Kontokosta Winery: Simply Good March 28, 2015

http://kontokostawinery.com/

kont building

Kontakosta’s motto—“Sound Life.  Sound Wine.”—is a nice play on words, since they are situated on a high bluff overlooking Long Island Sound and they also follow ecologically sensitive practices—such as generating their electricity through the use of a windmill.  The wine is, in general, quite nice.  We also speculated whether some of the briny, mineral tastes in the wines might come from their waterfront location.

One side of the tasting room

One side of the tasting room

The tasting room is a beautifully spare space, all white and black, with large windows looking out over the vineyards.  There’s a bar at one end and long tables for those who prefer to sit, plus an upper balcony.  Our group of four opted for the bar, where we found very informative and engaging servers.  The tasting menu offers two flights, one of five whites for $14 and another of five reds, also $14.  We decided that each couple would do one of each, sharing as we went.  We also shared a cheese tray, which consisted of a very generous and tasty block of Toussaint raw cow milk cheese and a sleeve of crackers for $12.

Looking up to the balcony

Looking up to the balcony

We started with the whites.

  1. NV Anemometer White                              $16

This is their table white, made from sauvignon blanc grapes from various vintages.  Our friend said it smelled like a lemon bar, which was quite accurate.  We also detected some vegetable aromas and some minerality.  The taste was also somewhat lemony and mineral, tart but not terribly crisp.  We all agreed it would go well with oysters.  (The name anemometer, by the way, refers to a device that measures wind speed, an indirect homage to their windmill.)

The Anemometer White

The Anemometer White

  1. 2013 Orient Chardonnay $22

Before we could ask, our server volunteered the information that it is called Orient because the grapes come from Sargon Vineyard, out in Orient.  A steel-fermented chard, this has typical honeysuckle and orange aromas and some gooseberry flavor.  My husband found it too mineral, with some wet rock flavors (whatever that tastes like), but the rest of us liked it.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $25

“This is made in the Sancerre style,” volunteered our server, “And it won a gold medal!”  We sniff and agree:  pineapple and mango on the nose and in the mouth.  Nice, though a bit sweet, but it goes well with the cheese.

We took home about a third of the cheese

We took home about a third of the cheese

  1. 2013 Viognier $25

“This is my favorite wine to go with that cheese,” enthuses our server, and we agree with her wholeheartedly.  The aroma reminds me of these wonderful cantaloupe-type melons called Hand Melons we used to get upstate, and the wine also has some cantaloupe tastes.

  1. 2012 Viognier

Observing how serious we are about our tasting, our server pours us each an extra taste, of the 2012 Viognier, which is almost sold out, and which she says is her favorite of the whites.  Interestingly, this has a sweeter aroma and taste than the 2013, though still lots of cantaloupe, with more floral notes.  It’s a more challenging wine, observes my husband.

  1. 2013 Dry Riesling $22

This has only .06% sugar, we are told, which means it is most definitely a dry riesling.  They used to have an off-dry riesling for those who come in and request “the sweetest white you have,” but they no longer make it.  This is definitely a dry riesling, with a touch of that cat pee smell (an observation which causes some hilarity among our cat-owning friends) and a simple but pleasant taste.  Delicate, notes our friend.

kont bottle

  1. Anemometer Red Table Wine $16

Now we move on to the reds, for which we are given new glasses.  This is a blend of 60% cabernet franc and 30% cabernet sauvignon, from various vintages.  We discuss the varying implications of saying an inexpensive table wine vs. a cheap red, and decide this belongs in the former category—especially when we learn they are running a special of 50% off for a case of the red and the white Anemometers.  Our noses detect a hint of ripe olives and “wet laundry,” says my husband, as well as some fruit.  The wine itself is light but “very acceptable,” with lots of nice fruit flavor.  We decide to get a case of eight reds and four whites.

  1. 2007 Blum Merlot $19

Ray Blum had a vineyard in Southold planted in merlot vines, which has since been bought by Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines, so this is the last anyone will have of the Blum Merlot.  It’s a fine, fairly typical North Fork merlot, with a touch of barnyard odor and black cherry taste.  Very nice.

  1. 2010 Estate Merlot $34

Yum.  Aged six months in French oak and six months in steel, this is a really good merlot, with lots of black cherry taste plus a touch of vanilla.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

This one is aged in Hungarian oak.  What’s the difference?  Hungarian oak is cheaper, gives a milder flavor, and is more tightly grained so there’s less evaporation (the “angel’s share”).  This is also yum!  Brambly aroma, lots of layers of flavor, including blackberry.  This is one that could be saved for future drinking.  “Or buy two,” suggests our server, “and drink one now and save the other for later.”

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $40

Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco Wine Challenge competition, we are told.  Hmmm.  This is a dry red, with aromas of pepper and nutmeg and mixed berry tastes.  “It has no gravitas,” opines my tasting buddy.

The bar

The bar

Reasons to go:  Beautiful tasting room overlooking the Sound, which you can walk to in good weather; knowledgeable servers; the Anemometer wines if you need to buy some decent table wines for everyday drinking; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Viognier, the Estate Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also sell olive oil—not made locally!  However, we are headed to Greenport to check out Vines and Branches’ new digs, so we decline to try the olive oil.

They have a small selection of gift items.

They have a small selection of gift items.

kont doors

kont mist

The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

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Palmer Vineyards: Cozy Spot for a Blustery Day 3/14/15

A rainy chilly March day made the cozy booths at Palmer a good destination.

A rainy chilly March day made the cozy booths at Palmer a good destination.

http://www.palmervineyards.com/

Since it was pi day, we stopped at Briermere (finally re-opened after their winter closing—yay!) for a strawberry rhubarb pie before heading to Palmer’s cozy tasting room. It was a blustery, rainy day, so Palmer’s pub-like setting and intimate booths felt just right. (There’s also an outdoor roofed patio area for warm weather.) At the bar, we perused the menu, which was divided into four separate tasting groups, each featuring four wines—the Reserve, for $20, the Aromatic for $16, the Spring Flight or the Red Flight. After carefully considering our options, we decided to share a Reserve and an Aromatic, and headed over to a booth while the genial server set up our trays of tastes. The pour is quite generous—we could have shared one flight and been perfectly satisfied.

As pleasant as he was, the server could have given us more guidance on the tastings, especially on which wine to taste in which order, since we planned to combine the two tastings. However, we figured it out on our own, and I think made the right decisions. The tasting room also features the presence of two cats, a tabby and a grey, and, like all cats, they made a beeline for my husband, who is, much to his chagrin, quite allergic to them. A bit of discouragement worked, fortunately, and they stopped trying to jump up onto the booth beside him! Maybe they hoped we had opted for the $13 cheese tray.

The Reserve wines are marked with an *.

The pour is quite generous.

The pour is quite generous.

  1. *Albariῆo $24.99

We were excited to start with the Albariῆo, since as far as we know Palmer is the only vineyard on Long Island to feature this grape, and the wine has lately been my go-to choice when it’s on a list of house whites by the glass. Though the wine was too cold (a common problem), we were able to sense aromas of green apple, honeysuckle, and lemon. The taste was dry, almost flinty, with notes of lemon and celery. While not good for sipping, we felt it would go great with spaghetti with seafood in a white wine garlic sauce (which we had had the night before at Crazy Fork, an excellent though very informal restaurant in Mattituck) or maybe (keeping to a Spanish theme) a Manchego cheese. We decided it was very buyable, but when we bought a bottle we were somewhat annoyed to notice that it was only 500 ml, instead of the usual 750. (Palmer’s web site also doesn’t offer this information, so be forewarned if you want to buy some.)

The small bottle of the Albarino.

The small bottle of the Albarino.

  1. *Barrel Fermented Pinot Blanc $23.99

Of course, since it was oak fermented, we smelled vanilla and Werther’s candy (butterscotch!). You can sense the oak when you taste it, too, as well as some ripe pineapple with a touch of sweetness at the end. Though there are also some sour undertones, this is a white one could sip. I also thought it might be nice with a blanquette de veau.

  1. 2012 Aromatico                 $24.99

We decided to switch over to the Aromatics before going on the oaked chardonnay, which was a good decision, since the delicate taste of the Aromatico might have suffered by following it. After sniffing and tasting, we looked at each other and cried, “Tangerines!?” This wine tastes and smells more like tangerines than any other I have ever tried. When I walked over to the bar to ask the server which grapes were involved, he had to call into a back room to ask. A blend of malvese and muscat, was the answer. He added that it would be great chilled on a summer day, and we agreed. Good for sipping, it might also be nice with a chicken tagine (I think we were hungry.).

The bar area

The bar area

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $23.99

We’ve had lots of North Fork sauvignon blancs, but if you blindfolded us we would not have pegged this as one of them. Most are very light and crisp, but this has more depth, and almost an umami flavor, plus some citrus. I felt the aroma was somewhat musty, though not unpleasant. This might be nice with sushi or Japanese noodle soup.

  1. *2010 Reserve Chardonnay $22.99

This oaked chard would give a California chard a run for its money, said my husband. Though I’m not fond of oaky chards, this was pretty good, with some nice apricot flavors, though it was too oaky to sip. There’s an interesting hint of brininess at the end. To cut the butteriness (If that’s not a word, it should be.), I’d have it with spicy food, like Hunan Chinese dishes.

Another view of the room

Another view of the room

  1. 2013 Riesling $23.99

As the server had noted, this is not a dry riesling. I smell mineral, cucumbers, and perfume, taste white grape juice and Golden Delicious apples. Though it’s not complex, I find it pleasant—considering I’m not a fan of sweet wines. There are other rieslings I’d prefer.

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer $23.99

Okay, so don’t spend time smelling this one, or you might never get to the taste, which is quite nice. The smell, however…rotting meat? Durian fruit? But it tastes like ripe peaches, and though it is, again, too sweet for us, I could see enjoying sipping this in mid-summer. There’s a total disconnect between the smell and the taste, my husband observes.

  1. *2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29.99

We saved our lone red for last. Aromas of brambles, toast with jelly, and a taste that is dry, but too like sour cherries for our liking. Not a wine we’d want in our cellar, we decide. Perhaps they are wise to offer so many whites, though we don’t know if their other reds are better.

Note the small sign that says "tour."  You can do a self-guided tour of the wine-making process in the front building.

Note the small sign that says “tour.” You can do a self-guided tour of the wine-making process in the front building.

Reasons to visit: cozy pub-like setting; the cats (or not because of the cats, whom the web site informs us are named Apollo and Angela); the Albariῆo, the Aromatico; the sweeter wines if you like sweet wines; lots of interesting whites.

Apollo the cat out for a stroll.

Apollo the cat out for a stroll.

The booths remind me of an English pub.

The booths remind me of an English pub.