Mcv_01esrescabsauvAs mentioned right here a couple weeks ago, the 2006 Long Island Wine Country Winter Festival is taking place throughout the month of February. And it should come as no surprise that Martha Clara Vineyards, they of the jam-packed event schedule, is taking part in a big way. Cooking classes, chocolate-making demonstrations and oyster shucking dot the calendar. But one event stands out.

On Friday, February 17, Martha Clara Vineyards is hosting a dinner and auction to benefit Healing the Children – Northeast for a medical mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, that will provide healthcare and surgery to the poor children of the region. Dinner will include authentic Ecuadorian fare, including locro, a potato soup made with cheese and avocado, chicken in peanut sauce, churrasco barbequed steak, shrimp ceviche, fried yucca, fried plantains and coconut cookies. For just $30 you get dinner, beer, wine and entrance to the auction, which includes items such as dinner for two at Tavern on the Green, tickets to a play in New York City, dinner for 10 at Martha Clara Vineyards, and many more prizes.

Reserve your seats by February 11 by calling 298-0075 ext. 22 or make donations to Healing the Children – Northeast by mailing them to P.O. Box 129, New Milford, CT 06776.

Arrive early and taste some of Martha Clara’s bottlings in their always-busy tasting room. Of their new and current releases, a few stand out and are certainly worth trying.

For $20, the Martha Clara Brut Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine, is
one of the best values in local bubbly. Its nose is crisp apples and
buttermilk biscuits. The palate is thirst-quenchingly refreshing, with
lean, fresh apple flavors and a slightly tart finish.

Martha Clara Vineyards’ 2002 Syrah ($20) is a pleasant example
of cool-weather Syrah and nothing like the fruit bomb, jammy Shiraz you
find down under. The nose is a bit shy at first but still complex, with
blackberries, pie spices and toasty-earthy back notes. Medium-bodied on
the palate, this is a prime wine for food because of its well-balanced
profile, which brings some fruitiness together with soft, round tannins
and spices that are sure to complement a wide array of cuisines. Syrah
is relatively rare on Long Island, so this wine is interesting just for
that fact. Drink in the next few years.

For a bigger, fruitier, more aromatic red, Martha Clara
Vineyards 2001 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
fits the bill.
Soon after pouring a glass, potent aromas of black raspberries and
blueberry pie invite the first sip, but wait a bit if you can – half
and hour or so – and you’ll be glad you did. At first the flavors are
full, though simple, but eventually develop into a delicious blend of
black raspberry, black cherry and cinnamon. Lightly gripping tannins
add a little structure and the finish is fairly lengthy. Drink now or
cellar for another five years or so.

Lastly, Martha Clara Vineyards 2004 Himmel ($31) is a
highly-recommended ice wine. Made with frozen Riesling and
Gewurztraminer grapes, it’s sweet, but surprisingly light in the mouth
with layered floral and fruit flavors and a hint of cotton candy and
burnt sugar. This one has some aging potential as well, but it is
succulent and luscious already.

For more information about Martha Clara wines and events, visit or call 631-298-0075.