Windham_3redkingsBy Lenn Thompson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

When most New Yorkers hear "Windham" they think about the popular ski slopes there. But James Bateman, owner, vineyard manager and winemaker at Windham Vineyards, is growing grapes and making wine there instead. 

Of course, with those ski slopes, its no surprise that Bateman, an Englishman, presides over the highest elevation vineyards in the east — at 2000 and 2200 feet above sea level. 

I've tasted and reviewed two wines made with estate-grown grapes, his St. Pepin and Frontenac Gris. Both showed potential and were interesting explorations for me because I'd never tasted those hybrids before.

Bateman didn't grow the merlot (40%), cabernet sauvignon (32%) and cabernet franc (28%) that went into his Windham Vineyards 2005/2006 The Three Red Kings ($20), instead sourcing them them from Long Island. But, after 18 months in French and American oak, the resulting wine is the best Windham wine I've tasted so far.

Black cherries, plums and smokey American oak dominate the nose with subtle dried herb and cocoa powder aromas beneath.

Medium bodied, smoky, bacon-y flavors lead the way with more cherries and plums on the palate. Those herbal, maybe slightly green flavors peek through a little on the mid-palate. 

The tannins are medium-grip and well integrated, and the finish is dry and medium-short. 

I don't ski, but I can picture myself enjoying a few glasses of this next to a crackling fire after a long day on the slopes. In warmer weather, pairing it with grilled meat seems like a no-brainer.

Producer: Windham Vineyards
AVA: New York State
ABV: 13.5%
Rating:  25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(Ratings Guide)