Truro Vineyards, Cape Cod, July 2009

When we last visited Truro Vineyards, we went quite by accident. Lyndsey and I were vacationing on a pleasant campground near North Truro with friends of ours when we happened upon the winery. As I recall, we were driving to the campsite for the first time when we noticed the sign for Truro Vineyards on Rt. 6. Intrigued, we took a break from our trip and proceeded on a tour of the vineyard and winery, followed by a tasting of most of the wines being produced, all 2005 or 2006 vintages: Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, barrel-fermented Chardonnay, their estate-grown version of the same, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and their flagship, a “Triumph” blend in the true Bordeaux style – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. While decent, these wines demonstrated the raw youth of the vineyard itself, and were not particularly integrated, balanced, or memorable overall.

This year, however, the situation proved quite different. Whichever cause was most to praise – improved equipment, more mature vines, higher quality sources for grapes, or simply better handling – the wines we tasted here just this past weekend while on vacation were remarkably more intense, more focused, and more polished than they were a mere two years before. The 2007 Cabernet Franc and 2006 “Triumph” blend in particular held my attention, while Lyndsey was very pleased with the unoaked 2007 Chardonnay. And with that said, on to my tasting notes:

2007 Truro Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay: A pale gold in the glass, good clarity. Shows wonderful green apple and citrus notes on the nose, with hints of vanilla. More apples in the mouth, with tropical hints like guava, and definite vanilla. Moderate aging in oak has left this wine crisp and refreshing, more like a Burgundy from the Mâcon-Villages than what I expect from domestic Chardonnay, let alone a new producer in Cape Cod. Delightful; Lyndsey’s favorite! Enjoy now with grilled swordfish or trout. Or cod. From Cape Cod. $15.99.

2007 Truro Vineyards Estate-bottled Chardonnay: Also golden in the glass, slightly deeper in color than the unoaked, with juicy green apple, pear, vanilla and butterscotch aromas, followed by a rich, soft mouthful of layered apple and toasty vanilla, and a long finish. They definitely let the small American oak barrels have their say in fermentation and aging, and this one comes across more like a California wine than the first. Quite tasty, although I prefer my Chardonnay in its lean, mean (Chablis) iterations. Slam this sucker down with any pasta with a buttery cream sauce or lightly herbed roast chicken. $15.99.

2007 Truro Vineyards Cabernet Franc: This wine is apparently the signature varietal produced by Truro Vineyards, and I do see why. I found it the most distinct, focused and delicious wine of the bunch. None of the juice for this wine is sourced; the grapes are handpicked before being turned into wine using the traditional Loire approach – crushing and fermenting in open vats for maximum color, flavor and tannin extraction, followed by 20 months aging in American oak. A lovely pale ruby in the glass, notes of ripe red berries, vegetal earthiness, and a touch of violet. In the mouth this wine shows good balance, with a fruit core of dark cherries and redcurrants against firm tannins leaving a briary impression, lively acidity, and a touch of graphite or pencil shavings toward the finish, which was just plain wonderful. My favorite wine of the visit; pairs well with roast beef, venison, or duck. $15.99.

2006 Truro Vineyards Maritime Red: Much improved from its last showing in 2007, this wine made us pause; Lyndsey and I both decided after just moments that we enjoyed it. This is the proprietary winemaker’s blend of 64% Merlot and 36% Zinfandel, fermented in open vats and then aged 18 months in American oak barrels. The result? A fruity workhorse that shows garnet red in the glass, wafting aromas of juicy red candied cherries, currants, and black pepper, with more red and darker fruit in the mouth that get swept up in a tannic rush to a long finish. Spicy. Versatile. Try this one with a whole bunch of hearty pasta dishes, grilled steaks, or maybe sausage and mushroom pizza. $16.99.

2007 Truro Vineyards “Triumph”: This is their premiere presentation, the flagship wine, the Meritage, the Claret, the Cantos. Bold, yet elegant. Refined, yet racy. Tasty, yet tasty. A Bordeaux-style blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in American oak. Clear ruby in the glass, with rich aromas of blackcurrant and plums on the nose, leading to a mouth rich in supple tannin and dry black fruits like cassis against a backdrop of almost tangible smokiness. Pairs with filet mignon, herbed roasted lamb, or hard cheeses. $19.99.

One final note, however: stay away from anything with a “Lighthouse” name; those wines are actually in lighthouse-shaped bottles, and are meant for casual (read: tourist) consumption.

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