(This column originally appeared in the December 10th issue of Dan’s Papers)

Mac1 Macari Vineyards, located on Sound Avenue in Mattituck, has always been one of my favorite destinations for East End wine tasting. Its modern, elegant tasting room and spectacular vineyard views are almost as welcoming at the people who pour the wines. With tasty wines that are organized into ever-changing flights, I’ve never had a bad experience at Macari – from the people or the wines.

Despite becoming increasingly well known for its high-end reds, including Bergen Road 2001 ($40) and Alexandra 2000 ($75), as well as its Rose ($12, voted Dan’s Papers’ “Best of the Best” Rose), Macari has two new, deliciously charming (and affordable) whites worthy of any wine drinker’s attention, as well as an upcoming Merlot release to keep an eye on down the road.

Lauded in the November 21 issue of the New York Times, Macari’s 2004 Early Wine ($13) is a tantalizingly unique white that I challenge anyone not to fall in love with. Made from 100 percent Chardonnay grapes that were picked September 20, it was bottled October 16 and released October 29. Nearly colorless and just perceptibly fizzy, this dry wine floods the palate with bright citrus fruit and crisp apple. Lush and extremely food friendly, I poured it with Thanksgiving dinner and it was a big hit among wine lovers and novices alike. This is truly one of the freshest wines around, both in terms of age and taste. Available now in Macari’s tasting room, try it with most any meal that doesn’t include a slab of red meat. Buy a case. Drink it yourself or give it as holiday gifts. You won’t be disappointed.

The 2003 Estate Chardonnay ($12) is a well-made, citrus-driven Chardonnay with excellent balance and grace. Clean and a little minerally, with just the most subtle hints of creamy toastiness, this is an affordable example of what I consider Long Island-style Chardonnay. Serve it before dinner, with most any seafood or with lemon pepper chicken. It’s scheduled to be released in mid-December.

Macari’s 2002 Estate Merlot ($15), also expected to hit shelves pre-Christmas, isn’t nearly as refined or ready. Young tasting and still slightly astringent out of the bottle, its tannins did mellow some with decanting, but they still overshadowed much of the wine’s fruit. The 2001 vintage was a great buy at the same price, so “upon further review” this vintage could be a winner as well. I’ll let you know when I try it again in a couple months.

For more information or to purchase Macari wines, call 298-0100 or visit www.macariwines.com