Charles Roy studied civil engineering, but he redesigned himself as a business-center magnate and then a winery owner. In 1981, after a career in engineering, Roy opened his first business center of executive suites in Morristown; he and his wife, Shirley, expanded this new concept into 14 more locations in New Jersey and Virginia. They sold their business in 1998 and retired, or so they thought.
The following year, they purchased a 42-acre property in Napa with the intention of planting a vineyard to sell the grapes and enjoy retirement. Then the best of intentions were soiled, so to speak.
Acclaimed winemaker Helen Turley and the highly regarded Pina Vineyard Management company told the Roys the rocky soil on their property was ideal for producing exceptional-quality fruit, and they should make their own estate wine instead of selling the grapes. But Justin Meyer, one of Napa Valley’s legendary winemakers, told Roy, “If you want to enjoy retirement, sell the fruit.”
The Roys went with Turley’s advice, and that ended their retirement.
Roy Estate produces two red wines: proprietary red and cabernet sauvignon. The 2005 vintage was the first Roy Estate wine that Bordeaux-born-and-trained winemaker Philippe Melka made. Earlier this year, I tasted both during the Roys’ visit to our market and was impressed by the flavors and balance of the wines. They had California’s rich fruit and Bordeaux-like balance. Elegance describes both 2005 wines.
Retirement a distant dream, Charles Roy returned last month to present his 2006 cabernet sauvignon and proprietary red wines. For the 2006 proprietary red, Melka blended 82 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot and 3 percent petit verdot. This blend resembles the classic mix of Bordeaux’s renowned Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe appellations. Decanted, the wine gradually reveals its herbal and black fruit aromas; its medium body holds a very pleasing mélange of mildly toasted oak, black tea and blackberry flavors with supporting tannins. Like the 2005 proprietary red, this vintage is elegant from the first sip and remained that way over the hour-and-a-half dinner.
Melka’s 2006 cabernet sauvignon is a blend of 90 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent petit verdot. Its coffee and tobacco-like aromas are instantly appealing and like the proprietary red, it has a very elegant texture of ripe fruit flavors and integrated tannins. Both wines clearly displayed Melka’s Bordeaux heritage.
Because Shirley Roy was born and raised in New Jersey and their former business was based in Morristown, this is one of the few states where the wines are offered. Only 1,000 six-bottle cases were made of the 2006 proprietary red and half that amount of the 2006 cabernet sauvignon. Choosing one over the other is a matter only of taste preference and price. And remember your own cellar when thinking about giving the 2006 proprietary red as a gift.