Castello di Borghese: Oldie but Goodie July 30, 2016
“Yes,” our server said, “these grapes come from our 43-year-old vines.” In North Fork terms, that’s ancient history, and since the older the vines supposedly the better the wines, we were quite interested in the Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc. The Hargraves were the first to see the potential of grape vines on the North Fork, (then the Borghese family bought their vineyard) and wow, did they ever start something. But in the wine business there is no resting on one’s laurels (or vines), so let’s see how they are doing today.
The pleasant tasting room, with several areas, including a very large room which I would assume is mostly used for parties and such, offers two menus, of Estate and Reserve wines. You can taste four of the Estate wines for $10 or five of any of their wines for $15. Since there are quite a few choices on both menus, including reds, whites, rosés, and dessert wines, it took us a while to choose. In fact, we could easily go back and do a completely different tasting in the near future. We finally settled on one 5-sample tasting, of two whites and three reds. Our server, though at first somewhat tentative about recommendations, began to give us some helpful guidance as we progressed.
Another neat feature of the tasting room is their ever-changing display of art works. They have a small selection of snacks for sale, but you can bring your own picnic and settle in at the outside tables. Glasses of wine go for $9-12, depending on which you choose.
- Chardonette/CDB White $12
Since we are always on the lookout for inexpensive whites for weekday meals, especially in the summer, we decided this would be a good place to start. We were right. A mixture of mostly chardonnay with some sauvignon blanc, this is a perfect light summery white, with aromas of herbs and minerals and a crisp taste with some acidity. This is steel fermented, so don’t expect any buttery-ness. The menu suggests matching it with hummus or “smoked beef tartare,” whatever that is. I think it would be a nice aperitif, well iced, with some charcuterie and cheese, on the porch, in the summer. We buy two bottles.
- 2013 Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc $29
What a contrast! The Chardonette is a very non-serious white, while this one is quite serious. Complex, with aromas of butter and honeysuckle, this is a combination of oaked and un-oaked sauvignon blanc, with the oaked portion spending two months in new French oak. There’s a touch of citrus at the end, plus interesting layers of flavor, including gooseberry (which, now that I bought some at Briermere a few weeks ago, my husband agrees it tastes like).
- 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve $50
The menu said 2013 Pinot Noir, but they were sold out of that, and after we discussed that change with our server he confessed that this was his favorite of their wines. He does have expensive taste! He brought us a new glass for the changeover to red. “Mmmm,” said my husband. Anything more enlightening to say, I asked? We smell some cherry candy, taste dark fruits such as plums, plus nice tannins, and perhaps a trace of nutmeg. This is a Burgundy, so we decide it would go well with Boeuf Bourguignon. Making that according to Julia Child’s recipe is an all-day affair, so I guess if I put that much work into a dish it would warrant a bottle of this wine.
- 2013 Merlot Reserve $33
Our server informs us that this spends 14 months in French oak, which probably accounts for the trace of smoke we smell. We also get plum and black cherry. The wine is dry, with lots of tannins and good fruit, so it would be a good counterpoint to a fatty meat such as lamb. My husband observes that it is very well balanced, with a good finish. “Yum,” I add.
- 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44
As we discuss which wine to have to end our tasting, our server volunteers that this one is quite interesting, so we go with it. He’s right (again). We sniff and get fruit and a trace of tobacco, then sip and decide the taste is rich. We taste dark cherries with a trace of smoke at the end, but not overwhelming, plus good tannins. They suggest pairing with game, and I could see it with venison steaks.
Reasons to go: A nice calm tasting room plus picnic tables outside; the Chardonette, the Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir Reserve; art on the walls.