Featured Wine: A 2009
MACARI VINEYARDS “EARLY WINE” CHARDONNAY 2009, NORTH FORK, LONG ISLAND, USA $17
We don’t have a Beaujolais Nouveau type deal in the USA, so it’s rare to find ourselves drinking home-grown wines with the current year’s vintage stamped on the label. That’s one reason to pay attention to this “Early Wine Chardonnay 2009” from the North Fork of Long Island. The other reason is because of the label of the winery itself: not only does Macari Vineyards bottle a number of excellent reds, but its Sauvignon Blanc is surely the best on the East Coast.
Perhaps it’s because I had their benchmark white wine in mind, maybe it’s a matter of the winery’s North Fork terroir, and it can also be reasonably assumed that it is the result of bottling a wine so quickly (the grapes were harvested on September 24, the wine was released to the public November 12), but I could easily have mistaken this Chardonnay for a Sauvignon Blanc.
And that, I hasten to add, is a good thing – especially for those who like white wines that are racy and fresh, lively and frisky. Understandably very light in color, it emitted a powerful citrus aroma full of lemon, lime and gooseberry. Equally understandably, given its youth, it was sharply (though not erringly) acidic, with more citrus on the palate, joined by some Granny Smith apple that evoked Riesling as much as Chardonnay, and a lightly creamy chalky finish. What it lacked in finesse, it more than made up for in child-like enthusiasm. It was appropriate, then, that I opened it for Noel’s fifth birthday party (on Christmas Eve), where it was emptied before you could say “Is that Gustafer Yellowgold on your cake, Noel?” By comparison, a bottle of Vins de Pays Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (labeled “Cinquante-Cinq”) imported by the reliable T. Edward Wines, lingered in the bottle, its endearing minerality offset by a certain high yield dullness.
The Early Wine Chardonnay does not come as cheap as you might like: the $17 retail price indicates Macari’s confidence in its wine-making abilities. (The Cinquante-Cinq, by comparison, retails for $12-$13.) But viewed another way – alongside, say, almost any other stainless steel (i.e., unoaked) Chardonnay from the East Coast, a pure Chablis, or, given that I’m using this reference point, a fresh Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire – its price point begins to seem more like a bargain. As the only 2009 wine I believe I drank in 2009, it demonstrates Chardonnay’s versatility; holds out refreshingly high hopes for the white wines (if not the reds) in a vintage that, on the East Coast, was blighted by cool temperatures and rain; and it confirms Macari’s ongoing excellence. That’s at least three reasons to raise a glass. Cheers.