Proving once again that regular visits to all wineries are essential, we noted several changes at Anthony Nappa’s Winemaker Studio since our last visit there in July. For example, the emphasis has gone from looking at the wines of many winemakers to a focus on Nappa’s own wines, although others are available, including for purchase. Today, the choice is between a set menu of five wines for $10 by Russell Hearn, under his SuHru and T’Jara labels, or any of fourteen wines by Nappa at $2 per taste. After some serious discussion, we decide to share two tastings, one of the Hearn wines and the other of five wines from Nappa’s list. We also could have had a beer from Greenport Brewing Company or hard cider or espresso.
The building is over 100 years old, which contributes to the cozy feeling of the place, and is divided into two halves, with one half the tasting room with a bar and some little tables and chairs, and the other half a store called Provisions, which offers both a selection of groceries and a menu of sandwiches and snacks. While we were there we saw one party enjoying some paninis—which smelled delicious—with their wine. We could also have bought wines by the bottle from Leo Family, Race Wines, Coffee Pot Cellars (which now has their own place), and Influence Wines.
Our server, by the way, was quite pleasant and very knowledgeable, and we overheard her giving a pair of North Fork novices some good advice as to which wineries they would and would not like. Based on their preferences, we suggested their next stop should be One Woman Winery. I’ll list the wines as we drank them, with the Anthony Nappa wines second.
- SuHru Pinot Grigio $17
Nice way to start a tasting. This is a bright, citrusy white with a slightly funky, mineral aroma. Though somewhat too dry to be a sipper, it would go great with oysters.
- 2013 Frizzante $20
As you may have guessed from the name, this is a sparkling wine, made in the Méthode Champenoise from pinot noir, riesling, and gewürztraminer. Because it is unfiltered, it is somewhat cloudy. Given the grapes it is made from, I thought it might be sweet, but, though it has a touch of sweetness, it is dry, with aromas of pear and orange flower. Our server compares it to a Prosecco, and says she likes it with sushi. I think it would be great with some charcuterie! And given the price, one could drink this without waiting for an occasion.
- 2013 SuHru Sauvignon Blanc $19
As I’m sniffing and thinking, hmmm…toast, lemon peel, minerals, my husband says, “This is very like a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, and so anyone who liked that would like this.” I’ll have to do some research to verify that, but meanwhile I taste lemon and gooseberries.
- 2013 Anomaly $19
The Anomaly is Nappa’s signature wine, a white made from red pinot noir grapes, and it is quite nice, though we liked it better the first time we had it. The aroma is a tad funky, with some minerality and a smell like raw yeast dough. It is fairly crisp, and we taste sour cherries.
- 2010 T’Jara Cabernet Franc $30
New glasses for the reds. Aged in oak, this has aromas of asparagus, coffee beans, and cherry juice, with tastes of spice and dark fruit. It’s quite good, and we like the finish, and think it would pair well with veal Milanese. Since Russell Hearn used to be the winemaker for Pellegrini, and we like their reds, it’s logical that we would like the reds he makes under his own label.
- 2014 Bordo $20
I kind of expected this to be a Bordeaux, based on the name, but it is made from steel-fermented cabernet franc. Our server describes it as a “rustic Italian” wine, and says, among other flavors, that it has tastes of calamata olives. We agree, and also think we taste dark plums and raisins, plus maybe some black cherry. Although there’s lots of fruit tastes, it is relatively simple, in that there aren’t layers of flavor. In any event, it would go great with pizza or pasta!
- 2010 T’Jara Merlot $25
Just as my husband noted that the barnyard odors we used to sense frequently in North Fork wines are mostly gone, and I reminded him that it was merlots that featured it, we sniff this and find just a touch of barnyard. Otherwise, lots of berry aromas and sour plum tastes in this somewhat tannic red. Not at all soft, it would go well with pasta with a rich meat sauce.
- 2012 “dodici” $35
Named for the vintage year, this is a blend of 67% merlot, 28% cabernet franc, and 5% cabernet sauvignon, aged in French oak for 18 months. A Right Bank Bordeaux, says my drinking pal. Aroma: Captain Black tobacco, chocolate, red fruits. Taste: cherry, dry yet soft, with some tannins. Compared with how it tasted a year ago, we decide it has aged well so far, though it could be overwhelmed by a big steak dinner.
- 2007 T’Jara Reserve Merlot $35
Also aged in French oak, this is, despite the name, a bit of a blend: 89% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 2% malbec, 2% cabernet sauvignon. “Unripe peach pit,” opines my pal, as he sniffs. Really? Okay, maybe. Also currants, perhaps. We taste and agree on dried fruits and unsweetened cocoa. In a head to head with dodici, we choose the T’Jara.
- 2012 Blackbird $40
Why Blackbird? Because merlot is the French word for blackbird, says the server. Well, close, it is “merle,” and this is Nappa’s Reserve Merlot. Red cherry taste, quite tannic, not much aroma: we think it would be better with food, but are not thrilled with this wine. Not bad, mind you, but not worth the price.
Reasons to visit: the chance to taste and buy wines from more than one winemaker; some offbeat choices like the Frizzante and the Anomaly; the lovely food from Provisions; a relaxed atmosphere; the Suhru Sauvignon Blanc, the Bordo, the T’Jara Reserve Merlot, the Dodici; freshly made espresso or cappuccino for those who have had enough wine.