The strains of Italian opera waft out into the cold December air as we open the door to Diliberto Winery. A trompe l’oeil street scene of an Italian village greets our eyes as we are warmly welcomed to the small tasting room (expanded in summer by a wrap-around patio). We had been here fairly frequently in the past, but even though it’s now been over a year, Sal Diliberto remembers us and stops by our table to chat. He’s been sitting at another table with a couple of friends who have been eating one of his thin-crust pizzas for lunch. A man who loves cooking and good food as much as he loves making wine, Sal Diliberto is fun to talk to. We share stories of eating in Italy.
At our table, we contemplate the menu of tastings. There are two choices: The Regular Tasting, of four wines for $12 or the Premium Tasting, of three wines for $15. There is also a menu of pizzas ($17 each), cheese trays, or olives. (No outside food is allowed—and no children, either. When Sal and Maryann’s grandchildren run in for a moment, they are affectionately but quickly shooed out.) We opt to do one tasting of each, alternating as we go. I’ll indicate the Premium wines with a *.
- 2009 Chardonnay $26
We like the aroma—of sugar cookies and cinnamon—better than the taste, which has quite a lot of acidity and lemon flavor. Although we don’t find it appealing, it might be better with food.
- *2003 Sauvignon Blanc $29
On the other hand, we like this, the only other white on the menus, very much. The wine appears a bit hazy in the glass, so I’m not sure whether or not it has been filtered. We get layers of flavor—the oak it was aged in, but also traces of sweetness. Gooseberry pie flavored with vanilla, I say, at which my husband challenges me to say when I ever had a gooseberry. No really, I did, once. It would be lovely with salmon, or with somewhat spicy chicken. We buy two bottles and get a bit of a discount, since we had done the tastings.
- *2013 Cantina $27
This is a new release, a 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet franc. We scent spice and berries, with some earthiness, though not that barnyard flavor. It is a good pasta or pizza wine.
- 2012 Merlot $27
Aroma of cherry and a taste of not really ripe cherry make this just an average Long Island merlot.
- 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon $29
Up to now we’ve been served our wines in pairs—with a fresh glass each time, always a nice touch—but this time we opt to just take one, since our next two tastes will be the two vintages of Tre. We like the cab sauv, though it lacks depth. It has lots of fruit smells, and tastes of plums that are not quite ripe. I could see this with lamb chops, hot from the grill.
- 2012 Tre $34
Here is their Bordeaux blend, a Right Bank style, because it is primarily merlot. It is 65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc. A sniff reveals aromas of wood and fruit, perhaps pine and berries. Though there aren’t many layers of taste it is very nice, with some tannins.
- *2013 Tre $37
This blends the same wines in the same proportions as the 2012, but what a difference! It is clearly our favorite of the day, with yummy fruit and a beautiful balance of flavors. It is not at all tannic, so I’m not sure how long it would last, but at the moment it is delicious.
Reasons to Visit: the best-looking tasting room, especially if, like us, you love Italy; the 03 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Tre; the warmth and friendliness of Sal and Maryann; Sal’s pizza (we didn’t have it this time, but we’ve sampled it in the past). Oh, and they have a little apartment they rent for $250 per night.