On the coldest day so far this winter, we ventured forth to do some errands and a wine tasting. We paid our final visits until spring to Bayview (potatoes and Brussels sprouts) and Briermere (last pie for months to come, a yummy blackberry apple), and then headed to Jamesport for a tasting. In the past, we’d been there in warm weather and had enjoyed sitting outside on their pretty patio, watching families frolic in the capacious back yard and enjoying oysters. Some day, we decided, we’d have to return to try the flatbreads from their outdoor wood-fired oven. But now it was winter, very quiet, and rather chilly. The only other occupants of the tasting room were a small party enjoying a bottle of wine at one of the tables. There are a few small tables and a long bar along one side. Not much is on offer by way of merchandise aside from the wines. We stepped up to the bar, and eventually the pleasant young woman behind it came over and asked us if we wanted to do a tasting.
We did, but first we needed some time to peruse the menu. A tasting consists of any five of their wines for $18, so we decided to share one, even though that meant we had to skip many of the wines. The menu offers nine whites (including one sparkling), seven reds (which includes a rosé, though some places list the rosé with the whites), two dessert wines, and a non-alcoholic verjus. No guidance from the server being on offer, we made up our own minds. As Christmas music tinkled in the background, we signaled her that we were ready for our first taste.
- 2015 Estate Sauvignon Blanc $21.95
In the past we’ve enjoyed their steel fermented East End Sauvignon Blanc with our oysters, so we decided it was time to try their other sauvignon blanc, one that is also steel fermented but spends some time in “oak puncheons.” The aroma is mostly vegetal, with a hint of cat pee. The server describes it as “New Zealand style.” We sniff and sip. Nicely dry, with a touch of sweetness on the tongue. I taste pineapple, and my tasting buddy says he can taste the oak. Maybe a little.
- 2013 Estate Riesling (Dry) $25.95
Described on the menu as “trocken”—which means dry in the German style—and by our server as having “no residual sugar,” this is indeed quite dry. In fact, I find it rather sour. My husband disagrees, though he agrees with my assessment that this is not my favorite riesling. I think it smells somewhat chemical, with a whiff of apricot pits (arsenic, anyone?). I taste hard green apricots and not ripe apple. He likes it better than I do, though in general we both favor dry rieslings.
- 2014 East End Cinq Red $18.95
Now we move to the reds, and get a clean glass. By the way, we like their glasses very much—stemless and round-bottomed, they work well to warm the wines which, as in many places, are all served too cold. If you know French, you may already have guessed that this is a blend of five grapes—cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, and pinot noir. Our server disappears to take a phone call before we can ask her about the proportions. The bottle was just opened, which might account for a smell my husband characterizes as gasoline. I’m not sure I agree (we seem to have more differences of opinion than usual today!), but I do get a bit of a sweet chemical aroma in addition to the expected red fruit smells. We do, however, agree that the wine has more aroma than taste, and it is dry but not at all tannic. I think it is a bit unbalanced, though I like the slightly peppery note at the end. I would say just okay, a red you could have with roast chicken or lamb chops but not with Italian food or steak.
- 2014 Thiméo Reserve $74.95
“How is this pronounced?” we ask our server before she can disappear again, “And where did the name come from?” She replies, “Timeo, and it is named for the grandson of the French man who makes our barrels, Jean Louis Bossuet. We collaborated with him to make this wine.” While we have her, we ask about the grapes. “75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc,” she replies, and is off to the far end of the bar before we can ask her why this one is so expensive. Oh well. It smells good; we detect lots of cocoa and some of the oak. We try warming the glass in our palms to try to get a better idea of the taste, since we find it nice but not $75 nice. Lots of tannins, so perhaps it would age well. I decide to use a phrase I’ve seen lots of times, “It shows promise.” My husband says you’d have to have an awful lot of faith in promises to buy it at that price.
- 2014 East End Syrah $18.95
Finally, a wine I really like! The menu—and our server—describe this as having been made in the “feminine style,” and therefore “not jammy.” The aroma is of warm spices, like cardamom, and dark fruit, the taste is dry but fruity. This would also pair well with lamb chops (maybe from 8 Hands Farm), but you wouldn’t want it with a very strong-flavored entrée, since it would be overwhelmed. If we needed a red, I could see getting a bottle of this.
Reasons to visit: come in the summer, when you can sit outside and enjoy music and snacks, like their wood-oven-baked flatbreads; the East End Syrah; in the past, we’ve liked their East End Sauvignon Blanc.