Variety: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Region: North Fork, New York
Cost: $28 (SRP)
Winemaker’s Notes: La Fontana is our Bordeaux blend comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, & Petit Verdot. This is a balanced, full bodied wine full of complexity and flavor, softened by velvety tannins. Our reserve grapes used to produce this wine are hand harvested, hand sorted and wild fermented. Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels before blending and bottling unfiltered and unfined
My Review: I’ll admit that I was excited to open this one. As a fan of Bordeaux blends, I was curious to see how a region that’s (relatively) new to me would show this mix of grapes. It was certainly different than I’m used to, though not in a bad way (spoilers). That being said, part of why I continue to write on this site nearly 15 years later is because of my unending desire to see how terroir can have such a large impact on the grapes we’re all so familiar with.
In the glass, the 2017 La Fontana from Raphael Winery was a light garnet red. On the nose the wine was bright and tart, with tart cherry aromas that called to mind Cabernet Franc to me. On the palate the wine was tart and clean, with flavors of ripe red fruit, dried herbs, and earth.
The surprising part for me was how light the wine was. While I wasn’t expecting a big wine, it was much lighter than I had anticipated. The combination of the grapes and the time in oak (18 months) had me expecting something bigger, bolder, and fuller. That being said, when paired with a dinner that included steaks that had been marinated overnight in a combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt, garlic, and a good bit of lemon, the lighter wine ended up being a good compliment to the food; I think had it been as big (or bigger) than I was expecting it may have actually overwhelmed the steak (as hard as that can be).
Most of New York wine experience has been concentrated in the Finger Lakes area, with it’s light, earthy Pinot Noir and dry Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Getting to try a Bordeaux Blend from the North Fork region was a fun new experience, and definitely one I recommend.
Disclosure: I received this wine as a free sample for review.