Kontokosta: The Far East August 28, 2018

Kontokosta: The Far East              August 28, 2018

https://kontokostawinery.com/

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Don’t be fooled by the weathered barn look; this is a fairly recently built tasting room.

East of Greenport sits the last winery on the North Fork wine trail:  Kontokosta.  We were there on yet another of the ridiculously hot and humid days of this hot and humid August, but a small contingent of our party braved the heat to hike the property to a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound.  Then they returned to the tasting room, red-cheeked and sweaty, to be revived with Kontokosta’s own sparkling water and grape soda.  It may have been the effect of the heat, but one member of our party who describes herself as a “grape soda connoisseur” said it was the best grape soda she’d ever had.

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That’s the Long Island Sound in the distance. It was really hot out there!

 

The rest of us stayed inside and shared tastings and glasses of wine, enjoying the air-conditioning and the company of each other—and the wine.  We sat at one of the long tables in Kontokosta’s airy, modern tasting room, transporting our tastings to the table ourselves.  A tasting consists of your choice of any three of their twelve wines for $16.  My husband and I decided that we would share a tasting of three whites and another of three reds, since it is a one-ounce pour.  So clearly, we could return for a completely different set of six tastes, which we may yet do.

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Part of the bar area.

They also offer a menu of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.  No dogs or outside food allowed.

  1. 2017 Viognier   $25

The aroma is sweet, of honeysuckle and peach, and the taste has some peachiness as well.  One friend described it as an “unctuous peachiness,” and we went on the discuss its appropriateness as an aperitif.  “It’s a crowd pleaser,” he said.  We also thought it would pair well with a chicken dish that had either a white sauce of something citrusy, or perhaps charcuterie.  It’s a refreshing, pleasant white.

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Our three whites. We took the glasses to a table.

  1. 2016 Field Blend $22

A field blend means just what it sounds like—a blend of various grapes, all grown in the same field.  This one blends 50% riesling, 30% viognier, and 20% sauvignon blanc.  The aroma is mostly mineral, and the wine itself is super dry, rather tart, with not much fruit.  It really needs to be drunk with food, but since we had just had a big delicious lunch at the Olive Branch café in Greenport, we were not about to buy any snacks.  We were not particularly fond of this one.

  1. 2014 Anemometer White $35

Another blend, this time of 45% chardonnay, 40% sauvignon blanc, and 15% viognier, Anemometer (the name a reference to the windmill which provides much of their power) is aged in neutral French oak, so it is not too oaky.  There is a subtle vanilla aroma, but also minerality.  One friend compares it to a Chablis, not surprising given the chardonnay in it.  The taste combines minerality, pineapple, some tropical fruit, and a touch of saltiness.  I don’t usually like oaked chardonnays, but this one has only a hint of butteriness.  Our friend says it is rather rich for a white, and could actually go with a steak, albeit not one with a lot of taste.  Maybe a filet mignon with a sauce that included some of the wine?

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The reds.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $29

Now we move on to our second group of three, the reds.  We asked the server for her recommendations, not having any reason to choose one red over another, and this was her first pick, as she noted it scored 90 points in Wine Enthusiast.  It’s good, fairly light for a red, with lots of fruit aroma and dried fruit tastes, with some tannins.

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One part of the tasting room, looking towards the door.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve $40

I often wonder about wines labeled “reserve,” and priced higher than the same grape from the same place.  However, this wine is actually better than the previous one.  The aroma combines dark fruits like black cherry, plus pepper.  It has more character than the other cab franc, and is softer and less tannic.  It would go well with duck, like the duck breasts from Bayview we plan to barbeque that evening.

  1. 2014 Anemometer Red $50

When they first opened, the anemometers were their least expensive wines, but now they are the most expensive.  This one is a blend of 40% cabernet franc, 22% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 18% syrah, which makes it their Bordeaux type.  Meh.  I much prefer the Cabernet Franc Reserve.  Not a lot of fruit to this one, nor is it at all complex.  One friend notes that it is “not challenging to drink,” and reminds him of a rioja.  Lots of tannins, so maybe given time…

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Now there’s something you don’t see at every winery.

Reasons to visit:  pretty setting on the shore of Long Island Sound; modern, airy tasting room; menu of snacks; the Viognier and the Cabernet Franc Reserve; the grape soda.

Kontokosta Winery: Simply Good March 28, 2015

http://kontokostawinery.com/

kont building

Kontakosta’s motto—“Sound Life.  Sound Wine.”—is a nice play on words, since they are situated on a high bluff overlooking Long Island Sound and they also follow ecologically sensitive practices—such as generating their electricity through the use of a windmill.  The wine is, in general, quite nice.  We also speculated whether some of the briny, mineral tastes in the wines might come from their waterfront location.

One side of the tasting room

One side of the tasting room

The tasting room is a beautifully spare space, all white and black, with large windows looking out over the vineyards.  There’s a bar at one end and long tables for those who prefer to sit, plus an upper balcony.  Our group of four opted for the bar, where we found very informative and engaging servers.  The tasting menu offers two flights, one of five whites for $14 and another of five reds, also $14.  We decided that each couple would do one of each, sharing as we went.  We also shared a cheese tray, which consisted of a very generous and tasty block of Toussaint raw cow milk cheese and a sleeve of crackers for $12.

Looking up to the balcony

Looking up to the balcony

We started with the whites.

  1. NV Anemometer White                              $16

This is their table white, made from sauvignon blanc grapes from various vintages.  Our friend said it smelled like a lemon bar, which was quite accurate.  We also detected some vegetable aromas and some minerality.  The taste was also somewhat lemony and mineral, tart but not terribly crisp.  We all agreed it would go well with oysters.  (The name anemometer, by the way, refers to a device that measures wind speed, an indirect homage to their windmill.)

The Anemometer White

The Anemometer White

  1. 2013 Orient Chardonnay $22

Before we could ask, our server volunteered the information that it is called Orient because the grapes come from Sargon Vineyard, out in Orient.  A steel-fermented chard, this has typical honeysuckle and orange aromas and some gooseberry flavor.  My husband found it too mineral, with some wet rock flavors (whatever that tastes like), but the rest of us liked it.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $25

“This is made in the Sancerre style,” volunteered our server, “And it won a gold medal!”  We sniff and agree:  pineapple and mango on the nose and in the mouth.  Nice, though a bit sweet, but it goes well with the cheese.

We took home about a third of the cheese

We took home about a third of the cheese

  1. 2013 Viognier $25

“This is my favorite wine to go with that cheese,” enthuses our server, and we agree with her wholeheartedly.  The aroma reminds me of these wonderful cantaloupe-type melons called Hand Melons we used to get upstate, and the wine also has some cantaloupe tastes.

  1. 2012 Viognier

Observing how serious we are about our tasting, our server pours us each an extra taste, of the 2012 Viognier, which is almost sold out, and which she says is her favorite of the whites.  Interestingly, this has a sweeter aroma and taste than the 2013, though still lots of cantaloupe, with more floral notes.  It’s a more challenging wine, observes my husband.

  1. 2013 Dry Riesling $22

This has only .06% sugar, we are told, which means it is most definitely a dry riesling.  They used to have an off-dry riesling for those who come in and request “the sweetest white you have,” but they no longer make it.  This is definitely a dry riesling, with a touch of that cat pee smell (an observation which causes some hilarity among our cat-owning friends) and a simple but pleasant taste.  Delicate, notes our friend.

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  1. Anemometer Red Table Wine $16

Now we move on to the reds, for which we are given new glasses.  This is a blend of 60% cabernet franc and 30% cabernet sauvignon, from various vintages.  We discuss the varying implications of saying an inexpensive table wine vs. a cheap red, and decide this belongs in the former category—especially when we learn they are running a special of 50% off for a case of the red and the white Anemometers.  Our noses detect a hint of ripe olives and “wet laundry,” says my husband, as well as some fruit.  The wine itself is light but “very acceptable,” with lots of nice fruit flavor.  We decide to get a case of eight reds and four whites.

  1. 2007 Blum Merlot $19

Ray Blum had a vineyard in Southold planted in merlot vines, which has since been bought by Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines, so this is the last anyone will have of the Blum Merlot.  It’s a fine, fairly typical North Fork merlot, with a touch of barnyard odor and black cherry taste.  Very nice.

  1. 2010 Estate Merlot $34

Yum.  Aged six months in French oak and six months in steel, this is a really good merlot, with lots of black cherry taste plus a touch of vanilla.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

This one is aged in Hungarian oak.  What’s the difference?  Hungarian oak is cheaper, gives a milder flavor, and is more tightly grained so there’s less evaporation (the “angel’s share”).  This is also yum!  Brambly aroma, lots of layers of flavor, including blackberry.  This is one that could be saved for future drinking.  “Or buy two,” suggests our server, “and drink one now and save the other for later.”

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $40

Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco Wine Challenge competition, we are told.  Hmmm.  This is a dry red, with aromas of pepper and nutmeg and mixed berry tastes.  “It has no gravitas,” opines my tasting buddy.

The bar

The bar

Reasons to go:  Beautiful tasting room overlooking the Sound, which you can walk to in good weather; knowledgeable servers; the Anemometer wines if you need to buy some decent table wines for everyday drinking; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Viognier, the Estate Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also sell olive oil—not made locally!  However, we are headed to Greenport to check out Vines and Branches’ new digs, so we decline to try the olive oil.

They have a small selection of gift items.

They have a small selection of gift items.

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The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

Kontokosta Winery June 23, 2013

http://www.kontokostawines.com/

Kontokosta building

One great aspect of choosing to write about North Fork wineries for a blog is that there is not much risk of running out of material.  Not only do wineries change their offerings with each new harvest—necessitating return visits—but new wineries are constantly springing up.  Case in point, as Rod Serling liked to say, Kontokosta Winery in Greenport, which opened its very attractive doors on June 12th.  As you head east towards Orient Point on Sound Avenue you pass a flashing light, where you could turn to head into Greenport.  Instead, stay straight and you’ll come to a gate on your left, which leads to a long gravel drive and then to a parking lot next to a large imposing building, bracketed by vines, a view of Long Island Sound, and a tall windmill, about which more later.Kontokosta insideKontokosta interior

Inside, the spacious tasting room is sleekly modern in style, with a serene black and white color scheme. We note several tables where a happy party is taking photos of themselves and a long tasting bar.  We find a space at the bar, where a lovely young woman explains the choices to us.  All the servers are clad in black shirts with the Kontokostas logo on the chest, a discreet three red bars.  One of the servers is a gentleman we recognize from several other venues, including the Tasting Room and Empire Cellars, and he assures us we are about to experience some terrific wines.  A tasting consists of four one ounce pours for $10, chosen from a menu of ten wines, five white and five red.  There’s also a three-pour tasting and wines by the glass.   We opt for two four-wine flights, one of white and then one of red, both of which we share, skipping the rosé and the Blum Merlot.

Kontokosta white

  1.  NV Anemometer White                                              $16

Why Anemometer, we ask, noticing the representation of a spinning anemometer on the bottle?  The winery is very proud of its use of wind power, our server notes, and in fact everything on the property is powered by wind.  Our friend from other venues notes that on a very windy day you can see the electric meter spin backward, so that LIPA ends up owing them money.  On to the wine, which is a blend, though primarily sauvignon blanc.  Refreshing, we agree, with an aroma of Meyer lemon and mineral, with tastes of citrus and honeysuckle at the end.  This would be good for summer sipping, and also would go well with turkey dishes.  Very buyable!

2.  2009 Orient Chardonnay                               $17

The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard in Orient, hence the name.  A lightly oaked chard, this is just okay, and a bit sour.  There’s plenty of orangey-lemon tastes, and some oak at the end, but we don’t find it particularly pleasant.

3.  2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $25

Not surprisingly, we find this wine reminds us of the Anemometer White, though with some different tastes.  Overall it is a bit sweet for us, with aromas of honeysuckle and green plum and tastes of wildflower honey with a vegetal note at the end.  My husband says green beans…not sure I agree.  This is the first wine they made here.

4.  2010 Viognier                                    $25

Bedell is the only other North Fork winery to use this grape, so we are interested to see how it compares.  At Bedell we had their 2011 Viognier, which we found very pleasing, with complex spicy fruit and citrus flavors.  This one has aromas of blood orange and peach, with peachy tastes and some tannins, but not so complex.

Kontokosta red

5.  Anemometer Red 2006                 $19

I would expect this to be a blend, but it is 100% syrah, we are told.  The aroma has some of that East End barnyard smell, plus red berry, and the taste reminds us of red sucking candy.  While not for sipping, this would be okay with food, such as pork chops.

6.  2010 Cabernet Sauvignon            $22

We smell ripe berries and plums, and not much earth, and taste lots of fruit, with a nice dry finish.  I’d love this with a nice medium-rare duck breast, and it could stand up to steak as well.

7.  2007 Merlot                                       $29

Again we smell that earthy barnyard aroma, plus some mineral.  This is just okay—dry, with decent fruit, but a bit of a chemical acetone taste at the end.  You could have this with a rich pork dish and it would be fine, but it is overpriced for what it is.

8.  2007 Cabernet Franc                       $29

“This is one of my favorites,” enthuses our server, and we can see why, as it is definitely the best of the reds, with lots of fruit and a lovely aroma of ripe berries, not too sweet but not too dry, either.  Oh, she adds, all the reds are aged in new French oak.

After we finish the wines, we are offered tastes of three olive oils they are selling—all for $28—an extra virgin, a Minneola tangelo and a jalapeῆo lime.  They’re nice, but we’ll stick with Vines and Branches.  We also learn that the winery is proud of its use of recycled materials in its construction, which is partly reflected in their slogan, “Sound Life, Sound Wine,” or as they say on their FaceBook page, “Registered with the USGBC under the LEED New Construction 2009 rating system, our winery has been designed to meet the gold certification level. To meet these high standards, the building is constructed of 100% recycled steel and reclaimed wood siding, and will be powered by wind energy.”

The windmill!

The windmill!

We enjoy the view out the large window to the Long Island Sound on this lovely June day as we wrap up our visit with the purchase of a bottle of the Anemometer White.

Kontokosta view

Reasons to visit:  You’re in Greenport without a car and you’d like to go to a winery; you’ve tried all the others and are looking for a new winery; Anemometer White and 07 Cabernet Franc; the chance to appreciate a lovely view while doing a tasting; you’re on your way to the Hellenic and have some time to kill before dinner.