Charles John Vineyards2003 Merlot
(North Fork of Long Island)
It seems like New York is welcoming new wineries into the family most every week, which just goes to show how successful the state's wine industry is and how many people want to live the "vineyard life."
Charles John Vineyards is one of Long Island's newest vineyards, having been planted in 1999. Named for owners Jackie and Matt Campbell's son (who was born the same year), their 17 acres are planted with traditional Bordeaux varietals -- merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
Matt, much like myself, has a "day job" in marketing for a major tech company. But wine is clearly much more fun, isn't it?
Their winemaker is Gilles Martin, the winemaker at Martha Clara Vineyards and a consulting winemaker at quite a few wineries, including a personal favorite Sherwood House Vineyards.
Because the vines were planted in 1999 and given the usual four years to mature, the Charles John Vineyard 2003 Merlot is their first release...and I was impressed with it's quality and "sense of place."
Eyes: Red-tinged crimson and slightly opaque.
Nose: This is a impressively fragrant wine, offering inviting aromas of sweet cherry, blackberry, toasty oak, vanilla and gentle earthiness.
Tongue: Perhaps the perfect wine as autumn takes hold. The flavors mimic the aromas and are joined by hints of cinnamon. Slightly dusty tannins are well integrated and provide a terrific backbone and mouthfeel. The finish is reasonably long as well.
Overall, this is an impressive first bottling given the age of the vines. It doesn't have great aging potential, but it's great today.
Reviewed October 5, 2005 by Lenn Thompson.
Lenn Thompson writes about New York wines for Dan's Papers,