Jerram Winery 1.1.11 ~ The Reds

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

My New Year’s Resolution should have been “don’t procrastinate on filing your Vino Verve posts!”   Although given that it’s not even the end of January and I’m already behind, at least I don’t now feel the guilt of having resoundingly failed at my resolution before the year truly got underway.

So, to catch us up ~ I kicked off the New Year on the Litchfield Winter Wine Trail; first stop Jerram Winery in New Hartford, Connecticut.  Having sampled the available whites, next up were the reds, which I was particularly looking forward to.  My first visit to Jerram was fairly early into my Connecticut Wine Trail adventures.  Jerram was one of the first wineries at which I tried a Marechal Foch wine (as opposed to encountering Marechal Foch as a blending grape), and the Highland Reserve, a Cabernet Franc/Marechal Foch blend was one of my favorites of that visit.  Not having been back in almost two years, I was looking forward to the new vintages.

Before either the Highland Reserve or the Marechal Foch, however, the first red presented was Sil Vous Plait, a 100% Cabernet Franc.  The nose has bright notes of cherry and that flinty, salt-tanginess of the Northeastern Reds.  Medium-bodied, the wine is slightly tart with cherry notes on the front and a lightly smoky finish.  The mouth-feel is soft, and there’s a slight bite towards the back of the tongue that makes the wine feel a bit young.  With Connecticut Cabernet Francs, I’ve found cellaring them for six to nine months and then letting them breathe a bit really mellows them and makes for a much richer wine.

Next up was the Highland Reserve, the Marechal Foch/Cabernet Franc blend.   The nose is softer and more subtle than the Sil Vous Plait, although the cherry notes are still the predominant note.  In the mouth the wine is lightly sweet and fruit forward with bright notes of cherry, which carry through from the front to the back of the tongue.  There are light notes of smoke and leather on the finish, enough to provide a nice balance but not so much that they overwhelm the wine.  Overall a lovely wine.

And last, and certainly not least, my favorite the Marechal Foch. The nose is earthy with notes of grass; a definite surprise after the more strongly cherry noses of the first two wines.  Medium-bodied, in the mouth the wine, like the Highland Reserve, is fruit-forward with notes of cherry, but there are earthy notes as well which keep the wine from the sweeter notes found in the Highland Reserve.  The tanginess and “bite” that is a characteristic of the Marechal Foch grape (or to be more precise the Marechal Foch wines I’ve encountered) is present but not distracting.  The wine is quite smooth and feels more robust and mature than other Marechal Foch wines I’ve tasted.

If anything could be considered Jerram’s “signature” wine, it would be the Marechal Foch.  These are the first vines Jim Jerram planted when he established the vineyards in 1982, and the first wine he produced in 1986.  Over the years he’s expanded to other grapes and wines, but the Marechal Foch maintains a place of prominence in the Jerram Winery lineup.

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