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Long Island Wine

Macari Vineyards Cuvée Gabriella. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

When winemaker Kelly Koch arrived at Macari Vineyards in 2010, one of the first discussions she had with the team was about sparkling wine. The decision to bring it back was easy.

“The Macari family made a delicious sparkling wine back in the mid-late 90s, but the sparkling program had been on hiatus for years,” she said. “We all loved sparkling wine, the equipment to make it was already on site, and the vineyard had a history of making high-quality bubbles.”

The result is this week’s wine of the week: Macari Vineyards’ 2010 “Cuvée Gabriella” Sparkling Brut Rosé, a pink bubbly named for owner Joe and Alexandra Macari’s daughter, Gabriella. It’s also the first-ever sparkling rosé from the estate.

Despite her winemaking experience both here and in her native California, Koch had never made sparkling wine before.

“Gabriella and I are both lucky to have friends that make sparkling wine in other regions so we are always looking for advice and feedback to improve our results here on Long Island,” Koch said.

Every year they have a chance to refine their process, but Koch characterizes that fact as “tricky” because the wine takes so many years to age, develop and be released. Basically, any tweaks you make to your vineyard or cellar practices won’t reveal their impact on the finished wine for many years.

From where I sit, I’m not sure how much improvement is necessary. This first effort is delicious and was a standout even among a half case of sparkling wine I enjoyed on New Year’s Day. Made from 100 percent pinot noir, it’s bright and refreshing, as sparkling wine should be, with fresh flavors of strawberry and cherry with subtle nutty yeastiness. It’s at once mouth-filling on the palate and lithe and focused.

And it holds a special place in Koch’s heart.

“This was the first fruit picked of the 2010 harvest — my first harvest with the Macaris,” she said.

Cuvée Gabriella is available in small quantities as the Mattituck tasting room for $35.

Lenn Thompson