Pindar: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day February 20, 2016

http://www.pindar.net/

It was a cloudy day as we headed to Pindar.

It was a cloudy day as we headed to Pindar.

A beautifully deep rich voice singing “sunshine on a cloudy day” greeted us as we entered Pindar’s large tasting room, and that seemed like an appropriate message.  It was a cloudy day, and, as the French say, “A day without wine is like a day without sunshine.”  Pindar often offers musical entertainment, and is often crowded.  Today, however, there were only a few couples at the bar and the tables in a room that, according to their web site, can accommodate 3,000 (!).  Because of the crowds, we hadn’t been there in a few years, but this visit reminded us that we like many of their wines, though not all.  Their prices also are quite reasonable, which may have something to do with the economies of scale, as they say they are the largest vineyard on Long Island.

We quite enjoyed her singing.

We quite enjoyed her singing.

The menu offers 5 tastes for $10, out of 14 choices, including four characterized as “sweeter” and two dessert wines, plus another list of three “limited” wines at $3 per taste, and a sparkling wine.  The list is further divided into reds, whites, and “proprietary blends,” so it took us a while and some discussion to decide what to do.  We finally decided to share two tastings, first the whites, including two of the proprietary blends (marked with an * in my review), and then five of the reds.  We chose to skip the rosés, as we tend to find no one’s measure up to Croteaux’s.   Since the pour is rather generous, we were glad we chose to share.  They also offer a selection of cheeses and crackers, and do not allow outside foods.

One view of the bar--one of the bars!

One view of the bar–one of the bars!

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc    $14.99

In general, we feel Long Island sauvignon blancs tend to go better with food, as they tend to be too lemony to just sip, and that’s true of this one as well.  The aroma is of mineral and peach.  Very refreshing, I could see having this with lobster, as its tartness would offset the crustacean’s richness.  My husband notes that the end is too lemony for too long for his liking, especially sans food.

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  1. *Autumn Gold $10.99

This is a blend of Cayuga, Seyval, and chardonnay grapes, our server informs us, as will be our next choice, though in different proportions and different residual sugar amounts. We ask if the Cayuga is from upstate, since it is an upstate grape, and are informed that they grow all their grapes in their own vineyards.  We like this better than the first wine.  It has a touch of sweetness and a bit of funkiness which are well balanced with green apple and citrus tastes.  I also smell some minerality.  This is a very buyable wine, and we get a bottle of it to take home.

  1. *Winter White $10.99 for 750 ml., $17.99 for 150 ml.

“Our most popular white,” notes our server as he pours this blend.  We smell tropical fruits, and are ready to like this one but find it much too sweet for our tastes. The menu describes it as “semi-dry,” which makes us wonder about the wines they categorize as “sweeter.”   You could serve it to someone who actually would prefer soda—or maybe with Thai food.  We dump it.

The mysterious peacock, which may be a reference to Hera's favorite bird.

The mysterious peacock, which may be a reference to Hera’s favorite bird.

  1. 2013 Peacock Chardonnay          $9.99

There’s a pretty peacock on the label, so we ask (as we did two years ago) about the name of the wine.  Still no answer!   This spends eight months in French oak, and we do smell a bit of that woody smell.  We don’t really care for this one, either.  The taste reminds me of over-ripe bananas plus a really tart grapefruit—they say “citrus rind”—and then too much sweetness.  We don’t dump, but we also are not fans.

  1. 2013 Sunflower Chardonnay Special Reserve $18.99

Why sunflower?  This time we get an answer—a sunflower appeared spontaneously in the midst of the vineyard.  The menu describes this as “100% new barrel” fermented, from a “special 3.9 acre vineyard block.”  Sniff—vanilla and grape juice.  This has more body than any white so far.  I say nice.  My tasting buddy says it is “not offensive at the end.”  One could sip this, and it would also be good with a seafood diavolo, since it has some sweetness to it, but not too much.

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  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $21.99

Now we switch to reds, and get a new glass.  Our server tells us this was just released.  Hmmm…smells good.  Berries, forest floor, maybe wet leaves.  Tastes light, more of a roast chicken or game bird red than a steak red. It would have gone well with the quail from Feisty Acres we bought at the Riverhead Farmer’s Market and had for Valentine’s Day dinner.  But it is soft, pleasant, and quite drinkable.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $18.99

Another pretty label, this one with Pegasus, the flying horse, on it, reminds us that Pindar is named for the Greek poet and owned by the Damianos family, who are Greek.  The wine spends two years in American oak barrels, and has just been out for six months.  I like the aroma, which has a bit of a black olive smell.  This is another fairly light red, dry, with some tannins and tastes of stewed prune and spice, maybe allspice.  My husband thinks it could use more time.

Pegasus, the flying horse

Pegasus, the flying horse

  1. 2013 Merlot $18.99

Merlot is the most popular red wine grape around here, and this is a fairly typical example of a merlot, though with more of a café au lait aroma than most.  My tasting buddy says it reminds him of Hopjes candy.  I’m thinking mocha.  Again, nice and soft, dry at the end, with some nice fruit flavor, but not particularly interesting.

Another Greek reference--the Argo, Jason's chip.

Another Greek reference–the Argo, Jason’s ship.

  1. 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $34.99

“This,” says our server enthusiastically, “is my favorite!”  Yes, I can see why.  It is quite good.  Oak (two years in French oak), cherry, and tobacco aromas, with lots of berry tastes, this would have gone well with the lamb chops we had last night.  Very drinkable.

  1. 2010 Reserve Merlot $34.99

The menu informs us that these grapes were hand-picked and the wine spent two years in French oak.  We smell black cherry and dark plum and taste lots of dark fruit tastes.  Yes, it is better than their other merlot.  Then again, everyone says 2010 was a very good year, especially for reds.

Lots of snacks

Lots of snacks

Reasons to visit:  big room that accommodates a crowd (which might also be a reason not to go!); frequent music performances; good prices for Long Island; the Autumn Gold, Sunflower Chardonnay, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2010 Reserve Merlot; they sell cheese and crackers and other snacks; lots of choices; wines that non-wine drinkers may prefer.

Plenty of room at the bars

Plenty of room at the bars

Me

Pretty stained glass window

Pretty stained glass window

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Clearly they've won lots of awards.

Clearly they’ve won lots of awards.

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Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard: It Helps to be First January 30, 2016

http://www.baitinghollowfarmvineyard.com/

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The first winery you come to on Sound Avenue, traveling west to east as most visitors do, is Baiting Hollow, and I can’t help but wonder if that has contributed to its popularity.  To be fair, its tasting room is located in an attractive building that is based on what was originally a farmhouse built around 1861, it has an extensive food menu so you can easily have lunch there, and it has an attractive charity to which it donates the profits of certain wines.  It also frequently features musical entertainment, welcomes limos and buses, and its wines are all crowd pleasers.

The band was warming up when we left.

The band was warming up when we left.

The charity is interesting.  They operate a horse rescue sanctuary, where they house horses which were destined for slaughter.  If the day had been warmer, we might have gone out back to take a peek at them.  We did spot one horse through a window. In the summer, they offer pony rides for children.  A number of their wines are marked with a horse’s head on the menu.  These wines are named for particular horses, and the profits from their sale are donated to their charity, as are the profits from the pony rides.

Considering their charity, this photo was not surprising.

Considering their charity, this photo was not surprising. Note the clever use of a wine bottle, too.

The food menu, in addition to the expected snacks and cheese plates, also included today warm soups and chili, and such dishes as “merlot meatball sliders” for $12.99.  We saw several family groups eating lunch when we were there, early in the day on Saturday.

We were glad we went early, since most of the time when we go past Baiting Hollow we are scared away by the crowds of cars and limos.  Today it was nice and quiet, though a band warming up promised livelier times to come.  Instead we had peace in which to savor the wines, and a server who seemed to know all about them.

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The tasting menu offers several options for one ounce tastes:  one taste for $4, three for $9, four for $11, or six for $16.  We opted to share one six-taste flight, chosen from a menu of three whites, two rosés, four reds, and two dessert wines.  Our server apologetically gave us tickets for the six, assuring us that he would remember where we were.  We opted to sample our choices at a nearby table, returning to the bar for each new one.

One of the bars.

One of the bars.

  1. White Satin 2013            $27.99

This is a blend of a couple of different whites with an aroma of chalk or stone and peach pit.  Happily, it tastes better than it smells.  White Satin is a dry, fairly tart white with tastes of blood orange or tangelo and maybe kumquat, with some interest.  My tasting buddy objects to the finish, saying, “I don’t want that taste in my mouth.”  It would be better with food, maybe a nice fresh bluefish.  I like to bake bluefish fillets on top of potatoes, with a few slices of bacon on top.

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  1. Angel Chardonnay 2013 $27.99

One of the horse charity wines, this is typical of those Long Island chardonnays which have spent some time in oak and some in stainless steel.  When you smell it you can detect traces of the wood, plus some mineral and lemon aromas, and the taste includes both lots of lemony citrus and a touch of vanilla (from the oak).  Nice.  It would also go well with local fish, perhaps the blackfish I oven “fried” several times this fall.

  1. 2007 Merlot $26.99

We decide to skip the rosés and the riesling, thinking they might be too sweet for our tastes, and move on to the reds. No new glass.  Sniff.  “Gasoline?” says my husband, perhaps a bit influenced by all the time he spent last week behind our snow blower.  I tilt more towards berries, but I get what he means.  There is a sweet slightly chemical aroma.  The taste is light and pleasant, with a touch of smoke but not enough to be unpleasant.  While not for sipping, this would be fine with chicken or game birds.

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  1. Mirage $27.99

Another wine named for a horse, with proceeds going to the horse rescue, this is their Bordeaux blend, a mixture of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.  Again, this is a fairly light red, not complex, dry, with berry tastes, and is pleasant enough.  Though it would not stand up to a steak, it would be fine with veal or lamb.  The tasting notes say “bold.”  I say not so much.

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $28.99

You can’t tell a wine by its smell, an adage I just made up, is certainly exemplified by this wine, which smells kind of funky but tastes quite good.  It’s my favorite so far, with lots of mouth-watering acidity and fruit.  It is easy to drink, either as a sipper or with food, and is just the right amount of dry.

  1. Cabernet Franc 2012 $28.99

Just as my husband wonders whether one can actually tell one North Fork red from another, we try this one.  The aroma is quite different from the cab sauv—somewhat reminiscent of Cheracol, that old cough syrup, with no funkiness—and so is the taste.  Lots of blackberry, we decide simultaneously, nice and dry, and less fruity than you’d expect from the aroma.   If I were having roasted Crescent Farms duck breast I’d pair this wine with them.

The glass of Sweet Isis.

The glass of Sweet Isis.

  1. Sweet Isis $32.99 (for 375 ml.)

No, we did not get a free taste!  I decided I wanted to taste one of the dessert wines, and my husband accidentally came back to our table with a whole glass of Sweet Isis.  A taste would have been $5.  The last of the horse rescue wines (thus named for a horse, not a certain group), this is a white wine dessert wine, with lots of fresh pear and apple tastes.  I was concerned that a whole glass of it with no food (blue cheese would have been perfect) would cloy, but somehow as we sat and chatted and sipped it all disappeared.  It was sweet, but appropriately so, and could also go with charcuterie as well as with a cheese platter.  Very likable.

Food was served at this bar.

Food was served at this bar.

Gift items

Gift items

Reasons to visit:  it’s the first winery you come to; horses!; lots of food options; music; you don’t mind crowds; lots of gift items; the Angel Chardonnay, the cabernet sauvignon, the cabernet franc, the Sweet Isis.

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Their rules

Their rules

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