The tasting menu offers four different flights, as well as sangria and wines by the taste or glass; the adjoining huge performance space features an array of lunch and snack items as well as live music; the gift shop carries all sorts of wine-related gifts, the outside area includes farm animals one can feed: Yes, there seems to be something for everyone here. There are even a few quite nice wines. It’s no wonder the front parking lot at Martha Clara is so often full, with overflow crowds for special events sent to lots further back. What will happen to the winery if the Entenmann family is able to sell it, no one seems to know, but according to our server it is a profitable business. So it you have a spare 25 million hanging around…
We walked into the tasting room on a chilly drizzly day to be greeted by a multitude of holiday lights and decorations. We came with friends who are wine club members, so our tastings were free, but if you’re not they are still reasonable. The Barrique flight, all reds, gives you five tastes for $13, and so does the Aromatic Flight. The Off Dry (Sweet) is just $12 for your five tastes, and the Reserve, of their more expensive wines, is $15 for five. We opted for the Barrique and the Reserve. The pour is fairly generous. Our server gave us a minimum of information about each wine, but when asked did have more to offer. I will give you the Reserve Flight information first, then the Barrique.
- 2010 Estate Reserve Riesling $45
The server described it as semi-dry, but we found it rather sweet. The aroma is nice—floral and apricot—but then the taste is rather simple, without any complexity or layers, and mostly just sweet. It might be okay as an aperitif at a party. I wondered why they start their flight with such a sweet wine.
- 2012 Estate Reserve Chardonnay $26.99
My friend compared the taste of the chard to crème bruleé, as it features vanilla flavors—it is oak fermented—and a pleasant mouth feel. There’s even a bit of citrus at the end—perhaps lime. Quite nice.
- Cabernet Sauvignon $25.99
The Cab Sauv is a blend of the 2010 and 2011 vintages, and is included in both tastings, so I’ll just write about it once. It is, our server noted, the wine of the month. It’s not bad, with tastes of red plum or dried prune and some minerality, but overall, not exciting. My husband theorized that perhaps the winemaker is too tame, not making each wine distinct and different. There’s some sweetness and almost no tannins.
- 2010 Northville Red $23.99
Winner of the day! The Northville Red is their Bordeaux blend—78% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Malbec—and is also included in both flights. We all agree this is our favorite, and quite buyable. It smells a bit like forest floor, just a touch funky, but the taste is quite delicious, with lots of dark fruit. It would be yummy with lamb chops, for example.
- 2012 Estate Reserve Merlot $32.99
Unlike all the other wines today, this one has a cork. Our server explains, giving several good reasons, why Martha Clara is changing to all screw tops—ecologically better, wine keeps better, less spoilage, etc. We smell some of that barnyard terroir Long Island merlots can have, and maybe wet forest floor. The taste includes black cherries and some tannin, but my husband theorizes that perhaps the wine is not quite ready to be poured. “It’s not fair to the poor wine,” he says. Maybe given more time…?
- 2011 Pinot Noir $29.99
We admire the pretty garnet color of the pinot, scents of cherry and oak—maybe a touch too much oak. This is a pleasant wine, a bit light and thin, but would be okay with roast chicken or for sipping.
- 2011 Merlot $22.99
This is a new release, our server tells us. We are not excited. We smell oak and mineral, not much fruit, and the wine itself seems to have no body or depth. It is dry, and could definitely use more fruit.
- Cabernet Sauvignon (see above)
- 2010 Syrah $23.99
I often like syrahs, and this one is no exception. I smell pepper and black cherry, and taste lots of dark fruits. This wine is easy to drink, either just to sip or with food, and the price makes it quite buyable as well.
- 2010 Northville Red (see above)
Reasons to visit: you’re with a group and everyone wants something different; you need entertainment for yourself or some children; you need to pick up a wine-related gift; you want a spot of lunch with your wine; the 2010 Northville Red, the 2010 Syrah, the 2012 Estate Reserve Chardonnay.