By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Even with the release of its 2007 wines, its second vintage, Onabay_07wildOnabay Vineyards, remains firmly under the radar of most local wine lovers. But they are a winery worth keeping an eye on for a number of reasons.

Their vineyard is mature — 18 years old — and is managed by industry veteran Steve Mudd. The wines are made by another local vet, Bruce Schneider, a fellow cabernet franc fanatic and owner of Schneider Vineyards.

Beyond Mudd and Schneider, Onabay is a family affair. The Anderson family owns the 180-acre farm that houses the vineyard and they involved in every other aspect of the winery.

Francesca Anderson, a renowned botanical artist, created the drawings of herons that appear on the front labels. Her daughter, Mia C. Anderson, a published poet, wrote the poems that adorn the back labels. And her other daughter, Chiara Anderson Edmands, oversees the winery’s marketing and promotional efforts.

As its label hints, this Onabay Vineyards 2007 Wild Ferment Chardonnay ($27), is barrel-fermented in
two-thirds French oak and one-third stainless steel using the
indigenous (aka "wild") yeast that is naturally found on the grapes when
harvested. The chardonnay is Dijon clone.

The nose offers lots of ripe pear with baking spice, light sweet corn and white flower aromas layered beneath.

Mouth-filling spice-roasted pear flavors lead the way on the fuller-bodied, round-but-balance palate, with lemon curd stepping forward on the creamy mid-palate. The finish is long and crisp, with nice acidity and an intriguing spicy lees note.

It's easy to write off barrel-influenced chardonnay (I'm guilty of it myself), but this one is well balanced and not overblown. A fine example of well-made North Fork barrel-fermented chardonnay.

Producer: Onabay Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 12.5%
Price: $27*
Rating: 30 (3 out of 5 | Recommended)  
(Ratings Guide)