Friends often ask me, “What’s the best vineyard on the North Fork?” My general answer is, “It depends on what you like.” However, probably the best all-around vineyard is Pellegrini, for several reasons. It is large enough so that if you go with a group you will be able to find a table where you can all sit together. It is small enough so that you can stand at the bar and have a good conversation about the wines with the servers. Both the whites and the reds are good, though we tend to prefer their reds, which we feel are better than the general run of reds. It does lack the somewhat frenetic party atmosphere of some places, however, and they tend to focus on the wines rather than agritainment. Oh, and many of the wines are reasonably priced for the North Fork.
Pellegrini is also good for a group because if you like you can mark your selections on a clearly laid out menu that is also a map telling you in what order to drink the wines (top to bottom, left to right) and take the tray to a table outside overlooking the vineyards, which we did. One of the friends in our group of eight had brought along bread and cheese and hummus, so we had a lovely afternoon tasting, laughing, and snacking.
The tasting menu has a variety of options. The Bar Tasting is $6 and gives you three one-ounce pours which you can choose from a menu of ten wines to be drunk at the bar. The Flight Tasting is $12, and gives you three two-ounce pours, plus a one-ounce “complimentary” pour of their rosé, chosen from 13 options, which you then take to a table. There’s also a Vintner’s Flight for $14, four one-ounce pours of higher-priced wines, and a Wine and Chocolate Flight for $16 for four reds plus chocolates.
As wine club members, we were entitled to four free Flight tastings, which worked perfectly, since all the couples were happy to share. Since we belong to the only-red-wine category of the club, we decided to taste some of their whites. Amongst the group, we tried quite a few wines, so I’ll be adding in some notes from other people as well.
- East End Select Rosé $14.99
This is the “complimentary” taste, a steel-fermented blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. As usual, we compared it to Croteaux’s rosés, and it is good, but not as good. It has lots of the strawberry aroma and taste one expects in a rosé, but not much else. Our friend characterized it as a “meet and greet” wine, nice to have at a barbeque on a sunny day.
2. 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Gewürztraminer $19.99
I detect some of that cat pee smell which Gewürztraminer often has. We taste honey, but it is not too sweet, with some nice fruity notes.
3, 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Stainless Steel Chardonnay $19.99
Nice crisp apple taste, but a bit too sweet is the word on this one. We still prefer the Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.
4. 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Medley White $21.99
Another steel-fermented wine, this one is a blend of 59% Sauvignon Blanc and 41% Chardonnay. I get a mineral aroma, perhaps of wet rock. It tastes fine, however, with a balance of sweet and acid, with perhaps too much sourness at the end.
I have a few notes on other wines from my friends. Meanwhile, the non-drinker in the group had this to say, as he watched us carefully sip and discuss each taste, “If people chose their mates as carefully as they taste wine, there would be fewer divorces.”
5. 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Petit Verdot $39.99
As I’ve said, we like their reds, and this, as Rod Serling used to say, is a case in point. A blend of 93% Petit Verdot, 6$ Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak for 20 months, this is a lovely wine, and the favorite of the group. It is somewhat earthy and leathery, but quite richly fruited.
6. 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Cabernet Franc $23.99
My friend sniffs and says, “Coffee, chocolate, pepper!” Those elements are in the taste as well, plus lots of cherry. She’d like it with pizza which, since she makes her own, is high praise.
7. 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon $24.99
This one, according to the group, is a bit too acidic to drink on its own, but would be good with food. Nice berry flavors with some peppery notes at the end.
8. 2010 Vintner’s Pride Encore $49.99
Another blend, this one is 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Petit Verdot. Light and fruity, everyone says, and dry, with basically no finish.
After the tastes, one friend buys a bottle of the Petit Verdot, which we happily share as we munch on Catapano Farms goat cheese and enjoy the cool and sunny late summer afternoon.
Reasons to visit: good all-around winery, good reds, pleasant atmosphere, good for a group or for just a couple, the Petit Verdot.