Clovis Point: Good Things Come in Small Packages            September 3, 2017

http://www.clovispointwines.com/

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“We’re small,” said our very well-informed multi-tasking server, “only 3,500 cases per year.”  She added that they have just eight acres of vines, and we discussed the issues Croteaux is having with Southold town over how many acres you need to have in order to do a tasting room.  But Clovis Point is in the town of Riverhead, so no problem.  Small also describes the one-ounce pour (which she warned us about in advance), but not the reputation of this boutique winery, which has garnered a number of high ratings from wine judges.

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One view of the pleasant tasting room

The tasting room, a former potato barn, is a nice size, and there is also a covered porch to one side.  The walls are adorned with a display of art for sale, so the space functions as a gallery as well.  The flower garden leading to the door is also esthetically pleasing!

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The art on the walls is for sale.

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Some of the pretty flowers by the entrance

The menu offers two flights:  a Cold Flight of four wines for $13 and a Red Flight of four reds for $15, plus a few premium wines at $5 per taste.  We were with friends, and decided each couple would do all eight wines, given that the pour is so small.  We also bought a generous tray of Spanish cheeses and baguette slices for $12, plus an eight-dollar jar of delicious fig spread, much of which we took home.  While we often don’t order food with our tastings, it is true that having wine with food enhances the experience.

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We had pretty much decimated the cheese plate before I thought to take a picture. It was very good.

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Some nice options on the snack menu

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc $28

“This is a seasonal wine,” our server informed us, “and we usually sell out of it by winter.”  I can see why, as it is a light, easy to drink summery wine, with a floral and mineral aroma and peach taste.  Steel fermented, it is tart and dry.

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  1. 2015 Chardonnay $25

Another steel-fermented wine, this chardonnay is mixed with 3% gewürztraminer, which might account for a touch of pineapple taste.  The aroma is mineral, earth, and pine, and our friend says it tastes like a Granny Smith apple to her.  We agree.  Our server explains that because it is steel fermented it does not undergo malolactic fermentation, and therefore gives you the “pure expression” of the grape.

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The arrowhead on the label is a Clovis point, a type of prehistoric arrowhead.

  1. 2015 Black Label Chardonnay $28

A nice touch—before each new taste, the server rinses the glass with a bit of the next wine.  This is better than when they rinse the glasses with water, as a little water always is left behind and can influence the taste of the wine.  And when they don’t rinse the glasses at all, you may get a bit of the previous wine mixing with your next taste.  In any event, this chardonnay is a mixture of steel and oak fermented wine, so it is not heavily oaked.  Not being fans of oaky chards, we are pleased with this one, which has lots of citrus taste and only a touch of vanilla.  It’s not fruity.

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You can see how small the pour is.

  1. Rosé $22.50

Also seasonal, according to our server, the rosé tends to sell out by the end of summer.  It is composed of 100% cabernet franc, and is made by the saignée method, where the grapes sit on the skins for three days.  This is such a light rosé that we agree one might, if tasting it with eyes closed, not know it was a rosé.  It’s steel fermented and quite dry, with only a faint strawberry aroma and a taste more like raspberry than strawberry.

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  1. 2014 Merlot $29

All the reds are aged in either French or Hungarian oak, we are told, as our server puts out fresh glasses for the red tasting.  A blend of 85% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 2% syrah, 2% malbec, 2% petit verdot, and 1% cabernet sauvignon, this is not as complex or deep as one would think given all the ingredients.  However, it is a good merlot, dry and pleasant to drink.  “It’s my after work wine,” notes our server.  Yes, it would be relaxing to sit and sip a glass of this, perhaps with some cheese.

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They have two bars for when the room gets busy.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $35

Yum.  This time I agree with Robert Parker, who has given this wine a score of 90%.  A blend of 96% cabernet franc with 3% cabernet sauvignon and 1% petit verdot, this has fascinating aromas of mushroom, forest, and smoke, plus what our friend describes as “really ripe plums.”  It is delicious, dry at the end with some nice tannins, tasting of over-ripe cherries.  Nicely complex.  If I were here for a music event, this is the wine I would get by the glass.

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You can see how small the bottle is for the Syrah and the Malbec.

  1. 2014 Syrah $34

Syrah is usually blended with other wines, but Clovis Point decided to try bottling it by itself.  Since they didn’t have that much of it, they also decided to use 500 ml. bottles, so that price is quite high.  I insist that it smells like black olives, and my friend adds that it actually smells meaty.  It is dry, tannic, and spicy.  I like it.

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  1. 2014 Malbec $34

Meh.  Another 500ml. bottle, this is a blend of 94% malbec, plus 4% merlot, 1% cabernet sauvignon, and 1% syrah.  It has a nice fruity aroma, but the wine itself is rather light, with no depth.  “Flat,” says my friend.  I add that it lacks body.

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A view of the porch

Reasons to visit:  small winery with a nice room and some good choices; the 2015 chardonnay, the Black Label chardonnay, the 2014 Cabernet Franc; you are the designated driver but you want to taste the wines where the pour is small.

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The grapes are starting to ripen.

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Jamesport Farm Brewery: Playing It Safe                            September 2, 2017

https://www.jfbrewery.com/

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We’d been watching the sign on Sound Avenue as it kept reading “Coming Soon,” so when we saw that Jamesport Farm Brewery, the newest brewery in town, was open for tastings, we wanted to check it out.  Then when visitors arrived at our house who appreciate both wine and beer, we knew it was time.  So off we went, up the bumpy road and past a somewhat misleading sign that seems to send you left when the tasting room is on the right.  The parking lot and surrounding area is still a work in progress, but the tasting room is quite ready for guests, and so is the expansive lawn outside, where children romped and groups clustered around umbrella tables with pints of beer.  A food truck offered lunch items, but we headed into the large room and sauntered up to the bar.  We were glad we had arrived early, since by the time we left there was a line for the bar.

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The menu on a large chalkboard offers seven different beers, plus a couple of ciders from Riverhead Cider House and a Palmer chardonnay.  A tasting of four is $10; pints are $6 each, and you can also refill your growler for $15 ($5 for the bottle).  We decided to get two tastings so we could try all the beers, with one member of the group preferring Captain Cook’s Razzmatazz for his choice.  That’s a raspberry-flavored cider that he liked but tastes to me like flavored children’s medicine.  In general, we liked the beers, but felt that they were somewhat ordinary.  A small brewery could take more chances with at least some of their brews.

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Our server was enthusiastic and friendly, offering her opinions on our choices and suggesting an order in which to taste them which was not exactly the order on the board, and we felt she did a good job.  The beers list the alcohol content, which can vary quite a bit.  Each serving fills a small glass.  By the way, the word “farm” in the name of the brewery is not just for decoration:  many of the ingredients for the beers—and in some cases all the ingredients—are grown on the premises.  they grow hops and barley, among other ingredients.  You can take a tractor-drawn tour to check out the farm, $15 with a pint and $10 without one, and we saw a group heading out for one as we left.  Even the bar is built using locally sourced recycled materials!

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  1. Haybaler           5.4

An American pale ale made from 90% homegrown ingredients, this first choice was a not complex, light, slightly citrusy ale.  Our friend said she could see drinking it on the beach, as it would be a pleasant hot weather quaff.

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One of the offerings in the gift shop.

  1. Sound Avenue Summer              5.5

With this blonde ale we had a difference of opinion.  Our friend said if she had a pint of this she wouldn’t finish it, while I liked its yeasty, honey, bready taste.  I opined that it would make “a good breakfast beer,” while she said it was not “beery” enough.

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  1. Rows ‘n Hoes 6.6

When we inquired as to the name, our server chuckled and said it fit with “the farm theme,” adding that this was a “smooth” IPA than the Northville, which we tasted next to it.  It uses all New York State-sourced ingredients.  We detected tastes of smoke and tobacco, and found it not as hoppy as one would expect from an IPA, and more like an ale.  Again, we had a difference of opinion, as I liked it more than my friend did.  However, she said she could see drinking it with braised beef, where its bitterness would complement the richness of the dish.

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Food truck menu

  1. Northville IPA 5.2

“Beer,” opined my friend, “should have a beery taste.”  And this one did, meeting with general approval as having a hoppy, grassy, citrusy taste.  She also said it reminded her of a Session ale.  Because it was brewed specially for the grand opening, it may not always be available.  Breweries do tend to vary their offerings by the season, and our server told us that their pumpkin ale would be arriving soon.  Of course.

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Our favorite local pickles: try “Dill Death do us Part.”

  1. Ribbit Red Ale 6.3

This is made by a different brewery which shares the premises with Jamesport, called Tweaking Frog.  We had a discussion over whether New York State would allow Tweaking Frog to use the word tweaking, since you’re not allowed to use names for alcoholic products which imply that they will affect your take on reality (or something like that).  In any event, this American Amber/Red ale is heavy on the yeast, with a slightly caramelized flavor, almost malty.  I like it and my friend didn’t dislike it.

  1. Ex-Wife 5.8

Apparently, the ex-wife is bitter, because this is an “Extra Special Bitter,” also made by Tweaking Frog.  It does leave a bitter taste, but is surprisingly light for a bitter.  Our friend who is drinking the raspberry cider likes this one.

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  1. Barnswallow Brown 5.3

My favorite of the day, this is a Brown Ale that is sweet and dark, with a burnt toast aroma and chocolate flavor.  I prefer a heavier dark beer, like Guinness, but this would do.  If I were getting a pint, this is what I would choose.

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The cider

  1. Captain Cook’s Razzmatazz

Raspberry flavored cider that tastes like flavored children’s medicine, from the Riverhead Cider House.

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Reasons to visit:  you want to check out the new brewery in town; tractor tours; a pleasant place to hoist a pint, especially the outside area; you have dogs or children in tow; Greenport Harbor is full; the Northville IPA and the Barnswallow Brown, plus the Haybaler if it is a hot day; a nice gift shop where you can buy the equipment to make your own beer.

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You can buy a kit and learn to make your own beer, but beware–many owners of breweries started this way!

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