2002_palaterra_1I drink a lot of New York wine, particularly from Long Island. It’s right in my own back yard and over the past few months I’ve developed some nice relationships with some of the GMs and winemakers in the region. I think it’s always fun to drink a wine when you know the people behind the scenes.

But, there are some varietals that just don’t do well (or as well) here…and to expand my wine knowledge (a continuous process I expect to last the rest of my life), I’ve decided it’ time to look west to California more often (and east to Europe as well…but that’s for another day!)

A few weeks ago, Spencer Roloson Winery sent me some samples after meeting fellow wine blogger Alder (of Vinography fame) and asking him for the names of some other up-and-coming wine types in cyberspace.

Originally, I had wanted to have a few people over to taste each of the wines, side-by-side, to get an overall feel (taste?) for SR’s winemaking style. But, I quickly reminded myself that I don’t have such a set of friends…so it’s up to Nena and I.

Last night, we opened the first of the batch, their 2002 Palaterra Red Table Wine. It’s a blend of 33% Carignane, 33% Syrah and 33% Valdigue. Carignane and Valdigue aren’t grown here on Long Island I don’t think and most of the Syrah I’ve had here tends to taste unripe…and probably only gets made because it’s a hot-selling varietal these days.

Back to the Palaterra. The Carignane and Valdigue vines that produced fruit for this blend are 65 and 50 years old respectively…another characteristic I just can’t find on Long Island…the region is only 30 or so years old! All the vines are grown in cobbly soils and dry farmed. The yields are low, chich produces intensely concentrated and colorful fruit.

Brix at harvest was much higher (24.5 – 26) than what’s typical on Long Island (22 – 23). That’s mostly a result of our shorter growing season.

So…on to my tasting notes…

Eyes: Dark, inky purple with magenta at the edges. Looks rich and full.

Nose: At first I didn’t get much, but with a little glass time, there was quite a bit of dark fruit (plum, black currant, blackberry) with faint hints of spice (white pepper?) and a little sweet vanilla too.

Tongue: Rich and a little rustic, it’s juicy with more black currant and blackberry…but with just the right tannic grip for my tastes. It has nicely balanced acidity and a little spiciness on the finish. Not the most complex or interesting wine I’ve had, but far from plonk. It’s a well-made Rhone-style blend.

Price: $16

Food: This would go very well with anything slightly charred on the grill.

Overall: I liked it and would drink it again. In fact, I still have a glass or two in the botte (Nena has a cold and can’t taste ANYTHING so she didn’t partake much) that I plan to have when I get home tonight. I’m curious to see how/if it’s changed.

It definitely has me looking forward to the rest of the Spencer Roloson wines.

Drink now or over the next year or two…maybe some of the rustic character will mellow.