Sitting on the deck overlooking the vineyards - a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon
I had intended to get this posted yesterday but, as usual, life intervened. Given my track record of late, though, 24 hours delay is rather timely…
I spent a lovely hour with Joe Sharry and six of his wines that beautiful Saturday afternoon. I had my choice of five of the 10 main wines, and then for an additional $2 each could add either of the limited production wines to my tasting. After careful perusal of the menu, I opted for 2 whites and 3 reds and Tom encouraged me to also try the red Cuvee, a suggestion I found impossible to resist.
My first selection was the Shelter Harbor Chardonnay. Pale gold color with a soft, lightly citrus nose. In the mouth, the wine is dry and buttery with soft tannins on the finish. The predominant note was grapefruit, but it was light and subtle. Served chilled, the wine is crisp and refreshing and would work well with seafood, grilled vegetable dishes, or on its own. A very nice wine.
My next choice was the Winnapaug White Merlot. I discovered white merlots a few years ago, and have become a real fan, generally preferring them to their red counterpart. I like the heartier character of the white merlot (as compared to Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc) and the often earthy character I find in them. I also don’t see a lot of them, at least not among local vintners, and so always make a point of trying them when I do. Langworthy Farm’s White Merlot didn’t wow me, but it also didn’t disappoint. It’s a pleasant wine, peachy in color with a pretty, slightly floral nose. In the mouth, however, the wine is more earthy with notes of grass and green pepper, and there’s a slight bitterness on the end that might soften with aging or perhaps more breathing time. The most interesting thing I found about the wine is that there were no dominant notes throughout – I found myself having to search for the individual notes. That’s not to say it had no flavor, just that no one note shone through.
With that I rinsed my glass and turned to the reds, bypassing Langworthy Farm’s two Merlots and heading straight to the Charlestown Cabernet Franc. Aged for 14 months in a combination of French and American oak, the result was one of my favorite of all the wines I tasted that morning. A lovely purple color with a soft nose with rich notes of cherry, the wine has is dry and earthy, with light notes of pepper and cherry and tobacco on the finish. In addition to the tobacco notes, the oak provides a light smokiness which I found very interesting. The Charlestown Cab Franc recently won a medal in the Finger Lakes Regional Wine Competition.
I know many people who aren’t fans of Cabernet Franc, finding the grape and the wines, pale imitators of their more robust Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir cousins. I, as regular readers of Vino Verve will attest, have become a big fan. Particularly here in the Northeast, the grapes seem to grow very well and produce some really nice, robust reds. Not as “big” as a California or European Cabernet Sauvignon, but strong enough to stand up to hearty foods and cold winter evenings. Langworthy Farm’s Cabernet Franc definitely made it into my collection of Cabernet Francs.
After the Cabernet Franc, I moved on to the Napatree Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for more than 12 months in French oak, the Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the better of it’s kind I’ve found among southern New England wineries. Like other local wineries, Langworthy Farms brings in their grapes from Long Island; I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that ours is not a climate conducive to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is a lovely garnet color with a rich plummy nose. I really loved the nose on this wine. In the mouth the wine is very smooth; I was a bit surprised at how smooth, as so many of the “bigger” reds I’ve tried here in the northeast have felt “young.” The wine is lush and rich with strong earthy, grassy notes and notes of leather and smoke from the oak. I also detected light notes of blackberry which contributed to the overall richness of the wine. Very nice wine, and one of the better Cabernet Sauvignon’s I’ve had here in Southern New England.
I finished up the main tasting with the Pawcatuck River Red, a stainless-steel fermented blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Not a bad wine, and people who like slightly sweeter, lighter wines should really enjoy this. But I found it almost too clean, particularly coming after the Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon. I missed the smokiness and the earthiness I found in the other two wines. Garnet colored, with a fruity nose, the Pawcatuck River Red is a fruitier wine with strong notes of cherry and blackberry. The tasting notes indicate this would be great with pasta and salads, and for a lighter summer red it’s not bad. However, compared to the other two I found it to be not as complex and interesting. Perhaps if I had tasted that one first before either the Cab Franc or the Cab Sauvignon, I would have been more impressed. Still, despite my preference for the other wines, it’s a nice overall table wine, and I think more people will prefer this one to the Cabernet Franc.
Because I was the only guest that morning, I was able to chat with Joe throughout the tasting, learning about the history of the winery, the house/bed & breakfast, and the surrounding area. Because I usually can only hit the wine trail on the weekends, it’s not often that I have the luxury of having the winemaker all to myself. So at the end of the tasting, when Joe suggested I try to the Ward 3 Cuvee, his limited production red, I certainly wasn’t going to turn him down.
The Cuvee is a Bordeaux-blend of the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was fascinating to taste this immediately after the Pawcatuck River Red, a blend of the same grapes. Darker in color, more of a dark garnet, with a strong earthy nose, this is a lovely wine. Both rich and subtle the flavors and notes of the wine blend together beautifully. The predominant notes are earthy, almost loamy. I detected notes of tobacco and leather, and the finish brings forth notes of warm spice, cumin among others. There are also very soft, subtle fruit notes that provide a depth and richness that opens up the earthiness beautifully. I also found the wine built over time – each subsequent taste layering on the previous one. A very impressive wine.
That concluded my tasting for the morning. There are an additional five wines, 3 whites and 2 reds, on the main tasting menu and a limited production Reserve Chardonnay that I did not have the opportunity to try. However, there is at least one winery in Southeastern Connecticut still on my list, so I think a return trip to Langworthy Farms to try the rest of the menu will be on the schedule soon.