Vin48_05merlotVineyard 48 (formerly Bidwell Vineyards) might be a winery on the rise. In general, I’ve found their white wines to be their best, particularly the sauvignon blanc and riesling, which are actually better than some local bottlings priced much higher. But, the reds have been somewhat more inconsistent. A nice cabernet franc here. A soft, but integrated meritage there. And some others with somewhat coarse tannins.

2005, a soon-to-be-class vintage, provided an opportunity for complete grape ripeness and winemaker Matthew Berenz, formerly of Pindar, took full advantage. He’s made the neophyte winery’s best reds yet.

The Vineyard 48 2005 Vignetta ($32) is a meritage-style blend made with 44% cabernet franc, 32% merlot and 24% cabernet sauvignon and is a lightly opaque, medium crimson in the glass. The nose is an alluring melange of red cherries, raspberries, fresh sage and muddled mint leaves. Medium weight on the palate, there is a nice integration of ripe fruit, oak influence and tannins. Cherry is the predominant fruit flavor here, with herbs, a little earthiness, black pepper and a faint mint finish that lingers just a bit. This is by far the most ready to drink today of the current red releases.

Probably a little young to really enjoy now is Vineyard 48’s 2005
Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
. A deep, well-extracted violet, this one is a
little lacking on the nose, offering only austere dark berry and plum
fruit aromas. Fuller bodied than its blended brother, the tannins are a
little astringent and–despite ripe berry flavors and some earth–a bit
disjointed overall. It seems almost like Berenz is aiming for a
California cab here, but falling a little short. There is potential
here, but it’s hard to know now if that potential will be realized.
Come back to this wine in another year or two to see.

Merlot rules the North Fork, right? Well Vineyard 48 just released one
of those too, a 2005 Merlot ($36). This deeply extracted red features a
ripe, rich nose with cherries, tobacco and a little spice. Super-ripe,
almost sweet, fruit flavors of red berry, cherry and red currant. A
little spice brings interest to this plump wine that is even a little
juicy. Drinking pretty well now, I’m excited to try this one again in the future.

The prices might be a little out of line, but I’ll reserve judgment for now.