How did Maiden + Liberty start and who is on the team now?
Established by husband and wife duo – James and Alexandra Medwick – the two started Maiden + Liberty in March 2015. Alexandra – who was raised in Pezenas, France near the city of Montpellier in the Languedoc region – comes from a family steeped in the world of wine. Both her mother and father work with wineries in the Languedoc region where her mother is head of a private sales at Daumas Gassac, the first winery to convince people a grand cru level wine could be made in that region. Alexandra’s father also works in distribution for local French winery Domaine de Blanville. James – whose family hails from Manhasset, Long Island – learned the art of winemaking through Alexandra’s friends and family. James and Alexandra met in NYC during her U.S. study abroad in 2006. Shortly after marrying in 2009, they began experimenting to see if the wines from each of their homelands could complement each other and bring forth a wine greater than the sum of its parts. It did, and their unique French-American blends were born.
In addition to James and Alexandra, the company is currently run by James' sister Julia, Director Marketing and Sales, and father Craig, Senior Advisor, along with a tremendous amount of help and support from the rest of their family including his mother Rosalie, sister Jennifer and brother John. They even had the pleasure of their cousin Claudia intern for them between school semesters. It's truly a family-run business.
What are some blends that M+L currently offers?
Right now, we offer two different French-American blends: a red and a white. The red blend sources Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (66 2/3% of total blend) from the North Fork region of Long Island, and Syrah and Grenache (33 1/3% of total blend) from the Languedoc region of France. It has an ABV of 13.9% and is aged 100% in oak with about 10% of it in new oak. The full-bodied white blend is crafted from Chardonnay and Viognier grapes (75% of total blend) from the North Fork, and Macabeu and Vermentino (25% of total blend) from the Languedoc, with an ABV of 12.8%. It’s aged 75% in stainless steel and 25% in old oak.
How do the blends taste?
French-American White Blend: Full bodied and full of complexity. Aromas of honeyed peach and apricot are layered with floral notes. Incredibly long finish.
French-American Red Blend:Full bodied with soft tannins. Aromas of black cherry, cassis (black current) and plum. Smooth, pleasant texture.
What are the best food pairings for these blends?
Our White Blend is great with lobster along with other rich seafood plates. The Red Blend is very food friendly in a versatile way, but is especially good with hamburgers, chicken dishes, and Italian food. We do not consciously set out with a pairing in mind, but we do insist that our wines be well balanced and food friendly.
Do you make any other wines and how do they taste?
Yes we certainly do. We are very proud of our Long Island Chardonnay, French Rosé and French Cabernet Sauvignon.
French Rosé: A full bodied and complex rosé that maintains a healthy freshness. It has aromas of red cherry and raspberry. Watch for the delightful long finish.
How are you sourcing wines from the Languedoc regions, and you from the New York region? Are you working with specific vineyards?
James and Alexandra source together and work work with friends and family who own and operate vineyards and wineries in the Languedoc, and do the same with Long Island. The connections come from Alexandra in the Languedoc, and from James in NY, but we work together on everything. We do work with specific vineyards on an ongoing basis. We are about building long term relationships.
Merlot, Cab Sauv, Syrah, and Grenache is a really unusual blend. How did you arrive at this final blend?
We focused on the varietals that perform best in each region. For me, that is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (and Cabernet Franc too, but it’s not in the blend) for Long Island and Syrah and Grenache for the south of France. We tinkered with a few variations, but this one came out head and shoulders above the others. The Long Island Merlot gives beautiful, generous fruit, and the Cabernet Sauvignon gives gravitas, as does the Syrah, which also adds a bit of spice and “garrigue” and the Grenache adds “garrigue”, fruit and bumps nudges the alcohol level slightly higher.
How are the wines aged, together as a blend or separately? How do you get them to your facility in Mattituck?
Both. We believe in vinification by lot, so each lot is given a tailored treatment. They are often aged separately to begin, but are blended and aged together after blending as well. Once the French grapes are chosen, we then ship the grapes already fermented to our facility in Mattituck, NY where they are blended, cellared and bottled. The alcohol from the fermentation process preserves them for the journey.
Any specific blending/winemaking techniques you are using to arrive at the final wine?
There’s no special technique, just the ability to taste and to imagine how different combinations will come together.
Where can people currently find them?
Our wines are currently sold in various retail locations throughout the Tri-State area, along with placements on restaurant wine lists from White Plains, NY to Manhasset, NY. We are looking to continue expanding first in the north east, then nationwide. You can find a full list of retail and restaurant locations here.