We had been to the Greenport Maritime Festival, where we watched pint-size mermaids parade and cruised past booths offering art, food, lavender, and more. Now it was time to continue the festive mood by bringing our guests to a winery, and we decided on Laurel Lake, which we had not been to in more than a year. One reason we hadn’t been there sooner was that the last time we tried to go they were about to close for a wedding. This time they were also going to close for a wedding, but we had more than an hour for our tasting, so in we went.
The tasting room is pleasant, with an antique bar at one end and plenty of tables, all of which were empty. We opined that everyone on the North Fork was probably at the Greenport Festival or apple picking at Harbes. Then the server behind the bar suggested we seat ourselves near the outside bar, where we had never been. Out we went, to find long tables in the shade, a few more customers, and a very genial server who timed his visits to our table perfectly. A look at the attractively rustic setting made it clear why people favor Laurel Lake as a wedding venue. A food truck run by CJ’s restaurant was parked near us, but we had already had lunch in Greenport.
Laurel Lake offers an extensive menu, of seven whites and nine reds, and a tasting consists of four tastes for $15. By some judicious selecting and sharing, our group of six was able to taste many of the offerings. Each couple shared a tasting, and then we gave each other sips. Overall, we tended to prefer the whites to the reds, but the reds do have the advantage, rare on the North Fork, of being mostly reasonably priced. One nice touch—our server brought us clean glasses for each taste. That’s such a great idea. So often they either pour the next taste right into your glass, where it may be affected by the previous wine, or they rinse it with water, which runs the risk of wine that tastes like chlorine. One other clever method is when they rinse your glass with a few drops of the next taste, though that seems a tad wasteful to me. I hate to see wine being poured into a dump bucket!
- 2016 Pinot Gris $22.99
We hadn’t yet settled on a sharing method, so two of us ordered this. I tend to like pinot gris (a.k.a. pinot grigio), and this one was no exception. It smells a bit like pineapple juice, and tastes a bit like it, too. It is tart, with notes of mineral and salt. Our daughter-in-law, who is good at thinking about wine and food pairings, thought it would go well with something made with capers. How about smoked salmon with capers, we asked. Yes. Very buyable.
- 2014 Chardonnay Estate Reserve $23.99
Their oak aged chard, this has the expected aromas of vanilla and wood or caramel, with some citrus flavors. Interestingly, this one also tasted of pineapple, but in this case of very ripe pineapple. Food pairing? How about pork with pineapple.
- 2016 Sauvignon Blanc $22.99
This new release is light, crisp, and lemony, with some tastes of grilled peaches. A nice summer wine, it might pair well with a salad with grilled peaches.
- 2014 Gewürztraminer $22.99
Our server informed us that this is their “third sweetest white.” Though I am not a fan of sweet wines, this one is well-balanced enough that, with, let us say, spicy Thai food, it would be fine. I smell flowers and something metallic, and taste oranges.
- Moscato Sparkling $24.99
One member of our group prefers sweet wines to dry, and he was very pleased with this sparkler. It is sweet, with strawberry and melon tastes and a candy-like aroma. Perhaps one could drink it with a chocolate soufflé?
- Wind Song Red $17.99
Fair warning—we are told this is their sweetest red. Our server explains that they make it by blending all the leftovers from other wines, and it has no vintage because it could contain juice from various years. I would say this was not a successful blend, as it has a somewhat medicinal taste, like Cheracol cough syrup.
- 2013 Pinot Noir Reserve $29.99
Another newly bottled release, this was aged in used oak barrels, so it does not have the flavors you get from oak. Some say the nice aspect of this is you get the pure taste of the grape. We find it rather flat and one-dimensional, though not unpleasant. Perhaps one could drink this with molé, as it is a light red. Not caring for this or the previous red, our guests try their own blend, mixing the two. Not a success.
- 2012 Merlot Estate $19.99
Better. Whew. A pretty typical oak-aged merlot, with cherry aromas and taste and some tannins.
- 2013 Syrah $19.99
Two-thirds of us agree that we like this one. It has tastes of plums, pepper, and nutmeg, plus some nice tannins. Someone suggested pairing it with moussaka. Sounds good to me.
- 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $19.99
Interestingly, this is aged in steel. It is an easy to drink, fresh-tasting pizza wine, with soft tannins, and fruity aromas and tastes.
- 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $25.99
As the afternoon progressed, our server became more and more chatty, and he described the interesting method used to make this wine. They take two-thirds of the cab sauv to make rosé, and they take the skins from that plus the rest of the grapes to make this wine, which is then aged in used oak. It has a “dark richness,” said someone, not sure who. It is dry, not as fruity as you might expect given how it is made, with some nice tannins. I wonder how it would age.
Reasons to visit: pretty setting, inside and out; the Pinot Gris, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Syrah, the Cabernet Sauvignon; reasonably priced wines for Long Island, especially the reds; food truck.