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Hound's Tree winemaker cuts new path for North Fork wines

A spectrum of wines from Hound's Tree Wines,

A spectrum of wines from Hound's Tree Wines, a label from 29-year-old winemaker Alex Rosanelli. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

One can feel serious FOMO (fear of missing out) when wine tasting on the North Fork, unable to fit more than a handful into a day. As you whiz by wineries, at least one label might fly under the radar, given its low-key signage: Hound’s Tree, which announces itself quietly outside Sherwood House Vineyards in Jamesport.

At 4 years old, Hound’s Tree is a toddler as far as labels go, but its wines — racy and vaguely Italian in expression — are polished in a way that suggests serious winemaking chops.

Those come from 29-year-old Alexander Rosanelli, who, in 2015, purchased Sherwood House’s Mattituck vineyards with his uncle, Alfredo Apolloni. With the Sherwood House brand — and its longtime winemaker, Gilles Martin, still intact — Rosanelli became the grower for 30 acres of grapes, and he and Apolloni founded their own label, Hound’s Tree.

Rosanelli had cut his winemaking teeth at his uncle’s Oregon vineyard, Apolloni Vineyards, known for pinot noir; he made his first Hound’s Tree vintage in 2015 using North Fork fruit but employing techniques — such as stainless steel and whole cluster fermentation, indigenous yeasts and some acacia-barrel aging — that take the grapes in new directions. “I like to highlight the purity of the fruit,” said Rosanelli as he poured his wines during a recent tasting.

Inside the comfy 1800s farmhouse that serves as a tasting room, Sherwood House and Hound’s Tree Wines are offered side by side: The former, made by Martin, are elegant, Old World-style chardonnays, pinots, blanc de blancs and more. Hound’s Tree’s, by contrast, feel spirited and not bashful about their acidity, “a restrained, cooler climate, New World style,” Rosanelli said. They start at $22 for a dry rosé, with the remainder — a stainless-steel fermented chardonnay, a merlot, a cabernet sauvignon and a cabernet franc with echoes of the Loire Valley — ringing in at $28.

Three years ago, Rosanelli planted nebbiolo — the grape used to make Piedmont reds such as Barolo — as well as marsanne and roussanne, grapes associated with France’s Rhone Valley which make white wines with heft. “The first vintages will come this fall,” said Rosanelli. This summer, he’ll also open a tasting room in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Williamsburg. “Younger consumers are curious, and like to go out of their comfort zones,” he said.

Hound’s Tree at Sherwood House Vineyards, 1291 Main Rd., Jamesport; 631-779-281, hounds-tree.com

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