After a 28-mile morning bike ride, we are ready for some refreshment, and so we head to the Lenz Winery, on the main road, one of a row of wineries. They have an attractive barn-like tasting room, as well as some outside tables, and they sell some of the art that is on their walls as well as a small selection of wine-related tchatchkas. A chalk board suggests one ask about their cheese tray, but we don’t. There are two tasting menus, the Estate wines, 6 for $10, and the Premium wines, 5 for $14. Being good at sharing, we order one of each, and our well-informed and bright server asks if we would like him to coordinate them so we can taste the wines in groups. We do!
The first round consists of three wines, the 2010 Blanc de Noir ($15), the 2006 Cuvee ($30) and the 2008 Gewurztraminer ($20).
1) The Blanc de Noir is a rose, with a sweet beginning and a tart finish, and a taste of green tomatoes. It would work with oysters.
2) Champagne! The 06 Cuvee is a methode champagnoise sparking wine that is quite good. They use pinot noir grapes. Although the aroma reminds us of cut grass that has been left in a pile for too long, the flavor is dry and good, with notes of green apple. This wine, the server tells us, is aged for 6 months.
3) In the past we have liked their gewurz, but this one does not thrill us. Neither here nor there, is one comment. Some sweetness, some spice, a bit of ginger.
The second grouping lets us compare three chardonnays. I love this type of tasting, since it is always so fascinating to see how the same grape can be so different depending on how it is treated.
4) 08 White Label Chardonnay $12
This mostly steel fermented chard has a honeysuckle aroma, and though it is a bit sweet is is nicely balanced and not too citrusy. Very buyable!
5) Gold Label Chardonnay $20
This is an oak-aged chard, and has the expected vanilla/caramel notes with a roast pear aroma. It starts tart and ends a bit acidic. Though it has a bit too much flavor for simple foods, it might be really good with a seafood in cream sauce dish.
6) Old Vines Chardonnay $25
“Old vines” because the vines are 25 years old, this variety is “only made when we have good grapes,” we are told. This is in the tradition of a white Burgundy, with flavors of spice, pears, and some vanilla. Excellent!
Now we move on to the reds, with a grouping of two cabernet sauvignons and a merlot/cab sauv blend, again facilitating fascinating comparisons.
7) 08 Cabernet Sauvignon $23
The aroma reminds us of one of our favorite NoFo treats: Briermere blackberry pie! Soft, simple, and uncomplicated, this would make a pleasant sipping wine. Good!
8) 08 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (plus other grapes) blend $17
Another right bank Bordeaux. We feel this could use more time to age, as it is very soft and dry, with no aroma. Not bad for an everyday Bordeaux, however.
9) 2002 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon $40
Yum! The server tells us this wine has had 10 years in the bottle to “calm down,” an interesting way to put it. He also says it could sit another 10-15 years, but we doubt that. We go on to have a discussion of the cabernet sauvignon grape, which, he says, has thicker skins than other grapes, and so needs more time to ripen, meaning that it is also more subject to the vagaries of weather and thus more difficult to work with. They’ve done a good job with this one, which has lots of fruit, an interestingly complicated aroma, but not much tannin. Though expensive, this could be worth the price.
The last grouping pairs two merlots.
10) 07 Estate Select Merlot $23
How can a wine smell like coconut suntan lotion? I don’t know, but this one does! Though it is dry, we taste lots of fruit and sense plenty of tannins. We like this one, and buy two bottles, one for a friend and one for us.
11) 02 Old Vines Merlot $55
We sense some of the earthy terroir aroma of the Long Island merlot, but only a little. Again, this is dry, with tastes of black cherry and chocolate. Though good, we don’t think it is worth the price.
Reasons to visit: some good reds, especially the Old Vines Cab and the Estate Select Merlot; the chance to do some comparative tastings across grape types; the Old Vines Chard.