Country of Origin: United States of America - North Fork, Long Island (New York)
Founded in 1978, the winery has some of the most mature vineyards in the region, or - given the extensive replanting of California vineyards to avoid further damage from the phylloxera louse - in the country. They have nearly 70 acres planted with these vinifera grape varieties: chardonnay, gewürztraminer, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot, pinot gris and pinot noir.
At Lenz, their philosophy in the vineyard is high-touch. They are interventionists and they intervene, at great cost in time and effort, to micro-manage each vine to ripeness each year. Leaf removal, shoot thinning, cluster thinning, crop reduction, triple catch wires, super-attentive pest and fungus control (their "open canopy" approach keeps fungus problems to a minimum), all combine to add cost (unfortunately) but to ensure fully ripe grapes of the highest quality.
In the winery, their philosophy is low-touch, though not taken to dogmatic extremes. If a wine needs an acid adjustment, it gets it. If reduction threatens a sulphide problem, they fix it. And they use cultured, not wild yeast to start the fermentation. Beyond that, they want the wines to express the character they've brought out in the vineyard by developing full "varietal ripeness".
One important facet of their approach is the "estate" element. All their wines are "estate bottled" which legally means that the wines are made entirely from grapes grown in their own vineyards or vineyards under their own direct care and control. In general the commitment to creating only "estate bottled" wines signifies an approach that eschews winemaking-as-chemistry. They never add concentrates, flavor or coloring, even where it is technically legal to do so.
Fermented dry, their Old Vines Gewurztraminer is a rich, medium-bodied wine with mouthwatering flavors of apricot, fresh pineapple and hints of ginger.
The Old Vines style is intended to emphasize fruit intensity, balance and elegance. They use very limited barrel fermentation and oak-aging tends to be 'neutral,' meaning they only use older barrels that allow the wine to achieve greater complexity and flavor concentration but leave less of an oak fingerprint on the wine. Old Vines Chardonnay is focused on flavors of apple and pear with notes of fig.
Estate Selection - Merlot
Lenz Estate Selection Merlot is made from ripe grapes harvested in mature vineyards. The characteristic flavor profile is deep and rich, full of black cherries and dark red plums, with plenty of soft-and-supple tannins. The final blend is carefully assembled from individual barrel lots as the wine ages -- usually 85-90% merlot with some cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot blended in. The wine is never filtered; nor is it fined.
Old Vine - Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Cabernet Sauvignon is slow to ripen and needs an exceptionally good year to produce an exceptionally good wine. Fortunately, this was the case in 2007. They ferment this wine at much lower temperatures than is usual with hot climate cabernets and blend just enough Old Vines Merlot, malbec and cabernet franc to round out this sumptuous wine. The OV Cabernet Sauvignon is lush and smooth across the palate with flavors of tangy red currants, rich black cherries and creamy raspberries.
'Methode Champenoise' - Cuvee
Their Cuvée is crisp and refreshingly dry. Bright flavors of white and red cherry lead on to a long finish with hints of lime zest to keep your palate busy while you reach for another oyster.
Old Vine - Merlot 2002
Lenz Old Vines Merlot is made from grapes grown in their oldest blocks, planted more than 30 years ago. Their Old Vines Merlot shows classic merlot dark-fruit characters of black plums, black cherries and raspberries. They reserve the Old Vines designation for exceptional vintages that exhibit great depth, complexity and aging potential. These wines are special when they release them but continue to improve in the cellar.