Hang out in Diliberto’s tasting room for more than about ten minutes and you are likely to meet Mr. Salvatore Diliberto himself. He may emerge from the kitchen with a dusting of flour on his shirt from the thin-crust pizza he makes or enter from the cellar, where he has been guiding a barrel tasting. We’ve been there enough times that he recognizes us, so he sat down at our table to chat for a few minutes. He’s a friendly guy, and passionate about his wine-making.
He also loves Italy, as you can tell from the moment you enter the cozy tasting room (augmented by a semi-enclosed outdoor patio) with its trompe l’oeil murals of a “Tuscan hill town” and its sound track of Italian pop music or opera. Scenes from an aerial film of Italy are projected on a flat screen TV over the piano which is sometimes used for performances of live opera, on occasion sung by Sal himself. In addition, he guides tours of the Campania region of Italy. We think it might be fun to go on one of his tours, as we have enjoyed several cooking demos he has given in the tasting room.
Your wine tasting, which is brought to your table in attractive round-bottomed glasses, is accompanied by a snack of your choice from the menu. We had olives and cheese and crackers. You can choose three wines for $13 or five for $21. There are six wines on the menu, so we opted to share a tasting of five, which today did not include the rosé. We also noted that glasses of wine are $10, so if you wanted to come for a lunch of pizza and a glass of wine you could have lunch for $37—which we saw two twenty-something couples doing (note that the winery is adults-only, no children allowed). Not a bad deal for the North Fork.
- 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $29
We like the pleasantly flowery aroma and dryness of this steel-fermented wine. It is lemony with nice acidity, and tastes better once our snack arrives and we drink it with the provolone and crackers.
- 2014 Chardonnay $30
This oaked chard is described on the menu as “buttery,” and we agree. In general I prefer un-oaked chards, but this one is nice. You can smell the vanilla from the oak casks, and the wine is a bit sweet, so we think lots of people would like it. I would not advise eating olives with it, however, as the two tastes do not enhance each other.
- 2013 Merlot $29
Soft, is the first word I think of to describe the aroma of this rather typical merlot, and green is what I think of the taste. It’s a bit thin, a bit tannic, and overall just okay. We notice some sediment in the glass, and would like to ask Sal about it, but he has disappeared into the kitchen from which two freshly baked pizzas soon emerge.
- 2014 Cantina $27
If you think of a casual red and white checked tablecloth Italian restaurant, you will be right on track for the taste of this wine. We like it, and think it would pair beautifully with pizza or pasta. The aroma has a slight note of hay or grass, the taste of this mixture of half merlot, half cabernet franc is more rounded than the merlot by itself. My husband says “balanced,” and I agree, though he disputes my thought of sweet stewed prunes for the taste. It goes great with the cheese. We buy a bottle.
- 2013 TRE $37
Tre means three, and there are three grapes in this Right Bank Bordeaux-style wine: 65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc. At first we’re not bowled over, but actually as the wine sits we like it better. Perhaps it needs more aging, as the menu suggests. We smell black cherry, but the taste lacks depth. Not bad, but not worth the price.
Reasons to visit: a calm, pretty room in which to sip wine or enjoy lunch; the sauvignon blanc and the Cantina; the pizza; snacks; you can pretend you’re in Italy; Sal.