The last time we went to Jamesport Vineyards it had been to simply have a glass of wine and a plate of oysters, not a bad reason to visit as they are very well set up for that (more on the oysters later), but we felt it was time to do a complete tasting. The tasting room is in a 150-year-old barn, and is half bar and half a view through large windows into the wine-making operation. Though the room itself is small they have lots of space outside, and we see large groups immediately ushered to the outdoor space. They have a few t-shirts and other items for sale. Our server presents us with a list, but gives very little additional guidance, so we are left to decide for ourselves what to taste. A tasting is 5 wines for $13, and they have 13 wines in all, so we decide to share two tastings so we can sample 10 of their wines, which are served in attractive round-bottomed glasses. We skip the Rosé, the Pinot Noir, and the East End Cabernet Franc. We also notice that the list of bottles for sale is not exactly the same as the tasting list.
- 2011 Reserve Chardonnay $21.95
Our server informs us that this spends “a little bit” of time in oak and the rest in steel, so it is not too buttery, and she is right, though perhaps it could have used more time in oak, as it is very lemony and tart. The aroma is of wood and spice, and while not unpleasant we find it too citrusy.
2.East End Cinq Blanc $16.95
My high school French reminds me that cinq=five, and indeed, this wine is made from 5 grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc (in unknown proportions). The bottle has an attractive picture of a scallop shell, so we turn it around to read that this wine is made, as they say, “…in partnership with the SPAT (Southold Project in Aquaculture Training) program. This Cornell Cooperative/Community-based partnership encompasses an initiative to teach residents how to raise their own shellfish in the bays of the East End. The large scallop shell on the label pays homage to the bounty of the North Fork’s bays and creeks.” Fittingly, we feel this wine would go very well with local oysters! I detect an aroma of piney woods and a lovely crisp taste of gooseberries with some citrus at the finish. Very buyable!
3. 2012 Sauvignon Blanc $24.95
“This is my favorite white,” enthuses our server, and if she likes pineapple that would explain why. We like it too, but not as much as the Cinq, though it would also be good with oysters. An aroma again of pine forest precedes a taste with lots of pineapple, and maybe some pine, too.
4. 2010 Riesling $25.95
Off dry? Not really. An aroma of petrol, they say? We say cardamom, and we also say too sweet, and we also say time to dump the rest of the glass.
5. 2008 East End Merlot $16.95
Moving on to the reds, we start with their merlot, which we quite like, also. Aromas of blueberry and cinnamon, tastes of cherry and berry, and no earth means we’re happy. Some tannins, and the end is a bit sour. This is also buyable.
6. 2005 Estate Merlot Block E $??? (not on bottle list)
We smell minerals and wood, taste some cherry, but it is very dry and has no finish to speak of. Just eh.
7. 2007 Cabernet Franc $29.95
This is a relatively simple Cab, though with a nice long finish. Some cherry aromas, but not much smell at all, and nicely dry with good fruit.
8. 2007 Mèlange de Trois $29.95
Their Bordeaux blend, this is an amalgam of 49%Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 26% Cabernet Franc. Although there’s not much aroma, the taste is delicious, like ripe purple plums and what I believe are called “chewy tannins.” Whatever. It’s good!
9. 2007 Jubilant Reserve $44.95
Another blend, and this is a wow: 68%Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Syrah, and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Yum. Aroma of dried figs, lots of complex ripe fruit tastes, and a lovely finish. Happy tongue. This would go great with a Porterhouse steak from Wayside Market.
10. 2007 Sidor Reserve $44.95
62% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 9%Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot—They do like their blends here. And justifiably so! This is not as good as the Jubilant, but still really good, with nice tannins , dry, but lots of fruit, with an aroma of cedar and ripe figs.
I note one wine on the bottle list which goes for $100, pretty unusual for the North Fork.
We pay for our tastings and then move outside to the attractive stone bar, behind which are two people, a drink server and an oyster opener. We get a glass of the Cinq to share for $8 with a plate of a dozen oysters for $22. If you get them, get the cocktail sauce and grated horseradish, not because the oysters need any embellishment, but because both sauces are very good, especially the horseradish. They also offer some beers on tap and Margarita pizzas. A singer provides entertainment to the various groups scattered around the grounds at picnic tables. We sit on a cushioned bench at a small wooden table across from the bar and enjoy our treat. The oysters a bit small, but very fresh, with lots of liquid, and the wine goes perfectly with them.
Reasons to visit: you want to have a glass of wine and a plate of oysters; the East End Cinq Blanc, the East End Merlot, the Mélange de Trois, the Jubilant, and the Sidor; you want to sit outside and listen to music; you want to support SPAT.