Macari_05earlywine_2 November 17th has become a bit of a wine holiday in America. Every
year, the third Thursday in November means that Beaujolais Nouveau hits
wine shop shelves and, to many, this marks the beginning of the holiday

In reality, this “event” is much more hype than holiday. In fact, it
can be considered the Valentine’s Day of the wine world – an occasion
created largely by marketing and advertising. Beaujolais Nouveau is
made from Gamay grapes and is sold a few months after harvest, making
it the first red wine many of us taste from any given vintage. And
while 2005 was a particularly good year for Gamay in France, it’s not a
serious or complicated wine. Its flavors are simple and while it has
its place (it’s a great wine for turning white wine drinkers into red
ones) it really doesn’t deserve all the fanfare.

Long Island has its own super-fresh wine, but it’s not made from Gamay
grapes. In fact, it’s not even a red wine. This year Macari Vineyards
picked Chardonnay grapes on September 22, the wine made from the grapes
was bottled on November 2, and it was released on November 5. The
vineyard calls it “Early Wine” and it’s made in the style of young
whites in Austria. This makes sense because the wine’s maker, Helmut
Gangl, was born there.

The 2005 Early Wine ($13) shows off the exceptional ripeness of this
year’s fruit. With a barely perceptible fizz, its aromas include ripe
pear, apricot, lemon zest, honey and flowers. The warm, dry growing
season shows itself on the palate, however. While the 2004 was lean,
super-crisp and refreshing, this vintage is fuller bodied and slightly
sweeter. The flavors closely mirror the aromas with the addition of
delicious mineral qualities on the longer-than-expected finish, but
while somewhat fresh with playful acidity, the residual sugar is
apparent without the structure-providing acidity of last year’s
bottling. Still, this is an easy-to-drink wine that can be thought of
like an off-dry Riesling when pairing with food. Thai, Chinese and
Thanksgiving dinner will make good foils.

Completely on the other end of the Chardonnay spectrum is the recently
released Macari Vineyards 2002 Reserve Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
. Unlike the Early Wine, which was made completely in stainless
steel tanks, this richer, more manipulated wine was raised in new oak
barrels, giving it completely different character. The nose is
dominated by toasty oak aromas accented by butterscotch, roasted apples
and citrus. Despite its barrel origins, this isn’t a heavy-handed pour,
but the oak influence is obvious. With medium body and respectable
acidity it’s a far cry from your typical over-oaked flabby Chardonnay,
even if the flavors are a bit diluted until you reach the citrusy

Macari Vineyards’ latest red wine release, the 2003 Cabernet Franc
, is a rich medium garnet in the glass and attractively aromatic
with scents of black cherry, black plum, nutmeg and allspice. Soft and
delicate on the tongue, it delivers juicy cherry, plum and blackberry
flavors that evolve with time and are sprinkled with baking spices.
Cabernet Franc often plays second fiddle to Merlot on Long Island, but
in this case the second fiddle doesn’t mean second rate.

Macari also makes first-rate Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and one of the
Island’s best dessert wines – Block E. For more information about
Macari Vineyards or its wines, visit or call 298-0100.