This is our first side-by-side pairing, of two chardonnays.
After a good two-hour bike ride and before a visit to Greenport to see the Maritime Festival and the Peconic Plein-Air art exhibit, we stop at Sannino Bella Vita winery, formerly Ackerly Pond, on Peconic Lane. This is a small winery on a side street, so, though there are plenty of people here, it is not the madhouse some of the bigger wineries on the main road can be, especially in the fall. Live music is quietly provided by a flautist and a guitar player, and one of the guests outside on the little patio is swaying to the music.
Mr. Sannino is also a contractor, as well as a wine-maker, and he bought out Ackerly Ponds and combined their wines with his own, so you can taste both styles side by side if you like.
The full tasting, which includes all 9 wines, is $15. You can also opt for a half tasting for $8 or a premium tasting of three special wines for $8. We go for one full tasting, which we will share. (There’s also a pitcher of sangria on offer, for $3 per glass, and a cheese tray for $15.) The servers use a spout, so the pour is a carefully calibrated one ounce.
1) 06 Ackerley Pond Riesling $18.99
This is a very tart riesling, with tastes of lime and green apple and a thin mouth feel. This would probably be better with food, and actually might be fun to cook with, like with a fish in a wine and cream sauce dish. Tasting it blind, one would probably not guess it was a riesling.
Our lovely server asks if we would like to taste the next two chardonnays side by side, as one is an Ackerly Pond (AP) and the other a Bella Vita (BV). We say yes, and she fetches a second glass, and we note that the glasses are etched with the name of each vineyard, so we can keep track of which is which. Nice touch.
2) 09Bella Vita Chardonnay $20
Steel fermented and light, this chard has lots of citrus flavor, but is just okay.
3) 06 AP Chardonnay $14.99
In contrast, the AP chard spent several months in oak, and the vanilla flavor of oak is there, but not very strongly, as well as citrus, but not a lot of depth. There’s also a faintly metallic aroma.
Here comes another pairing!
4) 2011 BV Merlot Bianca $20
This is a white wine made from the merlot grape, as the name suggests, given no contact with the skins. Interesting tang. The aroma is of slightly over-ripe fruit, though not in an unpleasant way, and the taste reminds us of an unripe peach.
5) 2010 BV Snow Merlot $15
Basically a rose, this is a light, not complex, but pleasantly interesting wine, with side of the tongue sweetness and some strawberry flavor.
And a third pairing…
6) 04 AP Merlot $19.99
This is our favorite so far, a dry red with a lovely chocolate aroma, and lots of plum and berry taste, with a faint mintiness and none of that earthy terroir of the North Fork.
7) 2010 BV Merlot $30
Aged for a year in oak, this wine has a faint red candy aroma and nice plum flavors. Again, no dirt! This is also good, but a bit pricey for the quality.
8) 06 AP Cabernet Sauvignon $27.99
We detect an aroma of oak. Another fairly un-complex wine, with a thin mouth feel.
9) 2010 BV Spiced Wine $13
Served warm! We decide this spiced wine, made with cabernet sauvignon and other wines and flavored with cinnamon and similar spices, would be very nice on a cold winter’s night, especially if one were in a hot tub. It reminds us of the Swedish drink Glogg (Imagine an umlaut over the o.). The server notes that it would also be good if one added orange slices and cranberries to the glass. Yes, it would.
Though we don’t buy any bottles, if we did need more red we’d buy the 04 AP Merlot.
Reasons to visit: Intimate setting, ability to meet the owner (who has been there each of the three times we’ve visited), the ability to make interesting comparisons between two different styles of wine-making. They also run a wine club in which one can make one’s own wine from their grapes.