McCall’s Winery: Here’s the Beef July 21, 2018

http://mccallwines.com/

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Why the reference to beef?  Because in addition to running a winery, the McCalls also raise Charolais cattle, and sell their grass-fed meat at the winery when it is available.

If you look on their website, you will see that they care about the environment and have taken steps to protect and improve it.  They also are careful with their grapes, and, while not certified organic, they do try to minimize the use of chemicals.  They focus mostly on red wines, though they do now have some whites.

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We went there on a breezy Saturday afternoon, and had a debate about whether to sit inside or outside.  Though we ended up inside, quite a few people were sitting under the trees on the lawn.  We did note that as they were served with cheese trays several crackers were gone with the wind.

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“Inside” is a converted stable, where you can actually sit in a cozy former horse stall or at a table in the central area.  We noticed all sorts of horse-related objects—saddles, bits, etc.—hanging on the walls, and a large mural showing the original Native American occupants of the land.

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Next time I go I will ask about that mural.

The menu offers three options:  Blancs, three whites and a rosé for $12; Noble, two whites and two reds for $15; and Reserve, four of their better reds for $19.   Knowing they pride themselves on their reds, we decided to share a tasting of the Reserve wines.  They do a two ounce pour, so sharing one tasting was plenty for us.  Mrs. McCall happened to wait on me, and she was happy to give details on each wine as we took them two by two to our table.  In the past we have also chatted with Mr. McCall, and they are both very pleasant and interesting to talk to.

  1. 2013 Hillside Pinot Noir              $48

Mrs. McCall informed me that they leave these grapes on the vines longer than for their other pinot noir, making for a richer wine.  These particular vines are located on a sloping piece of their property, hence the name.  The East End of Long Island is quite flat, but there are some small hills, including one as you approach Greenport that may not be steep but is long, as I recall every time I ascend it on my bicycle.  Back to the wine.  The aroma is fruity, with some cherry and other dark fruit.  The wine is dry, with some tannins, and pleasant fruit tastes, but is overall rather light, especially in this price range.  I think it would be better with food, and my husband opines that is it “closed,” which he defines unhelpfully as “not opened up.”  Maybe it needs more aging.

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Our first two tastes, plus a view of the lawn.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $48

The vines for this wine are thirty-five years old, and the older the vines the better the wines.  This is certainly a cut above the usual Long Island reds.  I think you could even pass this off as a French wine.  It has some layers of flavor and nice fruit, plus enough tannins that you could probably age it.  On the other hand, it has very little aroma.

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The bottles for the Reserve tasting

  1. 2010 Merlot Reserve $48

Like most Long Island merlots, this has distinct cherry flavors and aromas.  I also think I get a faint whiff of pine, or forest.  This is another pleasant wine that doesn’t seem worth the price, though we like it.  Not much tannin.

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Ben’s Blend has a beautiful dark color.

  1. 2013 Ben’s Blend $54

Ben was their original winemaker, who sadly died rather young, so they commemorate him in the name of their Bordeaux blend.  It is 50% merlot, 25% cabernet franc, plus smaller amounts of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot.  The wine has a beautiful dark color, but is not as rich as one might expect.  The aroma is fruity, with also some funkiness like a forest floor.  The taste is good, not great, but again, maybe it could still age some more.  It feels like it doesn’t quite come together.  My husband thinks it would have gone well with our dinner last night of spaghetti with Italian sausage–or maybe with a steak from the McCalls’ herd.

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Beef

Reasons to visit:  uncrowded setting (limos only by appointment) with a pleasant outdoor area and interesting indoor setting;  the reds, especially the cabernet franc; you can also buy grass-fed beef to take home; no outside food on the weekends, but they do offer a generous cheese tray for $20 (and if a few crackers blow away they bring you extras).  I didn’t ask about dogs, but we saw one couple bringing theirs to the outside area.

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McCall’s Wines 8/31/13

http://www.mccallwines.com/

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After an excursion to Westhampton Beach for an art show, and a visit to a friend’s house for a smaller art show, it was time for a different type of art, so off we went to McCall’s Winery.  Mr. McCall does treat wine-making as an art, concentrating for the most part on producing some of the best reds around, with only a few whites.  He and Mrs. McCall were both on hand, which was fortunate, as there was quite a crowd, including at least one bachelorette party (we could tell by the white veil on her head…).  As Mr. McCall had told us on an earlier (much less crowded) visit, he used to be a Coca-Cola distributor, but then became interested in wine making.  In addition to his vines, he also tends a herd of grass-fed cattle one can see munching said grass in a field next to the winery, and whose meat can sometimes be bought at Love Lane Market.  I described the tasting room, in a repurposed stable, in an earlier entry, and most people are out on the grass at picnic tables.

The tasting menu now offers four levels of flights:  Vintner, at three two-ounce tastes for $8; Cellar Master, with three for $10; Premium, at three tastes for $10; and Estate, at four for $16.  We decide to share two flights, the Premium and the Estate.  Mrs. McCall is serving us, and she carefully monitors the order of our wines, interspersing the two flights for the best path through the tastings.  As a result, I have marked the wines from the Estate flight with *.

  1.  2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                   $24

We start with the only white we’ve tasted at this winery, and it is quite pleasant, with aromas of honeysuckle and citrus, and a taste that combines wildflower honey and kumquat, with some minerality.  It is somewhat tart.  Mrs. M. admits she’s never tasted a kumquat, and we decide this does not taste like the candied ones one gets, but rather like a fresh one.

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2.  *2010 Pinot Noir                                            $45

We thought we’d be moving on to the Cab Franc, but Mrs. M. suggests we have this instead, as it is fruitier.  And indeed it is.  “Mmmm,” we both say.  The day before we had bought some lovely purple plums at Briermere (along with the obligatory pie), and there is a flavor here that reminds me of them, plus a hint of cinnamon.  Robust, they call it.  Yes, indeed.

3. *2010 Pinot Noir Reserve                            $60

I love doing this—tasting two wines from the same varietal in succession.  So interesting.  This one was aged an additional six months in French oak, and we overhear Mr. McCall saying that 2010 was the best year for his wines so far.  This is really good, and right up there with other high-priced wines in its taste and complexity.  It has much more depth than the other Pinot Noir, with aromas of coffee and chocolate and lots of dark fruit.  I bet you could cellar this one.

4.  2011 Cabernet Franc                                      $28

Now we get the Cab Franc, which is our least favorite of the day.  We smell a brambley aroma, and some tastes of blackberry, but also a bit of an olive taste, which is somewhat off-putting.

5.  *2007 Merlot                                                     $30

Poetically, my husband compares the aroma to the woods at dawn, evoking memories of when we used to go camping, and I would step out of the tent and inhale that dewy scent.  As we agreed the last time we were here, this is definitely better than most North Fork Merlots, with very cherry tastes and good tannins and structure.  Buyable, though we don’t buy any this time.

6.  2008 Merlot Reserve                                      $28

We can see why McCall’s began their wine-making with the ’07 vintage, since it is certainly better than the ’08.  This one has a bit of the barnyard smell and taste one often finds out East, and is a light wine with some pepper at the end.  Perhaps with more time…

7.  *2007 Ben’s Blend                                           $54

This Bordeaux blend is named in honor of their winemaker, who sadly passed away.  However, this is quite a legacy.  The blend is 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  We detect scents of cedar and forest, with lots of tastes of berries and plums, plus some chocolate.  I could definitely see cellaring this one.

Mr. McCall chats with his guests.

Mr. McCall chats with his guests.

Reasons to visit:  some of the best reds on Long Island, the chance to chat with Mr. McCall, who is quite enthusiastic about his wines; Ben’s Blend and the 07 Merlot; a pleasantly rustic setting.

Grapes protected from the birds with netting

Grapes protected from the birds with netting