Bridge Lane Winery: Cans and Boxes and Kegs, Oh My!
If you ever want to have a wine kegger, Bridge Lane is the winery for you. Or let’s say you want to take a can of wine to the beach. Yes, they have those. And boxes of wine. Oh yes, bottles, too. Bridge Lane is the less-expensive, more populist line of wines made by Lieb Cellars. Their wine maker, Russell Hearn, also has his own line-up of wines which you can sample at his tasting room in Cutchogue, Suhru Cellars. (https://www.suhruwines.com/ ) He must be a busy man!
Last September we went with friends to Lieb Cellars’ tasting room on Oregon Road, and tasted both the Lieb label wines and the Bridge Lane wines. We much preferred the Lieb wines. In June we went to the newly opened Suhru Cellars and liked their wines even better. However, there is nothing wrong with the Bridge Lane wines, if you want simple, light inexpensive wines. All of Bridge Lane’s wines cost $20 per bottle. (A keg holds 130 glasses for $240 and each can provides two glasses for $9.)
Fittingly, not only do all the wines cost the same, the taste profile is remarkably similar. In fact, my husband observed that he would be hard pressed to tell one white from another. They are all citrusy and minerally and light.
The differences among the wines of the three venues extend to the tasting rooms, as well. Bridge Lane’s is a simple square, with a bar along one wall and banquettes along two others, with brightly painted picnic tables outside. Lieb Cellars’ tasting room is more elegant, with table service and a deck overlooking rural Oregon Road. Suhru’s newly opened “tasting house” is in what had been a house, and is homey and beachy. Bridge Lane allows picnics and dogs, while the other two do not (except at Lieb on the outside patio). Suhru offers snacks from Touch of Venice restaurant across the street, and Lieb has an extensive menu of snacks, while Bridge Lane offers only a few snacks.
We arrived at Bridge Lane on a September Sunday afternoon, when many of the wineries were crowded and traffic clogged the approach to Harbes Orchard. At Bridge Lane we encountered a large party of women—not sure if it was a group of friends or a bachelorette celebration—and one other couple who decided to brave the September chill to take their tastes outside. After the large group left, it was quite quiet.
A tasting consists of five tastes for $15. You can also taste a few of the Lieb Reserve wines at $4 per taste, or opt for a glass or bottle. They serve you three and then two of your tastes at once, on a clearly labeled round tray in nice rounded-bottom glasses. There’s a self-serve container of water at one end of the bar.
- White Merlot
We get a very faint citrus aroma from this white wine made from red merlot grapes. The taste is of grapefruit and minerals, and is pleasant and light. It would be fine with some Peconic Bay scallops.
A steel-fermented chard, this actually smells a bit metallic. I taste pineapple, though the tasting notes say stone fruit and green apple. Maybe a little green apple…but if by stone fruit they mean peaches and apricots, I don’t get it. My tasting buddy asserts that “ten seconds in, it gets sweet.”
- Sauvignon Blanc
Another light, tart, citrusy, easy-to-drink white, this one would go well with oysters. Maybe barbequed oysters?
As one would expect, the rosé has an aroma of strawberry, but sweeter, more like strawberry jam. There’s also a touch of smokiness. Again, this is light, with the citrus this time reminiscent of pink grapefruit. I could see having it with an herbed goat cheese from Catapano.
- Red Blend
This is their Bordeaux blend, of 65% merlot, 25% cabernet franc, 6% cabernet sauvignon, and 4% petit verdot, aged six months in Hungarian oak. It smells like a combination of cherries, smoke, and wood. When we sip, we decide we can taste the wood as well, plus a fair amount of tannins which make us wonder if this would be better after a couple of years. We also taste black cherry. My husband describes it as “sour.” Not a great red, but easy to drink, it could go with lamb chops.
Lieb Cellars Reserve 2015 Petit Verdot $35
I want to end with something better, so we order a taste of the Lieb Petit Verdot. As the server opens the bottle, I notice that it has a screw cap. The Bridge Lane wines had been on tap, so I ask her if all the wines have screw tops. Yes, they do. The Petit Verdot is aged ten months in Hungarian oak, and has an aroma of blackberries and dark fruit. It tastes of black cherry with a greater depth of flavor than the Red Blend. There’s a pleasant softness to it, and enough tannins that I think it could be aged. My husband and I simultaneously decide it would go well with barbequed ribs.
Reasons to visit: You want somewhere to take your picnic lunch where you can sit outside and drink some inexpensive wines; you are having a big party and need a keg of wine, or maybe a couple of boxes; you want to take a four-pack of cans of wine on your boat; the chardonnay, or any of the wines if you want something light and uncomplicated.