I’ve been harsh — maybe even too harsh, admittedly — toward local chardonnay for many years. The barrel-fermented or barrel-aged stuff, anyway.
But as Long Island’s best winemakers have have scaled back the use of new oak across the board, local chardonnay has improved exponentially. It’s been some time since I’ve tasted wines that were horribly beaten with oak — tasting of raw wood or buttery and overwhelming vanilla flavors.
The best local chardonnay shows ripe fruit qualities, with a creamy texture on the mid-palate, maybe just a little vanilla or nutty character and fresh, balancing acidity on the finish.
This week’s Wine of the Week, Roanoke Vineyards 2016 Rhyme & Meter Chardonnay ($30) is a fine example.
It starts with lemony aromas backed by green melon and just a little vanilla and nutty spice.
Like many 2016 whites, there isn’t a ton of heft or concentration here, but a core of citrusy fruit is nicely accented with spice and jasmine notes and the use of older oak barrels brings a bit of roundness on the palate rather than overly woody notes.
I drank it with a simple roast chicken, but it would be just as satisfying as the weather warms and you’re looking for a brisk accompaniment to spring fare.
Released only to the wine club so far, it will be available to the public later this year.