Monday, November 23, 2009

Woelffer Wines from Long Island, New York State

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller at the Woelffer Estate

I tasted Woelffer wines at their Estate in the Hamptons of Long Island.

In little over a quarter of a century the Long Island wine industry has grown from one small vineyard to 3,000 acres of vines and over thirty wineries producing outstanding wines. Located in New York State, on the East Coast of the United States, Long Island extends some 120 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Its maritime climate, geography and soil characteristics provide ideal conditions for producing wines of exceptional quality.

The Woelffer Estate is one of the top wine estates on Long Island, New York State, and one of the few Long Island wineries that is located in the Hamptons, while most Long Island wineries are cluttered on the North Fork. The rustic, Tuscan-style winery is set on a rise overlooking the vineyards to the east and the gently rolling Hamptons landscape to the west. It would not be what it is today without the two Germans Christian Woelffer, its founder, and Roman Roth, its wine maker. I have written about them in my German Winemakers in the World series. See here.

Reflecting the vision of industry pioneer Christian Wölffer, who is no longer with us because of his untimely death last year, the former potato fields of what are now the vineyards of the Woelffer Estate have become an area that produces wine which are among those that set the quality benchmark of Long Island winemaking today.

Woelffer produces 16,000-20,000 cases each year. The 12,000-square-foot winery houses a tasting room and boutique; a state-of-the-art winemaking facility equipped with computerized stainless-steel tanks, laboratory, riddling rooms, bottling line, and a cellar to hold the wines before distribution; and in keeping with the European tradition, barrel rooms constructed of high-vaulted caves and a wine library. Guests may select from a range of wine flights and enjoy a cheese plate with a selection of artisanal cheeses. French doors open onto a stone terrace that is bordered with hydrangeas and overlooks the vineyard, offering one of the most picturesque views in Hamptons wine country.

Tasting Notes

Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blanc, 2006—100% Chardonnay, medium lemon colored sparkler, with an active light bead, clean, fragrant aromas of bright melon and pear with a floral note, very crisp, effervescent attack, creamy mousse, dry on the palate with modest green melon and apple fruit, robust finish

Chardonnay 2007---100% Chardonnay, 30% stainless steel fermented, the rest oak-barrel fermented, lemon in color, attack of tropical fruit on the nose, on the palate, it displays a honey leesy mouth feel with moderate acidity and a firm finish

Grandioso Rose 2008—39% Chardonnay, 32% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot

This is a “Schiller”. Winemaker Roman Roth knows how to make Schiller from back home in Germany. Schiller is made by blending red and white grapes before fermentation. It looks like a Rose, but it is not, at least not in the French tradition. You can find Schiller only in the region of Württemberg in the south of Germany. The wine got its name from the verb “schillern”. The verb “schillern” means “to scintillate”. “Schiller” is thus a wine with a scintillating color, reflecting the fact that the wine is a blend of red and white grapes. In the past, Schiller used to be a Gemischter Satz wine, but to my knowledge nobody does it any more. Today, Schiller is a blend, but not a field blend. See my posting of August 12, 2009

The Grandioso is a blend, but not a field blend, shinny pale in color, the aroma is full with fresh lime, papaya, and some raspberry notes, the mouth-feel is crisp, elegant and austere, lip-smacking acidity and beautiful yeast notes ensure a vibrant finish

Fatalis Fatum 2006 -- 42% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 27,5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Barbera, dark-red in the glass, attack of blueberries and strawberries aromas, full-bodied wine with layers of soft tannins and dark chocolate, intense and lasting finish

Merlot 2007—89% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, a typical right bank Bordeaux blend, dark-red in the glass, aromas of prunes and ripe cranberries, medium-bodied and balanced between fruit and tannin, long finish, Woelffer is member of the LIMA (Long Island Merlot Alliance), also comprising Borghese, Clovis Point, McCall, Pellegrini, and Raphael.

Cabernet Franc 2006---78% Cabernet Franc, 20%Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, another right-banl blend, dark-red in the glass, very aromatic wine, showing cassis, raspberry and vanilla hints, the mouth-feel is rich and vibrant, concentrated wine, but with a classic elegance that reflects the high portion of cabernet Franc, long finish

Estate Selection Merlot 2004---80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, very dark red color, aromas of figs, dried prunes with toasty oak, medium-bodied mouth-feel with dark chocolate and red cherries, long finish, a great wine with a considerable aging potential

I tasted also the Christian’s cuvee which I have described separately in my In the Glass Series. See here.

I also visited the Borghese Estate. The tasting notes are here.

Woelffer wines are available in Germany through the Bacchus-Vinothek in Rottweil

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