Castello di Borghese: Wines that Go Great with Food February 21, 2015

http://www.castellodiborghese.com/

borg outside

The last time we were here, two years ago, we had a great conversation with Ann Marie Borghese, the owner, with her husband, of this excellent winery.  Since then, alas, they both have died.  However, their three children—Allegra, Fernando, and Giovanni—have committed to keeping the vineyard going.  We were wondering what the tasting room experience would be like under the new regime, and were happy to find the same careful, well-informed, personal, and cheerful service as before.  Whew.  The wines were also pretty good!

The tasting room is divided into two areas, one with the bar and a few gift items, and the other with tables and chairs, an art gallery, and a small stage.  Alas, Marguerite Volans, a frequent musical performer, was not there.

The stage for performers.

The stage for performers.

Our enthusiastic and well-versed server explained the menu choices to us.  For $10 you can choose any four wines from the Estate wines side of the menu, and for $15 you can choose any five wines from either the Estate side or the Reserve side.  Since if we each tried five wines we would be able to cover most of their choices, we decided to go with that option, which would also let us taste some similar wines side by side.  We opted to skip the rosé, since we are such Croteaux fans, and a few others.  In addition to the menu items, we were also offered the opportunity to taste some newly bottled examples of the 2013 vintage.  I’ll mark the wines from the Reserve menu and the new vintages with an *.

Walking into the bar area.

Walking into the bar area.

  1. 2013 Chardonnay            $18

The steel-fermented chard got our tasting off to a good start.  We got lots of pineapple smells, as well as a bit of grapefruit.  Typical of a steel chard, this is crisp and fairly tart, with nice citrus flavors.  Kumquat, says my husband, and I agree, kumquat with the skin on.  Good with scallops, suggests our server.

  1. *2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $26

I don’t always like oaked chards, but this one only spent six months in oak, so it is still fairly delicate, with butterscotch aromas and some wheat toast flavors as well as fruit.  2012 was a great year on the North Fork, with a dry September that allowed grapes to really ripen.  It was also interesting to taste these two very different wines made from the same grape.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $24

Yum, another good white.  This wine is also steel-fermented, with an aroma that reminds me of white grape juice.  How odd, a wine that smells like grapes…This is also dry, with citrus taste dominated by grapefruit, and I could be very happy pairing it with some local oysters.

  1. *2013 Founders Field Sauvignon Blanc $24

How interesting.  Still some of that grape juice smell, with a bit of butterscotch from its two months in oak, but the taste is quite different, almost funky, with a bit of a metallic tang.  “Austere,” says my husband.  I think it needs to be drunk with food, I counter, and our server agrees.  Maybe seafood in a cream sauce, like a New England clam chowder, would be a good idea.

borg wine

  1. *2013 Bianco di Pinot Noir $50

I always like to try something new, so I suggest we try two whites which sound interesting.  This one is made from pinot noir grapes, which are usually used to make red wines.  In this case, they took the skins off in order to make a white wine.  Hmmm…it smells really nice.  Chocolate, suggests my tasting pal, and I have to agree.  But it smells better than it tastes, tart, with a very short finish, and not complex.  It’s good with cheese and crackers, we are told, and I can see that.

  1. *2012 White Meritage $60

Usually, Meritage means a red blend, so I’m intrigued.  This is a mixture of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, and in contrast to the previous wine has more and better taste than aroma.  It smells somewhat like acetone (phenols, says my scientific companion) but has some good citrus and grapefruit tastes.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir                $30

Now we switch to reds, and get new glasses, always a nice touch.  Pinot noir is the Burgundy grape, lighter than Bordeaux, and so it is.  The menu says “soft tannins,” but I don’t sense any.  I smell raspberry and a woodsy aroma and taste lightly fruity berries.  I could see this slightly chilled on a summer picnic with roast chicken.  Speaking of chilled, we were pleased that none of the wines were served too cold, which often happens, and which makes it harder to really taste the wines.

borg red

  1. *2013 Pinot Noir Reserve $55

This is one of the new releases, and we are interested to see how it compares with the 2012 Pinot.  Again, we get a woodsy and raspberry aroma, with some additional fruit smells.  We like this one much better (though maybe not $25 better).  It has lots of cherry flavor, not much in the way of tannins, and is also a fairly light red.  We are told that pinot noir is a “heartbreak grape,” as it can be finicky and doesn’t always deliver on its promise.  We are also told that the snow is actually good for the vines, as it acts as almost a blanket for the dormant vines.

  1. *2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

This is also a new release, and we are advised to try it before the cab sauv.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but with lots of red fruit to it.  We like it, but again think it would benefit by being served with food.  It is dry, with some nice fruit tastes, and would complement a barbeque very nicely.  I envision digging our Weber out from the snow bank it currently inhabits.  Not gonna happen!

Some of the gift items for sale

Some of the gift items for sale

  1. *2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $44

I think this wine demonstrates the risk of serving a newly bottled wine, as we feel it would benefit from more time.  It’s closed, says my husband, who has been reading wine magazines for years.  It has some good tannins and dark fruit—black cherry in particular—tastes.  We think it might be good in a few years, and if we had room in the cellar might have given it a chance.  Time to drink some more reds from the cellar!

The lovely Allegra

The lovely Allegra

  1. 2010 Allegra $36

If you’re counting, you realize that we should be at the end of our tasting, but our server, noticing our seriousness and my note-taking, asks if we want to try anything else.  Well, I ask, is there anything we should try?  Okay, she says, you have to try our dessert wine, made from chardonnay grapes.  A new, smaller glass appears, and we get a taste.  Very delicious!  Aromas of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass, tastes of honey and apricot, but not too sweet, not at all cloying, we agree, and we buy a bottle.  Then, all the way home, we discuss what to have it with.  I think if we did a dessert course of Catapano goat cheese and local peaches it would go beautifully.  Or if we had an appetizer course of paté…It was named, by the way, for Allegra Borghese, on the occasion of her 16th birthday.  She must be a lovely person!

borg honey

Reasons to visit:  you want to try an all-around good winery that is not inundated with buses; you’re curious about the oldest vineyard (it was originally Hargreaves) on the North Fork; some interesting choices; the 2013 steel Chardonnay, the 2012 Barrel Chardonnay, the 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve, the 2010 Allegra; servers who really know the wines.

borg sign

The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.

The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.

Advertisements

Greenport Harbor Brewery: The Satellite Location 2/15/15

http://www.greenportharborbrewing.com/

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company's new facility is quite large.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s new facility is quite large.

We were quite pleased when Greenport Harbor Brewery opened up a second location in Peconic, which is more convenient for us to refill our growlers, since we enjoy their interesting and delicious beers.  I really should blog about them several times a year, since, though certain brews are always on the menu, they vary their offerings seasonally.  For example, in the fall we enjoyed their Leaf Pile Ale, and now they offer special winter brews.  Indeed, we visit them more often than I blog about them, as our ever increasing stock of Greenport-Harbor-logoed glasses attests.   You see, the way a tasting works is you are technically paying $8 for the glass, which you then get to keep, and which is filled successively with their six menu items.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

It was bitterly cold outside, and blowing snow made parts of the roads hazardous, but still there were quite a few people at the picnic-type tables in the large industrial-style tasting room.  Over in one corner, people from the Fork and Anchor Deli in East Marion had set up a table, where they were selling sub sandwiches, huge pretzels, and bowls of chili, while a little further into the room a band was getting ready to play.  Unfortunately, we had to leave before the music started.  While some people were doing a tasting, others were buying pints.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Band setting up

Band setting up

At the bar, large bowls of small pretzels helped clear the palate between tastes, while our server enthusiastically explained each beverage.  A home brewer himself, he and our son-in-law got into quite a technical discussion of brewing recipes and techniques.  He also told us about upcoming events, including the opening of a restaurant in the space and plans for a pig roast, which had us looking forward to June for another reason besides the end of ice and cold.

The taps

The taps

  1. Harbor Ale        5.3%

The percentage of alcohol in each beer is a usual notation on brewery menus, since beers can vary greatly in how alcoholic they are.  The Harbor Ale is their standard brew, always on the menu, an American pale ale with pleasant citrus notes and a golden color.

green light beer

  1. Black Duck Porter 4.7%

This is another standard, and one of our favorites.  If you like dark beer, this is a delicious one to try, with lots of coffee and chocolate tastes. It may be that I was influenced by the fact that it was just the day after Valentine’s Day, but I think it would pair well with dark chocolates.

  1. Otherside I.P. A. 7.5%

The “other side” is the West Coast, as this is made with an assortment of West Coast hops, such as Cascade, which, our son-in-law noted, tend to add a “piney” note.  We agree, and also some citrus tastes and various layers of flavor.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

  1. Longest Night Stout 6.7%

Here is an example of a seasonal brew, as this is made for the winter time.  It is a hearty winter treat, a bit bitterer than the porter, and very flavorful.  Before it was served, we were asked if any of us had a nut allergy, as chocolate with nuts is used in the brewing, as well as oatmeal. The taste led to a discussion of the joys of dark-chocolate-covered orange peel.

  1. Belgian Style Dubbel 6.0%

This is not a misspelling of double, but rather a Belgian beer style.  Our son-in-law lived for a while in Brussels, so we deferred to him. He declared this brew appropriately funky, but not quite funky enough.  Apparently it is brewed on cherries, and follows a style first used in monasteries in Belgium.

green foam

  1. Spring Turning Saison 6.25%

Saison refers to the yeast used in this very tasty and refreshing rye-based quaff.  This is also a Belgian style beer, and our server informed us that Greenport hoped to introduce more Belgian brews in the future, an ambition we applaud, since on a recent trip to Belgium we became quite enamored of the beers, and also of the fact that every sidewalk café seemed to offer its own brew.  (We also noticed that, although I usually ordered the dark brown beer and my husband the light brown one, the waiters in Belgium almost invariably put the dark beer down in front of my husband.  Who knew beer had gender?)

At the end of the tasting, we filled our growler with the Otherside I.P.A. to go with the pizza we planned to get from Michelangelo later that evening.  It went very well.

green wall

Reasons to visit:  you like beer; you love beer; you’re interested in exploring a variety of beer tastes; you want a collection of little glasses; all six of the beers on offer, as well as every other beer we’ve ever tried there; you’re tired of wine (just kidding).

green building

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Osprey’s Dominion: Reasonable Wines, Reasonable Prices 2/7/15

http://ospreysdominion.com/tasting-room/

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The last time we were at Osprey’s, in April of 2013, we felt somewhat neglected, as our server abandoned us to cater to a group of women who came in midway through our tasting.  This time we had the room almost to ourselves, but again we were not impressed with the service.  Our server briefly outlined the menu choices, but then offered no suggestions how to choose amongst the many offerings and only minimal (unless we asked questions, no more than what was on the menu) information on each wine.  That’s too bad, as the winery has some interesting wines at quite reasonable—for Long Island—prices.

Osprey’s tasting room is quite large, and is well set up to accommodate crowds, though on this cold February day we shared it with a couple unpacking a picnic lunch at one table and only a few others at the bar.  The musician—an accomplished singer and guitarist, playing James Taylor and Eagles standards—felt quite lonely until, just as we were leaving, a party of about a dozen women arrived.  You can also find a good selection of wine-related gifts.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

Plenty of gift options

Plenty of gift options

In a nod to Valentine’s Day, one of the three menus offered a chocolate pairing of four wines and chocolates for $18.  Another let you try four of their high-end reds for $15, while the main menu let you choose any five wines for $8.  We chose the latter option, but our work was not done.  The two-sided list includes 12 whites and nine reds, plus a few dessert wines and a sparkling wine.  After a long discussion—which our server left us alone to have—we decided to do five whites and five reds, sharing each taste as we went.  Oh, and they also have Greenport Harbor ale on tap.

  1. 2012 Fumé Blanc             $18

Why Fumé, we ask our server about this wine made from sauvignon blanc grapes.  Oh, she says, because being in oak gives it a bit of a smoky taste.  We sniff, and agree on an asparagus smell.  The wine itself is interesting, dry, but with fruit I categorize as gooseberry (to confirm, the next time I see gooseberries at Briermere I’ll buy them so we can discuss the taste) and some complexity.  We like it, and agree that it is quite sippable.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

  1. Regina Maris Chardonnay $13

Why Regina Maris, we ask.  It’s a famous ship in Greenport, she says.  The bottle calls it a “special commemorative” wine, but we don’t know why.  This is a 50% oak and 50% steel-fermented chard, with a nice ripe pineapple aroma.  The taste is a bit disappointing, somewhat evanescent with front of the mouth sweetness and not much else.

  1. 2012 Reserve Chardonnay $20

We decide to try another chard as a comparison, and choose the reserve.  Too much oak for our taste, we agree, though the wine is so cold perhaps some subtlety is lost.  The aroma is nice—nutmeg and bitter orange, some vanilla.  I taste something pineapple at the end.  Just okay.

  1. 2011 Gewürztraminer $15

If you’re looking for a wine to have with next Thanksgiving’s turkey, this would be a good choice.  We smell ginger, sweet orange blossoms, and a not-unpleasant touch of wet fern.  There’s some vegetable taste, and it is nicely dry.

The Edzelwicker

The Edzelwicker

  1. 2011 “White Flight” Edzelwicker $15

I’m intrigued by this one, a blend of 87% pinot gris, 8% gewürztraminer, and 5% riesling.  Why the name?  It’s from Alsace, we are told, and means noble blend.  The aroma is interesting, too—bread dough, peach, hard candy.  The taste is not quite as exciting, but it is good, dry, but with good fruit tastes.  I think it would go really well with brie, even though I usually like red wines with cheeses.

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $12

Now we move on to the reds, and we are given a clean glass.  Where is Richmond Creek?  Right across the street, she says.  This is a Left Bank Bordeaux blend, 47% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 20% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  We’re looking for an inexpensive wine for everyday drinking, which is why we decided to taste this one.  We smell plum, eucalyptus, and forest floor.  The wine tastes okay, with some sweetness, though overall it is a bit flat.  It wouldn’t stand up to highly seasoned food.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

  1. 2007 Meritage “Flight”                                $24

Another blend, this time it’s of 67% merlot, 25% carmenere, and 8% cabernet franc.  We love its dark color and fruity aroma.  The taste is pleasant, mostly cherry, and less complex than one would expect, with some tannins.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir $40

Cheracol  cough syrup I exclaim when I sniff this wine, to which I add, also cinnamon.  Swirl.  Legs.  Cherry flavor.  Very nice, though perhaps not $40 nice.  People would like it, opines my husband.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

  1. 2011 Carmenere $35

Wow, we really like this.  If we were looking for more reds for the wine cellar, we’d get this one.  Aromas of spice, cedar and fennel precede tastes of ripe dark fruits—sweet purple plums, perhaps—plus some tannins.  The grape has an interesting history, as it was apparently a lost and forgotten French variety that was rediscovered growing in Chile.  Osprey is the only winery on Long Island to grow carmenere, another server tells us, when I tell him it’s my favorite of the day.

  1. 2010 Malbec $24 (two for $40, a January special)

2010 was a good year on the North Fork, so we have high expectations for this wine, and we are not disappointed.  The grape is from the Cahors region of France, we are told.  Argentinian wines often use malbec grapes, but this wine is softer than I remember Argentinian malbecs to be.  My husband insists that it smells like Craisins.  Could be.  I taste dried fruit and spice and I really like it.  At $20 a bottle, it’s a good buy, so we get two bottles.  (Just before we tasted this one, a bowl of crackers arrived on the bar.)

They'll make custom labels for you.

They’ll make custom labels for you.

Reasons to visit:  reasonably good wines for reasonable prices; some interesting varietals and blends you won’t find elsewhere on the North Fork; the Fumé Blanc, the Gewürztraminer, the Edzelwicker, the Carmenere, the Malbec;  you may bring a picnic (something many wineries don’t allow); good selection of gifts; a nice large room for a group.

osprey chalk board

Osprey sign