Pindar Vineyards: Crowd Pleaser January 26,2019

Pindar Vineyards: Crowd Pleaser              January 26,2019

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https://www.pindar.net/

We thought it was safe, on this cold day in January, to go to Pindar for a quiet tasting.  Nope.  When we entered, a group of young women were having a wonderful but excruciatingly loud time at one end of the bar.  However, we could see that they were almost done, so we stayed and prepaid (as requested) for two tastings.  Halfway into the first five tastes, they left—only to be replaced by two bus loads!  Our server apologetically explained that one group had arrived early for their reservation, while the other arrived late, hence the crowd of almost forty women around the bar.

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Don’t let the serenity of this image fool you. Just off to the right there’s a noisy crowd at the bar.

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We decided we could see why Pindar is popular with the limo group.  The pour is generous, the bottles are reasonably priced, and most of the wines are easy to drink and rather on the sweet side.  That is also true of the other wineries owned by the Damianos family:  Duck Walk and Jason’s.  Though the founder, referred to fondly by staff as “Dr. Dan,” has passed, clearly his legacy lives on.

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The tasting room is large, with several oval bars plus a number of tables, at one of which two women were attempting to enjoy their glasses of wine and a game of Scrabble.  We commiserated about the noise.  By the way, if you need the restroom you need to walk out of the tasting room and across the outdoor porch to find it.

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A tasting consists of five wines for $12, selected from a list of over two dozen wines.  We chose our ten tastes with some help from the well-informed but sorely over-worked server.  He clearly would have liked to hang with us and discuss what we did and did not like, but once the third group arrived, he had plenty of work on his hands.    Not wanting to prolong the experience, we decided not to order a cheese tray, which consists of a cheese you choose from their cooler plus crackers for $10.

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Looks like a fairly pedestrian selection of cheeses.

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  1. 2017 Sauvignon Blanc   $16.99

I generally think of North Fork sauvignon blancs as perfect matches for Peconic Bay oysters.  This one had a promising aroma of Granny Smith apples and lemons, and an initial tart flavor, also of lemon and green apple.  However, it ended a bit too sweet.  We liked it enough to imagine drinking it as an aperitif on a hot day, or pairing it with New England clam chowder, but it lacked that minerality we like with oysters.

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The pretty label has quite a story behind it.

  1. 2017 Viognier $21.99

Not that many NoFo wineries feature viognier, so we knew we wanted to try this one.  The aroma was somewhat funky, and my tasting buddy compared it to wet cardboard.  Fortunately, it tasted better than it smelled, though the taste was rather simple.  “It tastes like white wine,” he declared.  Ha ha.  Basically, it has a sort of generic white wine taste, with some unripe peach flavor.  The label is very pretty, a painting of flowers made by a quadriplegic patient of Dr. Dan.  She made it by holding a brush in her mouth!  Quite an achievement.  Her art also adorns the Syrah.

  1. Autumn Gold $12.99 (or $18.99 for a quart)

Our server explained that this blend of seyval blanc, Cayuga, and chardonnay is “like a pinot grigio.”  That sounded good, since I like pinot grigios.  However, I felt it mainly tasted like a typical North Fork steel-fermented chardonnay, with a combination of citrus and a touch of peach.  Drinkable.

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  1. 2017 Rosé $16.99

Made from pinot meunier grapes, this is a rather sweet rosé.  It has the typical rosé aroma of strawberries, though in this case it reminded me of the smell of a bunch of strawberries macerating in sugar in preparation for being made into strawberry shortcake.  The taste also reminded me of strawberry shortcake, cut with a touch of lemon.

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I should have known that I wouldn’t like this one, based on the description. Oh well.

  1. Spring Splendor $12.99

I was curious to try this because the menu describes it as “fermented with natural American cranberry.”  It has a pretty pink color, tastes like a slightly alcoholic cranberry juice, and I suppose one could use it to make a wine-based cocktail. Too sweet. We dumped the rest of our taste.

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This label reminds us of the 20s-inspired labels at Duck Walk.

  1. 2016 Gamay Noir $18.99

If you are out to dinner and one person orders fish or chicken and the other orders meat, but you want one bottle of wine, this would work.  It is a very light red, like a less fruity Beaujolais.  It is dry, with no tannins, and rather mono-dimensional.  Drinkable.

  1. Pythagoras $16.99

The name of this wine and the name of the winery are nods to the Damianos family’s Greek roots, in case you were wondering why a wine is named for that annoying theorem you had to memorize in high school geometry.  This is their Bordeaux blend—cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, and petit verdot.  The fragrance reminds me of stewed prunes, and the taste also has some purple plum notes.  The wine is dry, with soft tannins, and is good but not deep or complex.  My husband says it is a “teeny tiny Bordeaux.”

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Another pretty label, and our favorite wine of the day.

  1. 2015 Syrah $16.99

This one, as my grandma used to say with the birth of each grandchild, beats the bunch.  Though our server apologetically explains that is it “not as bold or peppery” as some syrahs, we quite like it.  I say it smells like blueberries, and my husband says blackberries.  It tastes of those berries and plums, with nice tannins.  It would go well with lamb—or, we decide, as we buy a bottle, with the eggplant parmesan I’m making for dinner.

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  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $18.99

I say it smells like “forest floor,” and my husband adds “auto repair shop.”  Really?  Then I sniff some more and get it:  rubber, metal, some sort of chemical spray.  Our server notes that he just opened the bottle, and it probably needed more time to breathe.  (Given how many people he is serving at once, he could probably use some time to breathe as well!)  It tastes pretty good, however.  We get dark fruits, cherries, spice, and chocolate.

  1. 2014 Dr. Dan’s Signature Merlot $24.99

We get a new glass for this special wine, which is aged 32 months in French oak and made with grapes from 40-year-old vines.  It smells delicious.  It has the dark cherry taste of North Fork merlots, plus blackberry and a touch of vanilla.  Though it is not complex, it is good.  We decide overall we prefer the reds to the whites.

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If you like raspberry soda, you might like this sparkler.

  1. Raspberry Bubbly (sparkling wine) $21.99

No, this is not a special extra because of the book.  The menu highlights it as a free taste.  It is listed as “’méthode champenoise with raspberry dosage,” and, having noted our likes and dislikes, our server offers this somewhat apologetically.  It tastes like raspberry soda, and one sip is enough for us.  We leave the rest of the taste in the glass, thank our server, and go buy a bottle of the syrah.

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We found this calico cat sunning herself on Pindar’s porch.

Reasons to visit:  it is winter and you are hoping for a quiet tasting—but don’t count on it; the sauvignon blanc, the syrah, the cabernet franc, Dr. Dan’s Signature Merlot; they also serve you need a place that will accommodate a large group.

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Not sure if you can read this, but this hand-written sign was at the entrance to the Pindar driveway.

 

 

 

Long Ireland Beer Company November 2, 2013

http://www.longirelandbrewing.com/

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If you are heading to the North Fork hoping to make a stop at a brewery, I recommend you drive all the way to Greenport and go to the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.  Bypass the Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead unless saving the cost of gas is your primary consideration.  Why?  Let me tell you about my experience at Long Ireland on a warm, sunny November Saturday afternoon.

We found the plain, industrial-style building on Pulaski Street fairly easily (you can just turn onto Pulaski from Main Road), and walked into the equally plain tasting room, packed with mostly twenty-somethings enjoying their beers.  If you just want a lot of beer for not much money, Long Ireland is a bargain.  For $8.00 you get a glass, which you may keep, which holds 3.5 ounces of beer, and you get to try six of their beers on tap.  A bowl of pretzels graces the bar.  They also offer pints for $5.00 and growlers for $15, for most of the offerings, as well as bottles for a few of the beers for $6.

When we finally got the attention of the server—to be fair, there were a fair number of people for two servers to keep up with—we told her we wanted to do a tasting.  “Okay,” she said, plunking two glasses down in front of us.  “How does it work?”  I asked.  “Is there any order to the tastes?”

“No order, “she said. “Just tell me what you want.”

“What can you tell me about the beers?”  I asked, in a vain attempt to figure out which to get.  For an answer, she pointed me to a list of available beers, eleven in all, with the only information on the sheet being the alcoholic content.  I overheard one customer saying to her friend, “Which has the most alcohol?”  Not really my concern.  So we decided in order to get to try all the types we would each get a full tasting, sharing tastes as we went.  Then two choices were deleted.  So we ended up with ten tastes in all, plus one repeat for both of us. At no time did either server tell us anything about the wide variety of beers on offer.

1)       Celtic Ale                           5.5% alcohol

This is a fairly classic ale, not very exciting, not particularly hoppy or interesting, but an okay basic beer.  By the way, in case you haven’t noticed already, there is a definite Irish theme, with Celtic symbols on the taps.

2)      Winter Ale                         7.2%

I don’t know why this is a “winter” ale, but it has a slightly darker color than the Celtic Ale and some citrus notes, though it is a thin-tasting beer.  Both of these are available in bottles.

3)      Wet Hopped Pale Ale

Not on the menu, this one is only available in bottles, and the server opened a bottle and then gave everyone in the room a small taste of it.  We thought it was a good summer beer, very fresh tasting.

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4)      Kolsch                   5%

The taste of this one reminded me of the very ripe grilled pineapple we made for dessert a few weeks ago.  Not very hoppy, it is on the light side of a German-style beer.

5)      Pumpkin Ale                      5%

Inevitable at this season.  Did I want it with a cinnamon sugar rim?  Oh, yes.  Good choice.  The beer itself is just okay, but with the rim it is quite enjoyable.  Like drinking dessert.

The special glass for the pumpkin ale, with a cinnamon sugar rim, which is not the tasting glass.

The special glass for the pumpkin ale, with a cinnamon sugar rim, which is not the tasting glass.

6)      10 Nutty Years                  5%

Do you like Corona?  This has a bit more taste than Corona, but still could have benefitted from a lime.  I wanted to ask about the name, but gave up getting the server’s attention.

7)      E.S.B.                                     6.5%

Though the initials stand for Extra Special Bitter, this is not particularly bitter.  It is like an English bitter, which we came to enjoy on our first visit to England during a warm summer week, when we realized that the bitters tended to be cooler than the other beers on tap.  You can taste the hops in this one, and also a slight wheaty-pancakey flavor.

8)      I.P.A.                                     7.3%

We seem to have reached the initials part of the menu.  India Pale Ale is what these initials stand for, and it is my favorite so far.  On the blackboard it ways “West Coast Style,” but no one tells me what that means.  I’d be happy to drink this with a burger.  This one is also available in a bottle.

9)      Double IPA                         10.5%

Hmmm…sort of funky, a bit of dank cellar, but actually not bad.  It would be good with a sweetish barbecue sauce on ribs.  If you buy this one in a bottle or growler, it costs more than the others.

10)   Breakfast Stout                 3.5%

Back before coffee became the universal breakfast drink, people started the day with some form of alcoholic drink, usually beer or hard cider, both more reliably germ-free than water.  I would guess this is an homage to that custom.  I’m startled by the strong coffee taste, and when I go on Long Ireland’s web site I discover that it is actually made with coffee—and also flaked oats and milk sugar.  Breakfast, indeed.  You could have a pint of this in a cozy pub and enjoy drinking it on its own, though it is certainly no competition for Guinness.

If you’re counting, you realize we should have two more tastes here, but two choices have been taken off the board, so we both opt to end with the Pumpkin Ale, which is at least fun to drink.  Oh, and the servers do rinse your glass with the new taste as a transition between beers, a nice touch.

beer taps

Reasons to visit:

Really none, unless you are determined to go to a beer tasting and you don’t have to time to go to Greenport.  On the other hand, you do get a fair amount of beer for not much money.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company October 5, 2013

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

http://harborbrewing.com/

Hmmm, you think, brewing company?  That doesn’t sound like a winery.  And you’re right.  In honor of Oktoberfest, we decided to go to a brewery tasting room to sample some local beers, and a very good decision it was, too, though quite a few other people had the same idea, making the room a bit crowded.  Greenport Harbor’s brewery and tasting room are located just off Main Street in Greenport, and we often cut across the bank parking lot to get there.  Since they opened, they have moved the tasting room up a steep flight of stairs (labeled the “Stairway to Heaven”—you may start humming now) to a somewhat rustic room with a bar, plus low stools in the center of the space.  Around the walls they display an ever-changing selection of works of art for sale, so the room also functions as an art gallery.  There are also t-shirts, totes, and hats displaying their clever logo—a schematic map of Long Island emphasizing its whale-like shape, with a star for Greenport.

A sign informs us “No pints, just flights,” which is fine with us, as that’s what we’ve come for.  The procedure is that you pay $8.00 for a glass in which they give you your tastes, and then you get to keep the glass.  We’re amassing quite a collection, I must admit.  If you want to take some home, you buy a “Growler” (so named, according to one theory, for the sound the beer makes as it splashes into the container), which they fill from the tap and top with a screw cap, for $19.  Since our last visit they have added a smaller size for $13, which is perfect for two.  The servings are quite generous, and two could even share one tasting.  You get six samples from their ever-changing menu, anchored by the Harbor Ale, which they always feature.

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1.        Greenport Harbor Ale  5.2%

This is a classic American beer, but better than Bud, and would be perfect with baseball and peanuts.  It is nicely hoppy, with some citrus and unripe pineapple notes.

2.       Black Duck Porter  4.9%

Why “black duck?” we ask our server.  She’s not sure, but thinks it is named for the color—which is indeed quite black—and Long Island ducks.  They try to have names which reflect the local color.  I remember fondly one called DisOrient Harbor which they were forced to discontinue.  Apparently the State in its wisdom thinks it is a bad idea to give alcoholic drinks names which reflect an effect they might have.  I really like the Black Duck, which both smells and tastes a bit like espresso, but also dark unsweetened chocolate and spice.  It would be perfect with kielbasi.  Sometimes they make a similar beer called Canard Noir…

3.       Oyster Stout  4.9%

This is another dark beer, but not nearly as strong and full-flavored as the porter.  Dark beer for those who don’t care for dark beer, opines my husband, who also nails the spice taste we’re trying to identify.  Cardamom!  Do we detect a slight fishy smell, or are we influenced by the name?  They suggest it would be good with oysters, and though I generally prefer white wine with those bivalves, this would work since it would not overwhelm them.

4.       Devil’s Plaything IPA  5.5%

“Made exclusively for Salvation Taco,” the sign reads.  We know the spot, a restaurant in Manhattan we walked into and promptly walked out of, unwilling to bear the extreme noise level.  I do hear their tacos are good, and so is this beer.  It is brewed with hot peppers in it, we are told, and we can sense an underlying chili flavor, though it is not spicy.  The aroma reminds me of tomato leaves.  This is not a beer for sipping, as it is a bit sharp, but I can see how its refreshing taste would go well with spicy Mexican or Szechuan dishes.  There’s a touch of citrus, so I can certainly see this with a bowl of guacamole.

5.       Otherside IPA  7.5%

Why Otherside, inquiring minds want to know.  The hops for this one come from the West Coast, is the answer, huge quantities of Apollo, Cascade, Centennial, and Chiana hops.  Befitting its making, we note a complexity of flavor in this very hoppy beer (please, no happy/hoppy puns).  It would be great with a hamburger and chips or fries.

6.       Leaf Pile Ale  5.4%

Halloween is coming, and so is Thanksgiving, so it is time for pumpkin pie—or pumpkin ale.  We do indeed taste cinnamon and nutmeg and some sweetness.  If you don’t particularly like beer, this might be the quaff for you.  I like it better than I thought I would!

After we finish, our server rinses out our glasses and puts in a paper towel to dry them.  We buy a small growler of Black Duck Porter, which we enjoy later that evening with barbecued pork loin.  Excellent combination.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

Reasons to visit:

You’re walking around Greenport and need a break from shopping; you’ve tried all the wineries and are ready for something different; you like artisanal beer; you want some really fresh beer for dinner; you like interesting beers.

Brewery