Sunday, September 14, 2014

Martha Clara Shines With 6025 North Fork 2010 and Pinot Noir 2012

Earlier in the year, at the Governor's mansion, I had the great pleasure of tasting two Maratha Clara wines with the winemaker Juan E. Micieli-Martinez. I tasted two wines with him, and both were impressive.
In 1978, The Entenmann Family agree to sell their family company and move on to greener pastures. One of Martha Clara’s sons, Robert Entenmann, purchased a potato farm and transformed it into a thoroughbred horse farm on the North Fork of Long Island. Throughout the years he enjoyed his horses and the beauty of the area. However, he couldn’t help but notice the changing landscape all around him. The neighboring potato farms began to give way to vineyards; it was just a matter of time before he would follow suit.

In 1995, Robert caught the grape bug and planted 18 acres of vitis vinifera grapes. Over the next four years his vineyard acreage grew to over 100 acres as he anxiously waited for the grapes to come to age. Robert Entenmann, owner of Martha Clara Vineyards, named the venture after his mother, Martha Clara Entenmann.

Juan E. Micieli-Martinez is the winemaker. Born in Mexico and raised on the Eastern End of Long Island, Juan graduated from SUNY Binghamton in 1999 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Psychology. After leaving Binghamton he continued his education at Suffolk County Community College minoring in Horticulture. That same year he got a taste for the wine industry and started his journey as a tasting room employee at Pellegrini Vineyards. Juan quickly moved into the cellar and became a vintage intern where he assisted the wine making team at Pellegrini Vineyards in various aspects of production.

The following year staying within the realm of “all-things-fermented” Juan moved to the Southampton Publick House and became Assistant Brewmaster for the nationally recognized micro-brewpub. While he found the craft of making beer fascinating Juan could not shake his ‘oenophiliac tendencies’ so in 2001 he took a position with Premium Wine Group, a custom crush facility in Mattituck. While still at Premium, he headed to Australia and became a ‘Vintage Casual’ for Houghton Winery in Western Australia in 2002. Juan assisted in all aspects of Crush ’02 as he worked with premium fruit from the acclaimed Margaret River appellation.

Juan returned to Premium Wine Group in the summer of 2002, but this time as the production winemaker for Pellegrini Vineyards. Juan’s cellar experience grew and it paid off when he landed his first Head Winemaking position in 2006 with Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck. Juan proudly joined Martha Clara Vineyards in 2007 and since then his experience, enthusiasm, and attention to detail has brought us to a whole new level. 
First I tasted the estate grown Pinot Noir 2012. The wine is a light garnet color. Very pretty. Bright ripe cherry and some dark berries dominate the nose and palate. Lovely finish. Great long lasting fruit.
The other wine I tried was the Martha Clara Estate 6025 2010 Vintage. All grown on the North Fork of Long Island. The wine is made from 42% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. It's a classic Meritage. The wine has lovely, ripe cherry, blackberry, and cassis. Nice fruit lasts long across the palate and has very good, classic structure. Great tannins. This is a lovely wine, one you could drink now or cellar for some time. Really fantastic!

Great job to Juan and his staff!

Pazdar Aspen's Bite Grapefruit Wine (NY)

According to David Pazdar, Aspen, the family dog, may look like a cute little dog but she has quite a bite. And so the newest wine was named - Aspen's Bite.
What is Aspen's Bite - its a white wine made with grapefruit in it. It's got a wickedly fantastic nose of fresh squeezed grapefruit. And the taste is incredibly palate pleasing. It's a lovely white wine with a fantastic grapefruit flavor. And it has a nice touch of black pepper as well.
David has come up with some interesting wines in the past. He was the first to make a chocolate wine, and his line of pepper wines is one of the most popular at festivals throughout the state.
Despite my skepticism, this was a fantastic wine! Try it. It' really good! 


Mill River Winery (MA)

So Mill River Winery was a revelation. I found a few bottles in a liquor store when I went to visit my sister in Amherst, Massachusetts. The store had a decent selection of local wines, which was a nice surprise. I asked for some advice from the several people who were working, and all said the same thing  - try the Mill River wines. And so I did.
But who in the hell was Mill River Winery. I'd never heard of it. And so I did a little digging.
Rick & Donna’s story is about friendship, chemistry and hard work. Donna was (and remains) a Ph.D. chemist and Rick was an accomplished amateur wine maker. They did a year's worth of renovations at Dodge’s Cider Mill, and created a dedicated team of employees, and founded Mill River Winery.
Located on 3.3 acres of the picturesque North Shore of Massachusetts, they hope that their winery reflects the history and charm of this area that they call home. Apparently they opened in July 2011, with a mission of producing handcrafted wines using the finest grapes from Massachusetts and other notable wine regions.
Who knew?! Not me. Until

Mill River Winery’s Plantation red wine honors Rev. Ezekiel Rogers, who organized a company of twenty English families to sail to the New World on the “John of London”. In 1639, “Ezekiel Roger’s Plantation” was settled as the town of Rowley, MA. According to the owners, this wine celebrates the brave start of Colonial America. This is a lovely, dry, red blend, with ripe raspberry jam the come across the nose and on the palate. Hints of vanilla and spice. A nice, light touch of oak.

The Suisun Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area in Solano County, California, located just east of the Napa Valley wine region in the Coast Range. It was established as a wine appellation on December 27, 1982, making it the second oldest AVA in California (Napa Valley being the first).
Lots of dark fruit (black cherry, blackberries, cassis) with hints of oak and lots of tannin and spice. A beautiful wine.
Though I'm hoping we'll see more fruit from the north east sneak into the portfolio, what is there is lovely!