By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Img020As covered during our harvest updates, 2009 wasn't an easy growing season for local wineries. The season started slowly and didn't really catch up until a long, warm finish that stretched well into November.

Just how 'behind' was the season early on compared to 2008?

Well, chardonnay that went into this wine was harvested on September 24 — more than two weeks later than it was in 2008 when it came in on September 9. But, it appears to have been worth the wait. This is my favorite edition of "early wine" in years.

Austrian Helmut Gangl, is one of Macari Vineyards' part-time winemakers (along with Chilean Paola Valverde), and he created
this wine in 2004 as a bit of an homage to the Jungwein ('young wine') from his homeland.

Like I said, the fruit for Macari Vineyards 2009 "Early Wine" Chardonnay ($17) was picked on September 24, it was bottled on November 5 and then released a week later on November 12.

Nearly colorless, Early Wine is somewhat reminiscent of sauvignon blanc on the nose, showing bright citrus and lemon balm aromas, subtle floral notes and a distinct saline minerality.

Medium-light in body, the palate is similarly citrusy but with passion fruit and quince joining the fruit salad. The balance is very good in this edition, with any residual sugar balanced extremely well by fresh, citrusy acidity.

Simple? Yes, but extremely refreshing and appetite-whetting. And just plain fun. A unique expression of 'naked' chardonnay.

I did like it better when it was $13 though. It's a much better value at that price point.

Producer: Macari Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 12%

Price: $17*

Rating:  30 (3 out of 5 | Recommended)

(Ratings Guide)