From my very first of their richly Burgundian 2001 Chardonnay last summer, I’ve been a Sherwood House Vineyards enthusiast. Owners Charles and Barbara Smithen, along with winemaker Gilles Martin (of Martha Clara Vineyards), share a devotion to graceful, Old World-style wines that really comes through in the bottle.

Next week, Sherwood House Vineyards’ cozy little tasting room will re-open for 2006 and to celebrate, they are releasing three new wines — two from the 2002 vintage and one from 2003. The differences between the 2001 and 2002 growing seasons (2001 was hotter) are apparent, but these 2002 wines are no less charming.

Starting with the 2002 wines, the Sherwood House 2002 Chardonnay ($20) is a striking light gold in the glass. The nose seems less intense than the 2001 but features similar aromas — pear, sweet toasty oak and citrus hints. Medium-full bodied, the texture is somewhat creamy with nicely balanced flavors of pear, toasty marshmallows and oak nuance. I would have liked perhaps a touch more acidity, but this is an extremely stylish Chardonnay that certainly carries on Sherwood House’s white Burgundy tradition. Lobster seems the ideal accompaniment.

Sherwood House Vineyards 2002 Merlot ($24)
shows a similar, vintage-related dip in ripeness and concentration, but delivers an enchanting mélange of raspberry, cherry and wet stone on the nose — with nearly identical flavors carrying over in the mouth. This wine is medium bodied, features sultry, super-fine tannins that that give way to a vanilla inflected finish. Winemaker Martin didn’t overdo the oak — an excellent choice. His restraint is the key to this wine’s length and overall quality. Pour this wine along side roast turkey or pork dishes.

Stylistically, Long Island Cabernet Franc is all over the map, with seemingly every winery having its own interpretation or style. Some are light and fruity, some are spicier, some are hefty and brooding. Sherwood House Vineyards 2003 ($24), their first Cabernet Franc release, is decidedly less fruity than most local renditions. While a little less aromatic than some Cabernet Franc, its nose presents plums and smoke with a touch of fresh herbs in the mix. Medium-to-light bodied, plum flavors are accented by smoky oak influence and black pepper notes. Though perhaps a little pricey for your next barbeque, this red is a nice pairing to grilled meats.

Sherwood House Vineyard’s tasting room is located north of Route 48 on Elijah’s Lane, and will open April 15. Keep an eye out for Rufus and Raven the Smithen’s vineyard dogs.
For more information on Sherwood House Vineyards, visit or call 298-2157.