At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it one more time: the wines at Harbes Vineyard are way better than they need to be. With the throngs of people who visit their farm and agritainment mecca on the North Fork, they could get away with mediocre wines for the masses — but that’s not what I’ve found. Ed Harbes and consulting winemaker Erik Bilka are doing good things and Harbes Vineyard is a producer on the rise. It’s a winery that wine lovers, not just wine tourists, need to know.
Our wine of the week, Harbes Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Franc ($29) spent 16 months in French oak and the scent is perhaps a bit too prominent when the wine is opened, coming across a hint of campfire on the nose, but there is plenty of wine beneath. Concentrated notes of blackberry and black cherry are accented by enough bay leaf and sage herbal aromas to remind you that this is cabernet franc.
The oak is a bit less pronounced on a palate that has ripe, almost dense fruit character — more blackberry and black cherry — with a nice spice component that pushes the herbaceous qualities to the background. Medium-intensity tannins are joined by a nice bit of fresh-fruit acidity to create a lively, but balanced mouthfeel. The finish is long and a bit spicy with just the faintest vanilla note.
Re-tasted a day later, the campfire notes have faded and the varietal herb character is a bit more overt — which I like.
The wine is available at the winery’s Mattituck tasting room (behind the main farm stand) for $29.