WolffermerlotIn my rarely-humble opinion, Roman Roth of Wolffer Estates is one of the top one or two winemakers in New York State. I hesitate to annoint anyone "the best" because there are many talented winemakers, but he’s right there with anyone else.

His wines, from his crisp, refreshing Rose to his everyday Le Ferme Martin wines to the uber-pricey Premier Cru Merlot, always offer supreme richness, grace and quality.

The German-born Roth has worked in Carneros, California, in Australia (for Rosemount Estate) and, in 1992…he joined Wolffer Estates in its infancy. He is also the winemaker at some of the other, smaller producers in the region. In fact, more than once I’ve tasted a wine I’ve loved only to find out later that he was the winemaker.

Nena and I opened this bottle (the latest Wolffer Wine Club shipment) on Christmas afternoon with my family in Pittsburgh as we opened gifts.

Eyes: In the glass, this charmingly elegant wine is a deep, dark brick color with a purple cast to it.

Nose: The nose is dominated by blackberries with hints of pipe tobacco.

Tongue: Full-bodied and stunningly rich, it offers full but smooth tannins that are beautifully integrated. Blackberries persist on the palate, joined by notes of cedar, tobacco and faint minerals.

Food: It’s the perfect match for hunks of meat…beef, lamb or venison.

Price: $35

Overall: A huge hit with my family, the other wines we tasted the rest of the day paled by comparison. My favorite pour of the holiday season…hands down.

If the interstate wine shipping ban is lifted this spring…you want to get on Wolffer’s mailing list.