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- "Comtesse Thérèse 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot
A wine with a story partly about wood", Eileen M. Duffy, EDIBLE EAST END , No. 24, Spring 2010
- "Table for two? That'll be five years" Tangled in red tape since 2005, plans for Aquebogue bistro get the OK, Tim Gannon, RIVERHEAD NEWS-REVIEW, February 11, 2010
- "I, Locavore: Comtesse Terese Merlot," Sarah DiGregorio, Village Voice blog, Tuesday, Aug. 18 2009
- Lenndevours, "Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot", Lenn Thompson, January 15, 2009
- The New Napa Valley (in Long Island!), THE NEW YORK POST, Page Six Magazine, November 30, 2008
- "Market for Local Wines Overseas: Local Wineries Enjoy Small but Growing Export Business," THE SUFFOLK TIMES, John Henry, October 30, 2008
- Reviews from www.nywines.com, 95 score for 2006 Russian Oak Chardonnay, 90 score for 2004 Hungarian Oak Merlot, 92 for 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, date unknown
- "Meet the Owner: Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse, WINE PRESS, Julie Lane, Summer 2008
- "LI wineries say harvest is best in years", NEWSDAY, Mark Harrington, October 15, 2007
- LENNDEVOURS Q&A: "Theresa Dilworth, Co-owner and winemaker, Comtesse Therese," www. Lenndevours.com, May 24, 2007
- “Love Wine? Try Long Island's North Fork's Best Producers,” Marisa DVari, May 21, 2007
- “Building on a Banner Year”, WINE PRESS, Jane Starwood, April 12, 2007
- AppellationAmerica.com Wine Recommendations, Lenn Thompson, March 12, 2007
- "A Boutique on the North Fork," THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard G. Goldberg, February 11, 2007
- Over The Barrel... “For Affordability, Count on the Comtesse,” Lenn Thompson, www.DansHamptons.com, February 2, 2007
- “Long Island Wineries – A Fall Visit Full of Surprises,” www.bostonwinebuzz.com, January 2, 2007
- Ken's Wine Guide: reviews of 2004 Russian Oak Chardonnay, 2004 Hungarian Oak Merlot, 2003 Hungarian Oak Merlot
"Comtesse Thérèse 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot
A wine with a story partly about wood., by Eileen M. Duffy, Edible East End, No. 24, Spring 2010
Photograph: Randee Daddona
There are wines whose labels advertise the grapes inside the bottle. We all know them: merlot, cabernet, chardonnay. And there are wines that advertise where the grapes are from: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Neusiedlersee. But it's not very often, rare in fact, that labels tell where the grapes spent their time while being made into wine.
Not too long ago, labels trumpeted that oak barrels were involved, producing the rich, creamy, "oaky" chardonnay from "barrel-fermented" grapes. California adopted this method with gusto, and soon there was a backlash. Across the world in New Zealand, producers started bottling "unoaked" chardonnay, and putting it prominently on the label.
Wine was marketed with one loving eye cast on barrel-fermented chardonnay, and the other on chardonnay fermented and stored entirely in stainless steel.
So what gives? Is oak good or bad, and is all oak the same anyway?
Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse in Aquebogue knows the answer.
Oak and stainless steel are most decidedly not the same. Not that one's good and the other's bad, it just goes toward a style. Winemakers and coopers alike believe that, as with the variety of grape, environmental factors such as where the tree is grown, in what soil, in what climate, and where on the side of a hill figure into the influence the taste an oak barrel will have on finished wine.
American oak is known for giving a vanilla or coconut taste, and some wineries swear by it. None other than one of the more successful California wineries, Ridge, uses nothing but. Others won't touch it with a 10-foot pole, saying that, at half the price of French or Eastern European-Hungarian-barrels, you're getting what you pay for. But, still, some winemakers will use a little American oak to save money and blend it with wines from French oak barrels. All are readily available in the marketplace.
When she started making wine in 2001, Dilworth watched other winemakers at Premium Wine Group, the custom-crush facility in Cutchogue, use different kinds of oaks and then blend them together. One particular type caught her eye (and palate)-Hungarian oak or Quercus robur; the same species that predominates in French barrel making, but it was, just ... different.
"It's spicier," says Dilworth, "like cinnamon. People can't put their finger on it."
Her mind was made up. She'd produce a merlot made entirely in Hungarian oak.
The effect has been to start conversations. Dilworth says in the tasting room people ask her all the time if she's Hungarian (no). Or if the wine is from Hungary (again, no). And right there is an opening to tell the customer a little bit more about how wine is made and this wine in particular. And, says Dilworth, she just likes the way it tastes.
The use of Hungarian oak has been on the rise worldwide due to changes in the way it's being forested since the demise of the Soviet Union. The trees are now grown sustainably, with many being planted for each harvested. And the world has taken notice; French companies are setting up shop in Hungary and local coopers are being trained.
2005 was a tricky year for red wines on the East End. It started raining just before harvest and then kept going for more than a week. Some winegrowers got their grapes in early, before the forecasted deluge. Some watched as the ground beneath their grapes soaked, and waited for them to dry out to pick. The Hungarian oak merlot was picked after the rain, says Dilworth, who adds she lost nearly 30 percent of her crop from swollen berries that had split.
In the glass, the fruit flavors and aromas of this wine predominate. It's not too tannic; it's more like the wines Dilworth says she herself likes: pleasant and drinkable. And the Hungarian oak is fit for that. It is said Hungarian oak lets fruit flavors come through while adding a light oakiness.
The single varietal oak wine is now a solid category in the lineup at Comtesse Thérèse. A Russian oak chardonnay is already in bottle. And just as the global wine market stretches our sense of where wine can be made well, Dilworth has her eye on some Canadian oak. She's thinking of putting some dessert wine into it, as the Canadians do.
© EDIBLE EAST END 2010
"Table for two? That'll be five years" Tangled in red tape since 2005, plans for Aquebogue bistro get the OK, Tim Gannon, RIVERHEAD NEWS-REVIEW, February 11, 2010
Photo by BarbarEllen Koch. Owner Therese Dilworth and executive chef Arie Pavlou in front of the historic house in Aquebogue that Ms. Dilworth has long planned to turn into a bistro. She just received approvals from Town Hall to move forward on the project.
'I had no idea it would take this long.' Theresa Dilworth
Five years after it was initially proposed, the 28-seat Comtesse Thérese Bistro in Aquebogue finally received site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Planning Board last Thursday, and its owners -- Theresa Dilworth and her husband, Mineo Shimura -- hope for a late spring opening.
"I had no idea it would take this long," Ms. Dilworth said. "Now we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel." She said they almost had given up on the proposal several times.
Ms. Dilworth is an owner of a vineyard in Aquebogue and a tasting room in Peconic, She and her husband first proposed the bistro in 2005. It will occupy a 170-year-old, two-story house on the south side of Main Road in Aquebogue, the former Jamesport Saddlery building.
Ms. Dilworth is also an international tax attorney. Mr. Shimura, who manages the vineyard, is a former steel company executive.
"It will be kind of a classic bistro, with some French influence," Ms. Dilworth said. They've hired a chef, Arie Pavlou, a graduate of the Cordon Bleu in Paris, a former co-owner of Coeur de Vignes restaurant in Southold, and an instructor at the Culinary Institute at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead.
The wines served at the bistro will be local, Ms. Dilworth said, and so will the food.
A smaller version of the proposal won site plan approval in June but, after starting work on it in July, the couple decided they needed to enlarge the building, making a new site plan review necessary. Ms. Dilworth's expanded plan still calls for 28 seats but also a 426-foot addition for a second public bathroom and an indoor walk-in refrigerator.
The project required a special permit from the Town Board, along with approvals from the state Department of Transportation, the county health department and other agencies. Overflow parking on a neighboring property also required town approval. All those permits were granted last year and remain in effect for the larger structure.
But variances from the town Zoning Board of Appeals were necessary because the proposed extension pushed the building into required setbacks. The ZBA approval came on Jan. 25, with the Planning Board's nod for the new site plan the next week.
So how does a tax attorney become a winemaker and restaurant owner?
Ms. Dilworth said it actually started when she was in high school. "My brother got into beer-making and we would drink our own beers together," she said. That later led her to making wines.
Ms. Dilworth said she's always felt that what's missing from wine tasting rooms is food. "I've always wanted to have food and wine together," she said.
© TIMES REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2010
Lenndevours website, "Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot", Lenn Thompson, January 15, 2009
I know that the oak debate, among winemakers and wine geeks, usually centers American vs. French oak, with everyone arguing passionately in favor or their preferred barrel. But, as much as I tend to prefer the more expensive French cooperage, I really enjoy what a third type of oak, Hungarian oak, brings to the table as well.
That spice, and more understated raw oak flavors are on display in Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot ($18), an extremely approachable, enjoyable red.
The nose is playful and spicy, blending bright red berries -- cherries and raspberries -- with violets, black pepper and subtle brown spices.
The berry flavors are a bit darker on the juicy palate, with blackberry joining the party. That Hungarian oak brings layers of black pepper and spice, and also imparts hints of toasty oak and vanilla. There is plenty of fruit here to balance the oak.
The tannins are super-ripe tannins and just a little grippy. A bit more grip would be nice, but for drinking today and over the next couple of years, there's enough.
At $18, this one is well priced too.
"Market for Local Wines Overseas: Local Wineries Enjoy Small but Growing Export Business," THE SUFFOLK TIMES, John Henry, October 30, 2008
You just never know where you'll find wine from the North Fork.
It might be Copenhagen or Singapore or even Tokyo, some 14 time zones and 6,800 miles away. Those are markets where Long Island wineries have managed to gain a foothold in recent years, adding prestige -- if not much profit -- for their respective brands.
"It shows we're competing on an international playing field," says Richard Olsen-Harbich, the managing director of Raphael Vineyard in Peconic, which has sent two shipments to Japan in as many years. "Our wines are competing across the board from a quality standpoint with anything produced in the world."
Several other North Fork wineries have the same idea.
Bedell Cellars of Cutchogue and Comtesse Thérèse in Aquebogue have both exported wine to Japan in the last two years, and Peconic-based Lenz Winery hopes to line up an importer there. (Lenz has been shipping for the last five years to Singapore and for more than 20 years to Denmark, where Pellegrini Vineyards, another Cutchogue firm, started exporting about two years ago.)
While wineries may be preparing for a prolonged downturn in their business overall because of the rapidly deteriorating economic climate, Lenz's marketing director, Tom Morgan, believes exports could be "one of the bright spots" for his company. "Japan hasn't been affected too much," he says, "and Denmark is doing very well."
Echoing counterparts at other wineries, he says exports are only a small part of the business -- less than 5 percent of sales at Lenz. Moreover, though sales overseas, where customers pay the wholesale price, contribute welcome cash flow, he says retail sales in the company's tasting room in Peconic are "where the profit is."
Nonetheless, he says, Lenz is trying hard to land an account in Sweden that, coupled with the possible start of shipments to Japan, could generate enough volume for the winery's export sales to double this year. That would be "a significant amount of our total production," he says.
Also eyeing export opportunities is Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, which would like to get its wines into the Scandinavian and Canadian markets. "I would call it more a symbolic part of our business rather than a strategic part," concedes the company's president, Charles Massoud. "It's nice to be able to brag about."
The small but apparently growing volume of exports has its ironies. "Sometimes, things don't go in the order that you want," says Mr. Olsen-Harbich of Raphael Vineyard, noting that while his company has a distributor in Japan, it still lacks one in Connecticut.
For its presence in Japan, Raphael can thank Andrew Balmuth, who visited the Peconic vineyard a few years back and liked what he tasted. A former New Yorker now living in Tokyo, Mr. Balmuth runs an importing business specializing in food and beverages from New York State. "I thought that Japanese people love New York," he says, "so they would be naturally interested to discover new and exciting" products like New York wines.
He says many "New World" wines overpower Japanese food, whereas New York chardonnays, Rieslings and merlots aren't too sweet, are lower in alcohol and are medium bodied in the red wine category, making them an "elegant match" for the local cuisine.
In the last two years Mr. Balmuth has taken delivery of two containers' worth (more than 1,100 cases) of New York wine produced by Raphael, Comtesse Therese, Wolffer Estate Vineyards on the South Fork and an upstate vintner. "It's been a very, very successful relationship for us," says Mr. Olsen-Harbich.
While the weak dollar has helped lift U.S. exports of manufactured goods this year, New York wines are still extremely expensive in Japan because of high shipping costs and that country's multi-layered distribution system, according to Theresa Dilworth, one of Comtesse Thérèse's owners. "A bottle that would be $20 here would be $60 there," she says. "It's really out of the reach of the average person."
In Denmark, wines from Lenz, Pellegrini and Wolffer are imported by a businessman/chef named Per Brun, who operates 21 shops and restaurants throughout the country and runs annually in the New York City Marathon. Through annual visits to Long Island that he makes after the marathon, he became acquainted with East End wineries -- and impressed. So, too, he says, are his patrons.
"Customers are surprised about the wines and their quality," he says. "They all think" Long Island is too far north to make wine, "and I surprise them by telling them we are dealing with temperatures like Rome and Bordeaux and that we are talking of a wine production history of only 20 to 40 years."
One market local wineries would love to crack is Canada, whose close proximity makes it a particularly attractive for export since shipments can be trucked there. But dealing with provincial government alcohol boards, which sell the wine themselves, can be so daunting as to discourage efforts to tap the market. Just ask Herodotus "Dan" Damianos, owner of Pindar Vineyards in Peconic.
When Pindar exported to Canada, he says, its experience with provincial boards was "awful, awful." The company was paid only as the wine was sold, and it wasn't promoted. One time, Pindar received two unsold cases c.o.d. from a provincial board, and the winery had to pay several hundred dollars to get its merchandise back.
"I'll never go back there," vows Dr. Damianos.
© TIMES REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2008
The New Napa Valley (in Long Island!), THE NEW YORK POST, Page Six Magazine, November 30, 2008
"My blood pressure drops as soon as the Jitney gets to the other side of Riverhead," says Juliette Pope, the beverage director at the Gramercy Tavern—and an avid fan of the East End of Long Island. "There is an unspoiled quality to the landscape there—quaint towns, farm stands and pick-your-own fields along the way."
In the past three years, Juliette's lost some of her closest friends from the Big Apple to the burgeoning wine and food scene on Long Island (53 vineyards and counting). Take star pastry chef Claudia Fleming, who moved to Southold with her husband, Gerry Haden, in 2005 to open The North Fork Table & Inn, a restaurant and four-room hotel.
Claudia, an ex-Gramercy Tavern dessert-maker, admits she misses the high energy of Manhattan, but it doesn't compare with living just miles from the produce that inspires her dishes. "Being surrounded by the raw product and having a relationship with winemakers, farmers and fishermen is a chef's dream," Claudia explains. "And we're realizing it. I found a berry grower in [nearby] Orient. The raspberries are beyond any others I have ever tasted. Now, I use the red, white and pink raspberries in a meringue sandwich with raspberry sorbet."
Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck agrees. "There is nowhere else in the U.S. that has fish, shellfish, produce and wine within such a small area like here in Long Island wine country," she says.
Now a growing number of tourists are falling for the allure of Long Island wine country—even in winter. Just 90 miles east of Gotham, a quick two-hour drive will get you to the North Fork. Once there, driving from one end to the other takes just 30 minutes and a ferry can shuttle you to the South Fork, meaning you can easily cover more than 4,000 acres of vineyards, interspersed with farmlands and beaches, spread across Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay. No wonder celebrity chef Rachael Ray is a regular—she's often seen at favorite wineries Paumanok near Riverhead and Lenz in Peconic. Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at the Long Island Farm Bureau dance fundraiser at Martha Clara Vineyards this July. And the annual Jazz on the Vine festival—six weekends of more than 60 free jazz performances at wineries and restaurants that takes place February 14 to March 22 next year—doubles the number of visits to wineries by boldfacers and regular folk alike.
Vintner Roman Roth was one of the pioneers of the Long Island wine wave—the Germany native has been in charge of Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack on the South Fork, one of the area's established wineries, for 20 years. High-profile fans such as hotelier André Balazs and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander have recently commissioned the winemaker to create private bottlings for them. For Roman, the recent changes have been "dramatic. The wineries are producing much higher-quality wines; the vineyards are more balanced, and, like the winemakers, they are older, which has pushed the bar higher."
As established wineries like Wölffer, Lenz, Bedell and Pellegrini make the most of their growing popularity, new boutique vineyards are popping up around them. Half a dozen newcomers, including Bouké, Sparkling Pointe and Diliberto, have popped up on the scene in the last two years, and each has a unique story to tell. Vintner Tom Rosicki wound up on the North Fork thanks to a girl. "I met Cynthia Senko at a debutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria 21 years ago," explains Tom, co-owner of Sparkling Pointe, in Southold. "She was the 'uptown' girl, and me being the 'downtown' guy, I asked the waiter for a bottle of cheap white wine. After that night, I could see that I would have to do better. On our first date, I ordered my very first bottle of champagne. She agreed to marry me nine weeks later." Six years ago, he and Cynthia bought a sparkling-focused vineyard (the couple also owns a law firm together). This summer they released the first bottles from the winery (the only "bubbly" one on Long Island) and in October the pair signed a contract with the Waldorf, which will soon serve Sparkling Pointe wines at its restaurant Peacock Alley.
Experts say now is the perfect time to visit, even though it's chilly. "December, January and February are cold, but can be brilliantly sunny and exhilarating," says Louisa Thomas Hargrave, a 35-year resident of the area and the director of the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture. An added bonus is that the restaurants and shops are quieter once the Hamptons' summer crowds leave. "And if there is a particular winery you want to visit, call ahead. That way, you will usually get extra attention," Louisa advises. All we can say is, cheers to that.
A Winter Wine Weekend HOW TO EAT, DRINK, SHOP AND RELAX OVER TWO DAYS IN LONG ISLAND WINE COUNTRY.
Head west to Cutchogue for the state-of-the-art winemaking facilities at Bedell Cellars—owned by former New Line Cinema co-CEO Michael Lynne—for a wine tasting and gallery visit. While there, try top-of-the-line red wine Musée (its label is designed by artist Chuck Close) in the renovated 19o0s potato barn, while taking in contemporary works on display by renowned photographers Cindy Sherman and Uta Barth.
Spend half a day at South Fork wineries Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters.
Christopher Tracey, partner at Channing Daughters, is producing wines served at popular restaurants like Le Bernardin in Manhattan. Wölffer in Sagaponack is often host to celebrity bashes attended by Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and Elle Macpherson, and the James Beard Foundation hosts its annual Chefs & Champagne fundraiser here every summer. This year's guest-of-honor, Wolfgang Puck, attracted a big crowd, including Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall, photographer Bruce Weber and Le Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni. And if you need a break from wine tasting, you can always schedule a private horseback riding lesson ($135 for a one-hour class; 631-537-2879).
Choose five to six wineries to visit over two days. Don't miss new kid on the block Croteaux Vineyards in Southold, near the ocean, where there are three different styles of rosé to taste—from dry to fruity to full-bodied. "I could not make any other wine," confesses co-owner Michael Croteaux. "We live on the beach; I windsurf—it's great. The North Fork is a wine region that has an affluent, vibrant vacation population, and it's one of the only beachfront wine regions in the country."
Greenport, a seaport village near the eastern tip of the North Fork, is the hub of the area now being touted as the new Napa Valley. Start your visit here. Stop by the shops that line Main Street, including the nautical-themed Preston's (No. 102; 1-800-836-1165) and, a few doors down, hip design shop Verbena (No. 123; 631-477-4080).
To taste some of the up-and-coming boutique wines in one stop, drop in to the Tasting Room in Peconic. A must-try is Schneider Vineyards' cabernet franc, made from the red Bordeaux grapes that wine critics have declared best-suited for Long Island.
© THE NEW YORK POST 2008
Reviews from www.nywines.com
Vintner: Comtesse Thérèse
Wine: Russian Oak Chardonnay
Region: North Fork
Medium golden with a hint of green hue in the glass. Bouquet is rich with lemon, vanilla, butterscotch, shows tropical notes of nutmeg, eucalyptus, and mango. Baked apples, cantaloupe, and ripe pears open developing lemon chiffon, Creme Brulee and cinnamon on the mid pallet. Texture is creamy but not overly so. Flavors are fruit forward, round, full, and opulent. Pepper and spice jump up on the finish with an undertone of light acid to keep the wine open and provide counterpoint to fruit themes. Fascinating and beautifully crafted wine. Unusual oak aging provides interest and complexity over a classical Burgundy style Chardonnay. Fruit is balanced nicely by the work in the cellar. Good as an aperitif or pair with sharp cheeses, mollusks, or grilled fish. Excellent value.
Vintner: Comtesse Thérèse
Wine: Hungarian Oak Merlot
Region: North Fork
Wonderful nose, cherries, blackberries, sassafras, and peppers. Cherries and stone fruit forward balanced with pepper and spices from the oak. The Hungarian oak imparts a different experience from French or American varieties. Medium tart finish contrasts with the fruit. A well structured wine. It is apparent that a lot of thought went into the building of this wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, North Fork, Price $25, Score: 92
The Comtesse demonstrates her talents as the master of oak on the North Fork with the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. The wine shows dark garnet colors thinning slightly to the rim. Big aromas of thistle, currants, vanilla, and spice on the nose. Peppery and earthy flavors enlivened with fruit notes forward. Leather, tar, spice and a hint of mint on the palate with layers of smoke and toast underneath. Grippy tannins and acids on this full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon provide interest. Wine grumbles and make you pay attention. Finish is solid and assertive. Too big to be good as an aperitif. Pair with grilled or broiled aged red meats.
Traditional Merlot 2004, North Fork . Price $18. Score: 81
Medium garnet and ruby thinning on the rim. Vanilla, cassis, blackberries and a hint of smoke on the nose. Blackberries and Bing cherries with vanilla overtones. Develops characteristic pepper with pimento and thistle; interesting earth tones with rising minerals. Finish gets a bit thin, tannins are light and offer a little grip. Probably best as an aperitif but could pair with Sicilian pasta dishes or medium to heavy cheeses. Drink now.
© www.winesny.com 2008
"Meet the Owner: Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse", WINE PRESS, Julie Lane, Summer 2008
That Theresa Dilworth is a high-powered corporate tax attorney, owner of Comtesse Thérèse vineyard, operator of the The Tasting Room in Peconic and planning to open a restaurant in Aquebogue might lead you to assume she’s a driven woman. You’d be wrong
The woman whose father once suggested to her that she was a dilettante prone to flit from one new interest to another instead has channeled her significant energy and talent toward a combination of related interests.
“It’s not just jumping in all at once; it’s an evolution,” she says, admitting she has no doubt that had she not merged her interests in business, good food and good wine, she might indeed have ended up a dilettante. Instead, she started small, kept her focus and succeeded in building her business while attending to the demands of her day job as an international tax attorney for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.
“I always wanted to be an artist, but I’m too practical,” Ms. Dilworth says. Does she yearn to retire from her day job and spend all her time on the North Fork? No.
“That’s my full-time job and that is my first priority,” she says. She loves the international aspect of her work, loves being the “architect” of a project and seeing it through to fruition. But she’s still drawn to the vineyard that gives balance to her life.
As a 4-year-old, she began working side-by-side with her dad on their land in the Huntington-Lloyd Harbor area, where they planted large gardens. She considers her vineyard a natural extension of that childhood interest, but admits her friends at work “look at me like I’m crazy” when she tells them about it. They’re so proud of planting shadow boxes for their apartment windows, she says; they can’t understand planting and caring for acres of vines.
Some tease her about being a “Martha Stewart” clone, a suggestion she rejects.
“I have been like me since I was four, and I’m not a perfectionist,” she says. “There is room for error,” and that’s something she thinks Ms. Stewart wouldn’t allow. “You have to know every detail and plan every detail [but] you can’t control 100 percent of what’s going on,” she says. “In the beginning you think you can’t do it, but you can.”
Seven years ago, backed by two friends from Japan, the one-time home winemaker bought 40 acres of land in Aquebogue and planted a single acre of pinot noir. Her partners, who together own 25 percent of the operation, provided encouragement and money, but trusted Ms. Dilworth to develop and run the operation. “I feel very accountable to them,” Ms. Dilworth says. “But they know it’s for the long term and they have complete trust in me,” she says.
“I was very naive,” she says of her start in the business, but she gradually acquired the equipment and skills needed to work her land. If a tractor once seemed intimidating, today she rides one with ease, working the vineyard with her husband, Sammy Shimura, and her parents.
What started as a small planting on the northwest corner of her land was moved to the southwest the next year, and later to the southeast after extensive soil testing. Eventually, she sold 25 acres unsuitable for grapes to a neighbor and bought 26 plantable acres next to her original plot.
“I learned; I made mistakes; it’s a lot of work,” she says. “It’s a very, very slow process.” With 10 acres beginning to provide grapes for her cabernet sauvignon and merlot, she’s buying less fruit from other vineyards than she used to.
Her vines are more closely spaced than some others in the region, and she is the only local winemaker using Hungarian oak barrels rather than French or American. She also plans to begin using some Canadian oak barrels. “I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing; I don’t mind not following the crowd,” Ms. Dilworth says.
She describes Premium Wine Group, the Mattituck custom-crush facility where she makes her wines, as “like manna from heaven.” Instead of having to invest in expensive equipment, “all I have to do is bring my grapes over there,” she says. “It’s such a relief not to have to make an investment in capital equipment.” At Premium, she feels can count on high standards of sanitation and quality control.
Comtesse Thérèse started out producing 500-800 cases a year, a quantity she calls “peanuts in this industry.” In 2007, she was up to 1,100 cases, and was using some of her own grapes by 2005. She hopes to become totally independent of other vineyards, which will increase her profit.
Ms. Dilworth is still assessing the strengths and weaknesses of her grapes. “You work with what you have,” but you can make certain corrections as you get to know your own grapes, she says.
Given that most of her week is spent in New York City, a lot of the day-to-day tending of the vines falls to her parents and husband, who was a steel company executive who left that field when his company was sold. If he was indifferent at first, Mr. Shimura has now become as passionate about the vineyard as his wife is, she says.
Ms. Dilworth says the restaurant idea was an extension of her love for fine food and wine. She bought a run-down house on Main Road in Aquebogue in 2004 and has gradually restored it. “I like carpentry,” she says simply.
Tapping her legal skills, she has obtained approvals for zoning and site plan and dealt with health department regulations. Now she’s making her way through a particular licensing process that, by licensing the premises as a winery, will allow her to operate a restaurant, she says. She plans to install a small winery in a basement room that can be locked, as required by law, and there will even be a “miniature” vineyard. She hopes to open by next winter.
“I love food and I love cooking, and I want to have a place that I would want to go to,” she says. “Can I make it work? I think I can, but it’s kind of scary,” she admits.
© TIMES REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2008
"LI wineries say harvest is best in years", NEWSDAY, Mark Harrington, October 15, 2007
David Page of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck said he has never seen anything like it on Long Island.
Early blending wine from malbec grapes, he said, tastes of "blueberries slow-roasted in a wood-burning oven," cabernet sauvignon has alcohol levels exceeding 14 percent, and local chardonnay is displaying a "beautiful tropical character" with hints of papaya, melon and "pretty banana."
"It's completely across the board," Page said of the quality of this year's wines, still in the making. "We look at each other in total amazement, no matter what it is we're tasting." Page and Barbara Shinn, restaurant owners for two decades, have spent a decade growing grapes and making wine here.
Perfect weather for grapes -- and lots of it -- has produced the best crop the Long Island wine region has seen in years -- perhaps ever, vintners say. Sugar and corresponding alcohol are at levels seen in much warmer grape-growing regions, and minimal rain appears to have concentrated flavors. The only complaint some have registered is that acid levels are slightly lower than normal, a factor easily adjusted in the finishing process.
Meanwhile, this year's harvest marks one of the first times the stars came into alignment with high-quality grapes in unprecedented quantities. Page said Shinn vines produced 3.2 tons per acre, whereas 2.5 tons is typical. Others have seen similar or higher yields.
Even in bad years producers for the region's wines tend toward colorful effusiveness when describing the quality of their grapes and the resulting wines. But rarely is the praise so broad, covering everything from the whites, which were picked in early autumn, to the recently harvested reds. Riesling grapes at one vineyard are so plentiful that they will make it possible to produce three different iterations of the popular wine.
"In my memory, without question, it's one of the best years we've had, and the quality with the quantity is an unprecedented combination," said Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Riverhead. "It is really a grape grower and winemaker's dream."
The eight different grape varietals that Paumanok grows -- four white and four red -- came in equally as strong, Massoud said, something he's never experienced in nine years of winemaking. "Every varietal is as close to perfect as I've seen it."
In prior years temperate growing seasons were disrupted by drought, floods or the early onset of cool weather. But not this year.
And the relatively warm start to the fall reduced the impact of birds. Page of Shinn Estate said the usual migration of starlings didn't start in earnest until he had nearly all of his grapes picked. More recently, he's seen them swarming farms and vineyards in packs he estimates at 20,000. Because of the early harvest, he has for the first time in years been able to watch the leaves turn color on the vine with the comfort of knowing all his wine is in fermenting tanks before moving on to barrels.
Theresa Dilworth, owner of the Comtesse Thérèse vineyard in Aquebogue, said the merlot grapes she harvested several weeks ago were unprecedented, indeed almost too much of a good thing.
"They were giant clusters, big and juicy," she said, "double or triple the size of normal clusters."
Partly for that reason, she found she had double the expected capacity when it came time to make wine at a local cooperative: eight tons instead of the anticipated four. She also had so many cabernet sauvignon grapes -- 10 tons -- that she decided to sell three tons wholesale rather than make them into wine for her own label.
Paola Valverde, winemaker at Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, said the near-perfect growing conditions kept the grapes drier and less prone to disease, so less fruit had to be culled from the harvest. As a result, Macari had to bring in extra tanks to handle the extra tonnage. "The climate was good for everything," she said, noting that both white and red grapes benefited.
Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead reported this year's fruits were "clean, ripe and flavorful." While most of the Palmer harvest was finished about two weeks early because of the prime conditions, weather also allowed the winery to maintain six rows of gewürztraminer grapes on the vine longer than normal to maximize the taste of the late-harvest dessert wine.
At Osprey's Dominion Vineyards in Peconic, owner Bud Koehler said his crews had finished harvesting about two weeks ago, and he attributed the quality of the crop to a "wonderful fall." Seasonal weather, he said, allowed vineyards to hang fruit long enough without concern for weather or fungal damage, so levels of sugar, acid and pH were just right. He predicted the 2007 merlots and cabernet sauvignons will be among the marquis wines of the vintage.
Richard Pisacano, owner of Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead, said some vineyard owners have been so encouraged by the weather that a fair amount of red grapes remained hanging on the vine early this month, working toward a peak of flavor. He estimated that, as of last week, around 60 tons had yet to be harvested. He's also a vineyard manager at Wolffer Estates in Sagaponack, which recently finished harvesting. "There's no harm in letting it hang. It [the taste] can get more intense."
Pisacano emphasized that this year's wines were still in the making and that the true measure of its quality will come "when it settles down" after fermentation, in December.
In all, Pisacano said, the conditions will allow 2007 to go down as the year of "big, concentrated wines." Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse described them as "voluptuous."
The only problem for aficionados of local wines is that the reds from this year's vintage won't be available until 2009 at the earliest. (Some whites, like an early chardonnay from Macari, are already available, but most won't be ready until next year). Vintners advise us to keep our eyes on the merlots and cabernet sauvignons.
"You're definitely going to see a lot of great wines here on Long Island," Pisacano said.
© 2007, Newsday Inc.
LENNDEVOURS Q&A: "Theresa Dilworth, Co-owner and winemaker, Comtesse Therese," www. Lenndevours.com, May 24, 2007
For today's edition of LENNDEVOURS Q&A, we sit down with Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Therese.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I do not remember the first bottle of wine that I ever drank. I do remember though, when I was in law school in NYC, becoming very interested in the Sherry-Lehman wine shop on Madison Avenue, and especially the Sherry-Lehman wine catalog. I used to read every issue from cover to cover, studying all the descriptions of wines, the prices, the scores, trying to figure out which ones might be good. The wines I bought at that time were almost exclusively red wines from Bordeaux, not super-expensive ones, but ones that I thought were a good value for the price. Not First Growths, but maybe 3rd, 4th or 5th growths that seemed to have a good price-quality ratio.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
It was Memorial Day weekend, years ago, and I was driving back from upstate NY with one of my Japanese friends who ultimately became one of my business partners in the Comtesse Therese vineyard. At the time, I was doing home winemaking out of kits and I loved gardening, and I had been talking about how nice it would be to have a small vineyard, about an acre, just to do home winemaking with. And Chizuko, my friend, who had some experience with home winemaking herself, said she had always wanted to be the owner or part owner of a vineyard, so she suggested that we go into a partnership together to invest in a vineyard. The thought of doing it alone was too daunting, from a financial, emotional, and psychological perspective, but with partners it was less daunting, and so we decided to go ahead and buy some land and start the vineyard.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. It has now bottle aged to the point where it is drinking very well. It really is interesting to see how the wines age and improve over a couple of years.
What has surprised you most about being a winery owner on Long Island?
The amount of money and time that it takes. The amount of government agencies I have to deal with. The high degree of risk, and the low rewards.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
My husband is the one that buys the wines, so whatever he happens to have around the house. He is certified as a sommelier and likes to try wines from a lot of different regions, for his education. I am not that particular about what I drink, as long as it is dry and red. I do like a dry white wine once in a while though, like a Bordeaux Blanc.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I am not crazy about foie gras with Sauternes. Maybe it’s because I don’t like sweet wines. Since it is meat, I would rather have foie gras with a red wine.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself.
Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
I think I have had the most fun when traveling in Europe with my husband, and we just go into the local supermarkets and get cheap, and I mean cheap, local wine to drink with some local food. We get some local cheeses and breads or sausages or whatever and then bring it back to our B&B for lunch, or even an early dinner. When we were in Beaujolais, we got cheap but really good Beaujolais for 1.50 Euros in the supermarket, we got some good wines in Portugal for a couple of Euros, we did the same thing in Tuscany, etc. It is amazing how good the wines were for less than 5.00 Euros. In the Loire Valley, we had some great cabernet francs for less than $10. In Normandy, I loved the butter too, the local supermarkets had about 20 varieties of local butter, and we would put it on the bread and eat it just about every day in the car as we were touring around.
“Love Wine? Try Long Island's North Fork's Best Producers,” Marisa DVari, May 21, 2007
Quick! When you think of “wine country” in the United States, what area leaps to mind? The San Ynez Valley (hello, Sideways) or the Napa or Sonoma Valley? Wrong. Today the buzz is all about the North Fork of Long Island.
Right now, the young wineries of the North Fork are at a similar place to where San Ynez was twenty years ago with just a handful of dedicated, Mom and Pop style producers who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds to make great wine.
Comtesse Therese is an artisanal vineyard founded in 2001 and has already won many awards, including “Best Merlot in NY” at the New York Wine & Food Classic in 2004. I tasted through many of their wines, including the Russian Oak Chardonnay, the ‘Traditional Merlot,’ and their Cabernet Franc. Winemaker Theresa Dilworth has a very personal style that is not as fruit-forward as her California counterparts, but quite unique and ‘old world.’ Though I didn’t see the winery, I enjoyed Raphael First Label Merlot 2001, a wine with a very inky black color that hinted at intense extraction and offered aromas of black fruit, tobacco, and dried leaves.
The North Fork is about two hours from Manhattan. Since wineries are spread out, you might consider making a weekend of it. I didn’t get a chance to see the rooms, but I did have lunch at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn (built 1863, reconstructed in 2004) in Jamesport, New York. Executive Chef Thomas G. Schaudel and Chef de Cuisine Michael Ross value freshness and artisanal ingredients, such as Satur Farms baby beets and goat cheese from the nearby Catapano Dairy Farm, where you can buy cheese, pet adorable baby goats, and even buy beauty products made from goat’s milk.
The wines I experienced today were quite better than most Long Island wines I’ve had to date – and quality is still evolving and improving. With the support of fellow New Yorkers (are you listening, sommeliers at top restaurants and wine store buyers?) and the rest of the country, the future bodes well.
“Building on a Banner Year”, WINE PRESS, Jane Starwood, April 12, 2007
Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of Comtesse Therese, is excited about taking over operations at The Tasting Room in Peconic last summer. "Being responsible for operating The Tasting Room on behalf of my own small winery and four other small wineries has been a lot of work, but has also been fulfilling and interesting." While it's a big step for her, Ms. Dilworth said, "It's good to have a permanent space, open year round, for the public to visit." She plans to keep building on the success of The Tasting Room while she applies to Riverhead Town to turn the barn at her vineyard in Aquebogue into a seasonal, on-site tasting room. "Being outside in the vineyard will give visitors a different experience from the Tasting Room experience." If all goes smoothly, her vineyard tasting room could open as early as this coming fall. And as if all that weren't enough, Ms. Dilworth is working toward renovating a building on Main Road in Aquebogue and opening a small bistro pairing local wine with local foods.
© TIMES-REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2006
"A Boutique on the North Fork," THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard G. Goldberg, February 11, 2007
There is no countess behind Comtesse Thérèse wines; the principal owner of the brand is Theresa K. Dilworth, a New York tax lawyer and avowed francophile.
Four newly released reds from Comtesse Thérèse use grapes supplied from other North Fork vineyards, because Ms. Dilworth did not begin making wine from her own vines until 2005.
The four wines need decanting and time to develop further in the bottle. They are good accompaniments for beef.
Ms. Dilworth’s simple 2004 Hungarian Oak Merlot ($18), which loosens up with at least two hours’ aeration, is spicy, a bit tarry, slightly woody and, as Ms. Dilworth puts it, rustic.
Named for the proportions of its grapes, her 70% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Cabernet Franc, a light 2004 bottle ($20), offers an inviting cabernet sauvignon aroma and a smoky body.
The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($25) is robustly gamy, smoky, somewhat minty and redolent of macerated dark berries.
The standout is the 2004 Château Reserve Merlot ($30). Soft, plush, round, meaty and spicy, it is a pretty wine.
Ms. Dilworth also offers a sprightly off-dry aperitif rosé, 2005 Blanc de Noir ($18), made from cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Her collection was produced at the Premium Wine Group, a for-hire winery in Mattituck. Bernard Cannac, head wine maker at Duck Walk Vineyards, in Water Mill, is her consultant.
Ms. Dilworth’s boutique operation, which began with 550 cases in 2001, made about 1,100 cases last year.
Her vineyard, Le Clos Thérèse in Aquebogue, is not open to the public. It is managed by her husband, Sammy Shimura, a retired steel executive.
Her wines are sold at the Tasting Room, 2885 Peconic Lane, in Peconic, which Ms. Dilworth acquired last July. She hopes to open a bistro in the former Jamesport Saddlery building in Aquebogue late this year.
© THE NEW YORK TIMES 2007
Over The Barrel... “For Affordability, Count on the Comtesse,” Lenn Thompson, www.DansHamptonscom, February 2, 2007
I find myself defending Long Island wines—way more than I should have to. First, I have to defend them against those who just don’t see what the big deal is. To them, I say that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there are locals making outstanding wines. Not every wine or winery—but some. And the number grows with every vintage it seems.
And then there is price. That’s the other complaint—and honestly, it’s a bit harder to stand up Long Island wineries in this regard. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of over-priced wines being made here. But, if you know the wines, there are also some great deals—including some that cost $30-50 a bottle. Remember that value is possible at any price point, not just wines under $10.
Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of and head winemaker for Comtesse Therese, is refreshing because she is one producer who could probably sell at least a few of her wines for much more than she charges today. Let’s hope she keeps it that way.
Dilworth’s 2005 rose hasn’t been released yet, but it’s always one of my strawberry- and cherry-flavored favorites. She has released a rose however, 127 cases of her 2005 Blanc de Noir ($18). Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not a sparkler, but it is quite unique. Made from merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes, the nose is dominated by sweet, floral peach aromas. The peach is a little overwhelming actually. Its medium bodied and—again—very peachy with only a little bit of berry beneath. Wait for Dilworth’s next rose release.
A few weeks ago, Lisa Granik wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that, among other mis-informed ramblings, stated there isn’t enough experimentation on the East End. I hope Ms. Granik gets to taste Dilworth’s Comtesse Therese 204 Hungarian Oak Merlot ($18), which is (as the name implies) aged in Hungarian—rather than French or American—oak barrels. This is a high-production wine for Comtesse Therese, even though only 304 cases were made. The wine is a medium crimson in the glass and shows an old world mix of dry earth, cherry, raspberry—and black pepper spiciness brought on by that Hungarian barrique. Similar flavors carry into the palate, which is lighter body that you might expect and just a little rustic, with tannins that aren’t quite integrated completely. The oak influence might be a little heavy here, but enjoy this red with pizza and other red-sauce Italian food.
Dilworth also makes two other merlots—a 2004 Traditional Merlot that hasn’t been released yet, and her 2004 Chateau Reserve Merlot ($30). I tasted Traditional last weekend, but it’s not quite ready for release. Still, it’s showing nice balance between fruit flavor, spice and oak influence. That bodes well for the future.
The Chateau Reserve, however, was the best of the current releases—and probably the wine that best exemplifies Long Island’s unique terroir. The nose offers fruity blackberry and blueberry aromas accented by subtle earthiness, light vanilla and just a little oak. Nicely balanced, it shows fruit-forward flavors cherries, blackberries and blueberries with ripe, well-integrated tannins and an elegant, lengthy finish. It’s a deal at $30 and should age beautifully for 5-7 years. This wine hasn’t been made since the much ballyhooed 2001 vintage, and there are fewer than 100 cases available.
It’s hard to like the boringly straightforward name, but Comtesse Therese’s 2004 70% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Cabernet Franc ($20) is a soft, slightly juicy blend that avoids over-oaking well. The berry aromas and flavors you’d expect are there with subtle cinnamon, chocolate and violet notes as well. The tannins are soft and the noticeable acidity makes this a good food wine. This was my second-favorite wine of the lot. And at least Dilworth didn’t resort to calling this a meritage.
The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($25), however, suffers from heavy-handed use of oak a little bit. There just isn’t enough fruit flavor to stand up to the oak influence, causing a slightly disjointed wine. Maybe some additional bottle time will bring harmony. Maybe 2003 was just an off year.
Dilworth’s wines are available at The Tasting Room in Peconic, visit www.tastingroomli.com for more information.
“Long Island Wineries – A Fall Visit Full of Surprises,” www.bostonwinebuzz.com, January 2, 2007
Not too far from Boston is a wine region on the cusp of delivering some very special wines. Below we will highlight some notable Long Island wineries which are about a 5 hour trip from Boston.
Over the 2006 Columbus Day weekend we traveled to Long Island’s wine region. We found it to be full of surprises. I went there looking for new Merlots to replace the promising 2001’s that I have enjoyed in the past. Surprisingly, I found the wines that I enjoyed the most were Chardonnays. I consider myself a very tough critic of Chardonnay. I was quite impressed with the quality of the Chardonnays that I tasted during this visit.
My favorite wine was the 2005 "Reserve" Chardonnay from Corey Creek. Wow! I really liked this wine and purchased some to bring to friend’s house we were visiting for lunch. You need to be a club member to get this wine. If you are interested in buying some of this wine, I suggest you join the club soon. It was the big winner. The people at Corey Creek were very friendly and hospitable.
A newcomer for me was the Jamesport Vineyards. This was my first visit to Jamesport Vineyards but it won’t be my last. They had the most wines that made my list of notable Long Island wines. My favorite was their 2004 "Cox Lane" Chardonnay.
The Paumanok Vineyard and Comtesse Thérèse both had some very interesting wines. Paumanok had a 2004 "Assemblage" that I feel will get some positive critical acclaim. Comtesse Thérèse had two 2004 wines that I think will be winners as well. I really liked the 2004 Comtesse Thérèse "Russian Oak" Chardonnay and I got a sneak peak at the 2004 Comtesse Thérèse "Hungarian Oak" Merlot. I would get in line for these wines. They will go fast.
Another new winery for me was Peconic Bay. I stopped there because they had a sign out front saying their Merlot had just won a “Best in New York State” award. I really liked their 2004 "La Barrique" Chardonnay. It was delightful. I liked the Chardonnay much more than the Merlot which surprised me.
We concluded the trip at Macari Vineyards which is one of our favorite Long Island wineries. We first visited Macari in the fall of 2003. At that time, we really enjoyed their 2001 Merlot. This time we were more impressed by their 2004 white wines. We were particularly fond of their 2004 "Estate" Chardonnay and their 2003 "E Block" dessert wine.
Overall, I can clearly see an improvement in Long Island wines from our last visit in the fall 2003. On this visit, the white wines we tried surpassed the red wines in terms of quality. I am sure this has a lot to do with the growing seasons for 2002 and 2003 which were tough, particularly for red grapes. It is also worth noting that the 2004 red wine vintage looks promising and I look forward to trying it as it becomes available. I strongly encourage you to visit the North Fork of Long Island and enjoy their wines. The people at the wineries are very friendly. The scenery is beautiful and if you live in the Northeast, it is a great getaway weekend. If you live far away, and you are coming to the New York City area, and you want to extend your stay, visiting the Long Island wineries is a very fun and enjoyable time.
To see all of my Long Island wine reviews, see KensWineGuide.com.
Cheers – Ken and Theresa
2004 Comtesse Thérèse Chardonnay "Russian Oak"
Region: Long Island , State or country: NY, Price: $18, Cases produced: 256
KWG Score: 88.5 (based on 2 reviews)
Ken's Wine Rating: Very Good+ (93.99-90)
Review date: October 8, 2006
Wine Review: On the nose, this wine was very expressive, rich smelling, and inviting. On the palate, the flavors are creamy and delightful. There are mild vanilla flavors in this wine. The finish is fresh and delightful. This would be a nice match for food. Enjoy – Ken
Winemaker Notes: Bright yellow color with an elegant nose, toasted walnuts, eucalyptus, and citrus. Good balance between oak and fruit. Floral notes, honey and honeysuckle on the palate. Round, supple and well balanced with good harmony. Long finish with nice acidity and elegant tannins. Good with shellfish, fish, meat with creamy sauces and hard cheeses. Serve at 50 F.
Organic status: not organic
2004 Comtesse Thérèse Merlot "Hungarian Oak"
Winery: Comtesse Thérèse
Vintage: 2004, Wine Name/Vineyard: "Hungarian Oak", Wine Category: Merlot, Grape blend: 100% Merlot, Region: Long Island, State or country: NY, Price: $18, Cases produced: unknown
KWG Score: 90 (based on 1 review)
Ken's Wine Rating: Very Good+ (93.99-90)
Review date: October 8, 2006
Wine Review: On the nose, this wine is mild and expressive. On the palate, this wine is fruity and tasty. This is a food friendly wine. This was the best wine from this up and coming producer. It was to be released soon and is a good sign of things to come from the 2004 vintage. Enjoy - Ken
Winemaker Notes: Not Available
2003 Comtesse Thérèse Merlot "Hungarian Oak"
Winery: Comtesse Thérèse
Vintage: 2003, Wine Name/Vineyard: "Hungarian Oak", Wine Category: Merlot, Grape blend: 100% Merlot, Region: Long Island, State or country: NY, Price: $18, Cases produced: 130
KWG Score: 85.5 (based on 2 reviews)
Ken's Wine Rating: Very Good (89.99-87)
Review date: October 8, 2006
Wine Review: This wine has a bit of a funky nose. On the palate, the wine is light and fruity. It is smooth and a bit acidic. A tasty wine. Enjoy – Ken
Winemaker Notes: Like the highly regarded 2001and 2002, the 2003 is pleasantly drinkable, yet, "a little different". Bright, ruby color with a nose of cherry, raspberry and spices. Round, medium body with violet, black pepper and a hint of cloves in the palate. Soft finish complemented by smooth tannins. Pairs well with charcuterie, grilled meats and young cheeses.