When I first heard about the North Fork’s newest wine label, Hound’s Tree wines, I was a bit confused.
Last year, Alex Rosanelli and his uncle Alfredo Apolloni, of Oregon’s Apolloni Vineyards, bought Sherwood House Vineyards’ land and farmhouse from founder Barbara Smithen following the death of her husband, Dr. Charles Smithen. The deal didn’t include the Sherwood House Vineyards brand, but Rosanelli and Apolloni are still selling fruit to Sherwood House, as well as using the fruit to make their own Hound’s Tree line.
Gilles Martin, who makes the Sherwood House wines as a consultant, also consults for Hound’s Tree — but Rosanelli and Apolloni are the co-winemakers. And Hound’s Tree’s wines are available for tasting and purchase at Sherwood House’s tasting room. But according to Rosanelli, they “otherwise produce and operate independently.”
Perhaps over time there will be a bit more differentiation, but after tasting through the lineup the wines themselves are quite different from Sherwood House’s in style. There is a purity and freshness to all of the Hound’s Tree wines that isn’t as prominent with the Sherwood House wines, though that could be in part because Sherwood is selling red wines from 2007 through 2011 instead of 2015.
This week’s Wine of the Week, Hound’s Tree Wines 2015 Cabernet Franc ($28), exemplifies that fresh, bright style. Made from a French cabernet franc clone (Clone 332) and aged in French and Hungarian oak for a year, it starts with notes of bramble, raspberry and cranberry before revealing notes of dried oregano and tobacco. Medium-bodied and fresh with acidity, there is a distinct licorice edge that accentuates the herbaceous nature of cabernet franc.
Although it isn’t super-concentrated on the mid-palate, the freshness and long, earthy finish are quite nice. There is, thankfully, very little oak footprint here.
As I mentioned, this wine is available at the Sherwood House Vineyards tasting room in Jamesport.