It seemed appropriate on a sparkling August day, after several hours watching the sun sparkling on the water, to check out Sparkling Pointe winery, where they specialize in sparkling wine. And a good choice it was. Using the Méthode Champenoise to make authentic champagne-style wines (which can’t actually be called champagne because only wines from the Champagne region of France can legally bear that title), they have taken Long Island grapes into the realm of luxury wines.
The bright and airy tasting room leads out to a spacious patio area, which they need, since they often get van and busloads of visitors, as we have noted as we have driven by. Just as Croteaux evokes France and Diliberto evokes Italy, Sparkling Pointe evokes Brazil, featuring Bossa Nova nights and paintings of Rio in its tasting room. According to a server on a previous visit, the owners happen to “love the culture” of Brazil. The winery also tries to promote an air of elegance, with crystal chandeliers on the ceiling and caviar on the fairly extensive snack menu. Once, when we came on Halloween, all the servers were in fancy dress, either tuxedos or ball gowns. The snack menu, which needs to be somewhat extensive since they have a note on the door politely informing guests that they no longer allow outside food, also includes charcuterie, various cheeses, olives, and more, as well as iced tea, Pellegrino, and something called Vita Coco Coconut Water from Brazil. We have goodies waiting at home, so we decide to just do two tastings, one for our son and another we will share, at $17 for four tastes in pretty champagne flutes. Although they have more than four wines, they decide on the menu of tastings each day. Oh, and you can add a chocolate pairing for an additional $10.
Our server knows his stuff, and seems quite enthusiastic, but he is also taking care of a couple of larger parties out on the patio and seems somewhat distracted, rushing back and forth. Fortunately, we are not in a hurry.
- 2009 Brut $29
This is their “signature” wine, a blend of 59% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, and 5% reserve wine. I want to ask the server what “reserve wine” means, though I assume it is wine left over from other years, but he has disappeared and I forget when he returns. We like the Brut better than on a past visit. It has a somewhat doughy smell, with some notes of not-ripe melon, or maybe pear. It is a light, dry champagne, with some residual sugar and a hint of grapefruit. While I wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, as in a toast, it would be a lovely aperitif wine with nuts or soft cheese.
2. 2008 Blanc de Blancs $42 (Magnum $93)
On the other hand, I would happily drink a toast with this wine. After a year on the lees, this 100% Chardonnay wine has a somewhat funky mineral aroma but is creamy to taste, and reminds me of a Granny Smith apple pie. Nicely dry, but with good fruit, I could also see this paired with some Crescent Farms duck breast. and my son agrees. It is better than most $20 champagnes one buys.
3. 2003 Brut Seduction $60
Another blend, this one is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, and spent eight years on the lees, according to our server. One nicety—each taste is poured into a fresh glass. Here we smell dirt and mushrooms, but taste raspberry and lemon curd. One could definitely sip this on its own and be very happy. The tasting notes refer to its “organoleptic profile,” which occasions some hilarity in our little party. Look it up.
4. NV Cuvée Carnaval $27
Our server has poured our final taste before we finished the one before, and left, noting that he won’t be back, a fistful of glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, so I miss whatever he said about this wine, as I was concentrating on the previous one and comparing notes with my son. This wine combines Merlot and Chardonnay, plus 4% Gewürztraminer, which probably accounts for some of its sweetness. We smell strawberry jam and taste mango and cherry. It wouldn’t be bad with a dessert like a flourless chocolate cake, and, for a sweet wine, has some nice minerality, so I like it better than I thought I would. If you didn’t have Chateau d’Yquem, my husband notes, you could substitute this. Well, maybe…
After we finish our last wine, we stand at the bar waiting to pay for our tastings, our server, as promised, having disappeared. A gentleman comes over and asks us if we are waiting to buy a bottle. No, we say, just waiting to pay for our tastings. He thanks us for our patience, and tells us the tastings are free! Nice gesture, which somewhat makes up for our harried server’s divided attentions.
Reasons to visit: you like champagne—um, I mean, sparkling wine; you want to see what a North Fork winery can do with sparkling wines; you want caviar with your champ…sparkling wine; the Blanc de Blancs (my favorite); Bossa Nova nights.