Kristen Hand, general manager at Sherwood House Vineyards told the Northforker recently. “Our wine club members, who’ve been so loyal to Sherwood House and the brand for such a long time, have wholeheartedly embraced Hound’s Tree.”

Very exciting to see these men on Long Island and see what they will do here!!!!! Always great to see people from other winemaking regions and traditions bring a fresh new eye to the North Fork.



Sherwood House Oregon Road Chardonnay 2014 is an un-oaked, stainless-steel chardonnay. This is a bright, light dry chardonnay, chock a block with green apple and ripe pear, with notes of citrus and tangerine. A lovely, light chardonnay!


Sherwood House Vineyards Chardonnay 2103. This is one of my top five favorite chardonnays on the entire East Coast, and one of my top ten chardonnays around the world. This is a classic Burgundy-styled chardonnay, barrel aged in French oak.. This is indeed a splendid wine, with ripe Green and Red apple and Bosc pear, layered with tropical fruit, minerality, and a lovely, vanilla ending. This cries out for classic French dishes, roast chicken and fresh Long Island shellfish! This is the kind of white that can be drunk now or laid down for five years. I have had 10 year old versions of this wine that were still superb. Love this wine! Still a classic chardonnay made skillfully and beautifully.


Hound's Tree Chardonnay 2015 was sourced entirely from their South Block of French, Dijon 95, clones. This is a wine geek's kind of chardonnay. It is an unoaked, stainless steel chardonnay that has not undergone malolactic fermentation. Harvested by hand, destemmed & pressed, and fermented cool with indigenous yeast. It's a lean, minerally white wine, with Fuji apples, bright , fresh cut pear, sprinkled with pineapple and tangerine and a hint of ginger. Bright and fresh and zesty!



Sherwood House Vineyards White Merlot 2015 is the vineyard's entry into the popular rose' wave that continues to sweep Long Island wine. This wine is 100% Merlot. The grapes are whole cluster pressed to minimize the color extraction from the skin and insure a fresh, fruity, lively wine. A big nose of strawberries and blueberries is complimented by hints of peach and apricot, which come through as promised. A big, pop of citrus finishes the wine beautifully. Light, crisp, and bright, a easy to drink wine!




Hound's Tree Cabernet Franc 2015 is 100% estate Cabernet Franc, North block of French (Bordeaux) Clone 332. The grapes were harvested by hand on October 18th, and small batch fermented, according to the winery in a mix of stainless steel and open bins. The wine was aged 12 month before release. Raspberry, cherry, red cassis, and blackberry lead of the wine, with layers of earth and gravel, tobacco, mocha, a hint of burnt caramel, and vanilla.  This wine is lovely and intriguing. Easily will age another four to five years, but is readily drink able now. Great for entertaining with meals and friends


Hound's Tree Merlot 2015 is an estate wine, produced entirely from their North and South blocks of Davis Clone 6. Harvested by hand on October 18th, the fruit was small batch fermented, and aged for 12 months in medium and medium plus toast French Oak. A big nose of ripe blackberry, plum, and cassis with hints of earthiness and hints of dark chocolate baking powder and vanilla. This is an elegant, juicy red wine that begs for roasted meats, especially a big, grilled pork chop!!!! A lovely, lovely wine that should age incredibly well!!!



Sherwood House Vineyards Merlot 2012 is a classic Bordeaux-inspired, medium-bodied merlot is deep garnet in color and aged for 18 months in French oak..There is ripe Bing cherry and layers black cherry and dark raspberry, with notes of micha, tobacco, and vanilla. The fruit up front is slowly complimented with dissolves into a lovely, lovely mouthfeel, Smooth and impressive, a lovely, lovely merlot that will age incredibly well! I've had this wine aged 10 years in my cellar, and it was fantastic. Another classic wine by Giles!


Sherwood House Vineyards Sherwood Manor 2010 is a Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot. This is a big, Bordeaux-styled blend. A big nose of black cherry, raspberry, and cassis are complimented with truffle, pepper, and hints of tobacco and vanilla. A big, deep wine with incredible layers. A big, earthy wine that is meant to impress! And impress it does. Drink now or lay down for another five to seven years. Fantastic!!!!


I wasn't sure what to expect from my tasting, knowing my love of Sherwood House. Al things must change, and the east coast wine world should expect a generation of winemakers to hand over the regns to another group waiting in the wings to make their mark on winemaking on THIS coast. This was an excellent contrast in styles: Classic old world Sherwood versus the newer west coast, new world style of Hound's Tree on the other. One can only hope, after my tasting, that all the east coast wineries are as fortunate as Barbara Smithen and the denizens of Sherwood House were, as this new marriage seems to be a perfect transition from one group to another. A great experience, and a super tasting! To all involved, Barbara, Giles, Alex and Alfredo, I say, "Bouna fortuna!"


The new art gallery off to the side is a lovely addition to the winery. Very well worth a look. Some super, super art!