Laurel Lake Vineyards: Cold Day, Cold Wine 11/22/14

http://www.llwines.com/

Some customers browsed the selection of wine-related gifts.

Some customers browsed the selection of wine-related gifts.

After braving the cold winds to do some pre-holiday shopping at Tanger Outlets, we were ready to sit down and taste some wines.  Happily, Laurel Lake is well set up to accommodate those who prefer to sit rather than stand at their very attractive bar.  You pay for your tasting in advance–$15 for three tastes—and get tickets which you then turn in before each glass.  The menu offers choices among eight whites and eight reds, so we decided to do two tastings, three of each, sharing as we went.  Since the pour is fairly generous, our plan worked well.  We received two glasses, and kept the second glass for our reds.

laurel

As we sat, we noticed a few groups who had brought extensive snacks with them.  One couple braved the heated outdoor porch, and others opted to stand at the bar.  We also noticed a small selection of wine-related gift items, most with humorous messages.  Overall it was a quiet day there, in contrast to a few weeks ago when we pulled into the parking lot and found no empty spaces because a convention of Corvettes had taken them all.

The bar where we could have stood.

The bar where we could have stood.

  1. 2013 Pinot Gris                 $21.99

This, our first choice, like all the rest, was served much too cold, so we spent some time warming the glass before sampling.  They need to raise the temp in their fridge!  Once it warmed up, we smelled a vegetable aroma, almost like freshly cut grass and flowers.  The taste was dry and tart, with a touch of sweetness at first, reminiscent of a slightly under-ripe pineapple.  Though not a sipper, it would be fine with food.  I’m thinking local scallops with pasta and herbs.

laurel white

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $20.99

For this one, the tasting notes recommend having it with sushi, and I can see that, though I usually get sake with sushi.  It has a woodsy and citrusy aroma and tastes of white grapefruit.  Again, this is a dry white with plenty of acidity, and we liked it.

  1. 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve $22.99

We skip their un-oaked chard and are very happy with our choice to sample this one.   It spends 10 months in French oak, the notes tell us (The problem with sitting is that we don’t get to chat with the servers.), giving it the characteristic vanilla scent of oaked chards.  However, it is not too heavily oaked, with a lovely mellow almost creamy taste and a nice long vanilla finish.  Very buyable, we decide—and we do.

We bought this one.

We bought this one.

  1. 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve $29.99

Interestingly, this is stainless steel fermented and then aged in used French oak barrels for 12 months.  My husband says the smell reminds him of a warm blanket on a cold day.  I think he may just be tired after all that shopping and this is just wishful thinking, since I would describe the aroma as mainly blackberry.  In any event, this is a light pleasant red, with cherry and plum flavors.  The notes call it “rich and fleshy,” but we say “not so much.”

laurel bottles

  1. 2010 Cabernet Franc $19.99

Nice aromas of pepper and cedar and maybe grape jam precede tastes that we decide are nice but not exciting, with some good fruit but not much finish.

The pour is fairly generous.

The pour is fairly generous.

  1. 2011 Syrah $19.99

This is my favorite of the reds we try.  It has lots of dark berry aromas and tastes of purple plums, with a bit of a vegetable taste on the finish—or maybe kumquat.  The tannins cause a slight tingle on the tongue.  If we needed reds, I would buy it.

You can see the large heated porch through the windows.

You can see the large heated porch through the windows.

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room where you can bring a picnic; the 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve and the 2011 Syrah; most of the wines are reasonably priced (for the North Fork); lots of choices; a generous pour.

 

The building is quite attractive.

The building is quite attractive.

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Paumanok Vineyards: Inspired by Walt… 11/2/14

https://www.paumanok.com/

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Whitman, that is, who liked to use the Native American name for Long Island—Paumanok—in his poems.  The Massoud family owns and runs the vineyard, with all three sons playing active roles, as we discovered when we chatted with our server, Salim Massoud, who agreed that he very much resembles a cartoon image of his father we noticed on the wall.  The tasting room is pleasant and a comfortable size—not too big, not too small (they require large or limo parties to reserve in advance)—plus there is an outdoor deck.  The last time we were here, just before Superstorm Sandy, we sat out on the deck and had oysters with a glass of wine, but this time it is too chilly.  They also offer a menu of local cheeses (from Catapano and Mecox), charcuterie, and dishes from The Petulant Wino, and do not allow outside food or drinks.

View of the deck--the day was sunny but quite blustery.

View of the deck–the day was sunny but quite blustery.

The tasting menu offers a number of options:  the Festival Flight of 4 wines for $6, two of which are sweet; the Paumanok Flight of 5 wines for $15; the Single Vineyard flight of 2 wines for $10, and the Sweets Flight of 3 sweet wines for $10.  We decide we will each get a Paumanok flight, and then share a Single Vineyard flight.  All their wines, by the way, come in screw top bottles, which some feel is the future of all wines.

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As we carefully sniff and sip and I take notes, another couple at the tasting bar becomes interested.  This is their first time at a tasting, and their server does a great job of gently introducing them to the mores of this rather ritualized activity.  He asks carefully about their preferences, and customizes a tasting for them.  We explain that smelling the wine adds another element of appreciation, and agree with their server that how wine tastes is both a subjective and an objective matter.

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  1. 2012 Chardonnay                            $24

This is a slightly oaked chard, so we sniff and note butterscotch.  Taste?  Oak, melon, maybe kiwi, with tart citrus at the end.  Not too buttery, and also not a sipper, but we could see having this with chicken fajitas or grilled tuna.

  1. 2013 Dry Riesling $22

When my husband asks if these grapes come from upstate, Salim proudly notes that all of their wines are made from their own grapes.  We smell honeysuckle, and the wine is fairly dry, with some complexity.  Layers of fruit and tart, I think, with some tastes of Seville oranges.  Not long ago I made turkey Weiner Schnitzel, and I think this would have gone very well with that.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $24

Because of the difficulties of the 2012 harvest, Salim notes, this has ended up being a very light cabernet franc.  In fact, if he hadn’t told us this, we might not have guessed it was a cab franc at all.  It has a strawberry aroma, like a rosé, no depth and little fruit.  I suggest if one had a bottle of this on one’s hands one could make sangria.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $24

Although it is also a 2012, the cab sauv is much better, with slight berry aroma and ripe plum taste, dry, with nice tannins.  I decide it would go well with Swedish meatballs, which I recently made for a party.

We liked the merlot.

We liked the merlot.

  1. 2010 Merlot $28

Clearly the menu saved the best for last.  This is a good example of a typical Long Island merlot, with a woodsy and cherry aroma and a cherry taste.  No dirt!

Nice glasses, too.

Nice glasses, too.

  1. 2010 Merlot Tuthills Lane $75

Believe it or not, I think this smells like a bandaid.  On the other hand, it tastes really good, with lots of cherry flavors, dry, but, despite what they describe as “voluminous tannins,” we don’t sense much in the way of tannins.  The pour, by the way, is generous enough that we are happy to each get half of it in our glasses, so we can share this tasting.  This time my husband had the cold…

  1. 2010 Petit Verdot Apollo Drive $75

This is the second of our Single Vineyard flight, and is also quite good.  “This is aged 16 months in French oak,” notes Salim.  Sniff.  M&Ms?  Maybe also nutmeg.  Lots of dark berry tastes and nice tannins, dry, but with plenty of fruit tastes.  We like this one, but not at $75 per bottle!

Part of the tasting room

Part of the tasting room

Reasons to visit:  the 2010 Petit Verdot Apollo Drive, the 2013 Dry Riesling, the nice menu of snacks, a pleasant setting, oysters on Saturdays during the summer, helpful servers if you are a newbie.

The vines in fall, when most of the grapes have been picked.

The vines in fall, when most of the grapes have been picked.

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