As I scanned the parking lot/wading pool, looking for a flotation device, I was greeted by the wizened hound, Trevie. This unique canine acted as Castello di Borghese Vineyards' (nee Hargrave Vineyards) welcoming committee. Trevie is the faithful subject of Prince Marco & Princess Ann Borghese - proprietors of the estate. My visit to the vineyards and winery, were brief in light of the precipitation situation. Lenn, WG, and I soon retired to the tasting room and started our sensory calisthenics. Some highlights of CdiB's tasting table:
Chardonnay Estate 2003 ($13) - Initially fermented in stainless steel for 19 months, then finished off in Oak barrels. On the nose this wine is full of pear and apple, along with notes of oak - vanilla, cream, and caramel. This wine is most impressive in the mouth. It's crisp and fresh from start to finish. This zest is complimented by a rich texture and straightforward fruit flavors. It all adds up to a well-behaved, well-priced Chardonnay.
Riesling Estate 2003 ($14.50) - This little number had me a first sniff. I loathe comparisons, but I was reminded of an Alsatian-German Riesling hybrid: scents of pear and orange mated to earthy aromas. There also seemed to be mineral and floral scents lurking in the glass. Well-balanced all around in the mouth. I detected a small amount of sweetness, and a whole lot of bright acidity. While not terribly complex, this is a very good, food-friendly Riesling. The most telling part of this review: I took a bottle home with me, and it's already empty (see photo, at right).
Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2000 ($21) - This wine serves as study in contrasts when compared to 'Cabs that clobber.' It's about as light and delicate as I've ever found a C.Sauvignon to be. Scents of cedar, red & black cherries, and vanilla. I required to cycles of slurp/swish/spit to come to terms with this skinny sleek wine. It's downright light-bodied, but offers up smooth texture and tame tannins. To all $40 Cabs: "Eat your heart out." I've got to convince a certain someone that this is the perfect wine for beef stroganoff.
Pinot Noir Reserve 2002 ($35) - This was my first Long Island Pinot tasting. The Borghese's did an admirable job with the notoriously difficult P.No grape. It's an interesting wine with scents of cola, ripe strawberries, and something cedar-y/bramble-y. In the mouth, the wine is downright earthy, with subtle - yet persistent tannins. Borghese Pinot comes down on the lighter side of the Pinot fence with a crisp character and slightly spicy finish that begs for seared tuna drizzled with a smidgen of sesame oil.
Cabernet Franc Reserve 2001 ($29) - Smoke + meat + violets. This is how I would describe my initial impression of Borghese's Cab Franc. I also thought I noticed some scents of blood orange (but Lenn & WG looked at me like I was crazy). This wine was easily the most complex and structured of the bunch. Part of that could be the 2-year French oak treatment. Part of that could also be the fact that Merlot is playing the role of secret spice here (about 5%). Thankfully, all this lavishness doesn't result in a gigawine - it's still restrained and crisp enough to handle grandma's pan seared pork chops.