Raphael: Beautiful Room December 7, 2019

https://www.raphaelwine.com/ 

IMG_7305

From the outside, the Raphael Winery looks like a villa in Tuscany, with its red-tiled roof and white walls, and the inside is similarly impressive.  From spring through fall, and then around Christmas, they are often closed for parties, as they have a big, beautiful facility.  At this time of year, they are decorated for Christmas, with lots of twinkling lights and greenery.  They also have a pretty nice selection of wine-related gifts.

As we walk up to the circular bar we are greeted by a gentleman who looks familiar.  Indeed, he turns out to be the same person who served us the last time we were there, back in February, 2018.  We have a nice visit with him, even as he works hard, serving several couples at the bar and a large group of women having a party at two long tables.

The menu offers five options:  four sweet wines for $16, four white estate wines for $16, four red estate wines for $16, four premium whites for $20, and four premium reds for $20.  Our server describes the premium wines as “heavier,” and when I ask what that means he clarifies that they are “more full-bodied.”  They are also pricier, but after some discussion with my tasting buddy we decide to go ahead and share the two premium flights.

There is a menu of snacks, which includes flat breads, and they don’t allow outside food. The pour is generous, and we end up opting not to finish several of the wines.  All four glasses of the flight are poured at once, so we could have taken them to a table, but we end up standing at the bar.

IMG_7312

  1.  2017 First Label Sauvignon Blanc     $39

This is primarily sauvignon blanc, with 10% semillon, steel fermented.  Served too cold, as is often the case.  It has a slight citrus aroma, and lots of lemon taste.  Also mineral.  It is rather tart, and we end up opting not to finish the glass.  Needs food, we decide.

IMG_7313

2.  2014 First Label Riesling     $39

Our server assures us that this is not a sweet riesling, and indeed, he is correct.  He also confides that at first he didn’t care for it, but now that it has aged a bit he likes it better.  We don’t.  The smell is a bit off-putting, with the chemical/gasoline aroma some rieslings have.  It is ultra dry, but not at all fruity to balance the dryness, and a bit of a metallic taste.  My husband says it is “monochromatic,” and I agree.  Again, we opt not to finish the glass.

3.  2012 White Primo Reserve    $39

This is doubly a blend, first of 31% sauvignon blanc, 20% semillon, and 49% riesling, and then aged 50/50 in steel and oak.  All that work leads to the white we like the best.  Though the aroma still has a trace of that gasoline smell, it also has a pleasantly funky note.  As we sip, we note that it combines lemon and butter (from the oak), and I wonder if it would be good to make a sauce for fish with lemon, butter, and a glug of this wine.  Could work.

4.  2016 Riesling Port     $40

Each of the premium flights ends with a port, in this case a white one with lots of the characteristics of the riesling, but balanced with sweetness.  It would be a fine after-dinner sipper.  However, we recently took inventory and realized that we have a number of after dinner sweet wines which we should probably try to use one of these days!

IMG_7314

5.  2014 Merliance     $72

Now we move on to the reds, which are once again lined up in front of us.  “Merliance” refers to a cooperative venture amongst East End wineries–in this case Raphael combined with Wölffer Estates and Macari–to make a blend of the best of their merlots.  As usual, it has aromas of cherries and oak, and cherry taste as well.  It is dry, with nice tannins, but a bit “thin” (says my tasting pal) for the price.

6.  2015 Cabernet Franc Reserve     $72

If not for the price, I might have considered getting a bottle of this, but it seems to me like a good burger wine.  It has pleasant forest floor, fruit, and spice aromas, and tastes like purple plums plus nutmeg.  Dry, slightly tannic, perhaps it needs to age a bit more.

IMG_7316

7.  2015 Primo Reserve     $72

This is their Bordeaux blend, of 58% merlot, 17% petit verdot, and 25% cabernet sauvignon, aged in oak.  It is good, but, observes my husband, “these prices are a joke.”  That may be a bit harsh, but they do seem out of line with the quality of the wines.  We have had the good fortune to taste high end Bordeaux, and this does not compete with them.  It has a fruity aroma, mostly cherry, and some tannins.  The taste is dry, with some fruit.  It might be nice with lamb.

8.  2014 Merlot Port     $45

Another dessert wine.  This smells strangely of olives, I say, and my husband agrees.  It is too thin to support the sweetness of the black raspberry taste, with a strangely sharp edge.

Reasons to visit:  beautiful room, and they have a pleasant outdoor patio for warm weather; a better than most gift shop;  the White Primo Reserve, the Riesling Port, and the Red Primo Reserve; they have good flatbreads (which we had last time we were there); knowledgable and friendly servers.

IMG_7321

We saw this sign of the season in the parking lot. Plenty of places to find Christmas trees on the North Fork!

Sherwood House September 29, 2012

Two of our tastes.

http://www.sherwoodhousevineyards.com/

It was a chilly rainy September Saturday, but the agritainment business was in full swing.  We passed up the Harbes Pumpkin Fest and stopped in at the Garden of Eve Garlic Fest (disappointing–no pickled garlic, only one booth making garlic braids, and lots of booths selling the same jewelry we saw at the Maritime Festival) before ending our outing at Sherwood House Winery, on the main road.  They have a little tasting shack in Mattituck, on Oregon Road, in the midst of their vineyard, but now they also have a very nice though small tasting room on Main Road in Jamesport.  They share their space with a shop called Material Objects, which sells various interestingly quirky household items.  Inside the room, there was a lovely fire in the fireplace, very welcome on this damp afternoon, and a group of people sitting around it in comfortable chairs, enjoying a tasting.  We stood at the bar, where we chatted a bit with wine club members doing a tasting and pick-up and other people.  A musician in the corner played quietly.

The tasting choices are the $8 Estate Flight of four wines, the $10 Premium Flight, also of four wines, or the $14 Owner’s Flight, of four of their highest quality wines.  We opted to share one Estate and one Premium.  A couple next to us got the Owner’s Flight, which began with a champagne-style sparkling wine, and the information from the well-informed and alert server that their winemaker is from the Champagne region of France.  Hmmm…maybe next time…

In the notes that follow, the even-numbered notes are from the Premium tasting, and the odd-numbered ones from the Estate one.

1.  2011 Unoaked Chardonnay         $18

Their only all-steel fermented chard, this pleasant wine has a lemony aroma and a nice, light, clean taste with a creamy finish.  It would make a lovely summer sipper, out on the deck, perhaps.  Good, and buyable.

2.  09 Chardonnay          $30

In contrast, this chard spent several months in oak, and has the usual, though faint, aroma of vanilla and wood.  We taste unripe pear, with some grapefruit, but an unpleasantly sweet finish that we don’t care for.

3.  2011 Bouquet Rose          $18

Screwtop!  The server informs us that this is not their own wine, but is made from their grapes by another wine maker, and is in the tasting because they have sold out of their own rose.  Made from cabernet franc grapes, this reminds us of cherry Kool-Aid!  Dumpable.  Light and sweet, if that’s what you like.

4.  05 Merlot          $34

This one is good with chocolate, says the server, and we agree (Though we would like to have the chance to try it WITH chocolate, none is on offer…).  The aroma is dark cherry, with some oak, and the taste is moderately dry, with a faint hint of the earthy terroir, but otherwise nicely fruity.  This merlot spends 18 months in oak, and is a lovely wine, and would be good with pork chops or turkey (starting to think about Thanksgiving).

5.  04 Oregon Road Merlot          $16

This is our favorite of the day, and we buy two bottles to have with barbequed ribs tonight.  Not a lot of aroma, but lovely fruit tastes with a slight hint of smoke.  13 months in oak, we are told.

6.  06 Merlot          $25

This one spends 18 months in oak, and is also very good.  The aroma is of black raspberry, and though it is dry there is plenty of plum and raspberry flavor, with a bit of oak and a slight touch of smoke.

7.  04 Merlot          $20

The 04 also spent 18 months in oak, and it is interesting that Sherwood House tends to hold onto their reds for several years before release.  Again, aromas of berry and oak, with some sweetness and a light taste.  Pleasant, but not exciting, and while we would not refuse to drink it we have no inclination to buy it.

8.  08 Merliance          $40

Merliance is a blend–what Lewis Carroll would call a “portmanteau word”–of Merlot and alliance, and is made from grapes grown by Castello Borghese, Clovis Point, McCall’s, Pellegrini, Sherwood House and Wolffer Estates, each of which contributes two barrels of wine to the mixture.  Though not worth the price, it is a nice wine, with a flowery aroma and nice legs.  The proceeds from the sale of this wine benefit various events and research sponsored by the alliance.

 

Reasons to visit:  Really nice reds, a cozy tasting room with a fireplace for cold days, the chance to browse an interesting household goods store.  Buyable:  Unoaked Chardonnay and Oregon Road Merlot and 05 Merlot.