Paumanok: Almost the Ides March 14, 2019

https://www.paumanok.com/

IMG_6396

Though the entry door was open, it was a bit too chilly to sit outside.

Maybe people were bewaring the Ides of March (about to arrive), or it could have just been a typical winter weekday on the North Fork, but we had the tasting room of Paumanok all to ourselves.  The last time we were there it was a warm, sunny fall day, and we sat outside on the weathered wood deck with family members and their dog, sharing a cheese tray.  That pleasant experience might have influenced how we felt about the wines, which we liked better that time.

IMG_6395

The deck is a pleasant place to sit–in warmer weather!

The tasting menu offers four options:  Winemaker Picks, four for $20; Whites, four for $18, Reds, four for $20, or Festival, four for $15.  We decided to share the Winemaker Picks, since that would give us two reds and two whites. Our enthusiastic and well-informed server set the tastings up on a labeled tray, so we could have carried them to a table, but we opted to stand at the bar so we could discuss the wines.

IMG_6397

As we sipped and chatted, she poured us two glasses of water so we could clear our palates.

IMG_6398

There’s also a fairly extensive snack menu, and they do not allow outside food or drink.  However, as we learned last time, they do allow leashed dogs on the outside patio.  By the way, all the wines except the very high-end ones use screw caps, a boon to waitpersons.

  1. 2014 Blanc de Blancs    $55

The aroma reminded me of the inside of a bakery—very yeasty.  This sparkling wine (made by the traditional méthode champenoise) is dry and light, with nice bubbles.  Made from 100% chardonnay, it is easy to drink, lemony and yeasty, if somewhat monochromatic.  It would go nicely with charcuterie, but I don’t think I’d like it on its own, as a toast.  That said, I’d be more likely to get a Cava or Prosecco, for the price.

IMG_6399

  1. 2018 Chenin Blanc $39

Although the server asserted that they are the only ones to make a 100% chenin blanc wine in New York State, I happen to know that One Woman recently made one as well.  However, her 50 cases would be easy to overlook, so I wouldn’t bother to correct Paumanok.  The aroma is somewhat cellar-like, and the taste has a touch of wet rock, but also lemon and tangerine.  This is a light, dry white that would go well with Coquilles St. Jacques, made with Peconic Bay scallops.  We like it.

IMG_6400

  1. 2014 Merlot $39

This is aged 12-14 months in neutral oak, so it is a fairly light red.  It has some of that dirt aroma merlots tend to have out here, with a touch of cherry.  We’re not fond of the taste, which I liken to licking a metal pole (not that I was ever dumb enough to lick a metal pole in freezing weather).  Though it might be okay with food, we share with the server that we find it lacking in fruit and so tannic that it is mouth-puckering.  So she offers us an additional wine.

IMG_6404

Our extra taste is in the middle.

  1. 2013 Grand Vintage Merlot $50

This is an extra, so our server can show us how they can make a better merlot.  Yes, indeed.  This has depth, nice fruit with cherry flavors that are nonetheless dry.  Very nice.

  1. 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon $39

Nice aroma, we say, combining dark fruit and cedar closet.  It is described on the menu as medium bodied, and I would agree.  It is a pleasant wine, with no depth but good dark fruit tastes and some tannins.  It could go with lamb chops, we decide.

IMG_6405

I love that they quote Whitman on their label!

  1. 2016 Petit Verdot $40

I tend to like petit verdots, so I ask our server to add this additional taste to our flight.  I like this one, too.  It has a red candy aroma, and tastes of prunes (not stewed) and other dark fruits.  Dry, with some nice tannins, it has what my husband describes as “more oomph” than the other reds.

Reasons to visit:  nice outdoor deck where you can bring your dog; good menu of snacks; the Chenin Blanc and the Petit Verdot; screw tops; we’ve always had nice servers here.

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

IMG_4434

https://www.newsday.com/

https://paper.newsday.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=b162131d-f983-4571-8d34-226583242f16&pnum=1

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Newsday ran a nice little piece, “Perfect Pairings,” about wine and food pairings. But they missed an opportunity, which Nofowineaux will attempt to remedy.  For example, they mentioned Peconic Bay oysters, but not the Long Island wines one could drink with them.  So what follows is my own list of the foods and types of wines they mentioned, updated with my own recommendations of local wines to use.

IMG_5532

We get a new red-wine-friendly glass with the reds.

  1. Roast chicken

Newsday says have pinot noir or an oaked chardonnay.  I say, try Castello Borghese’s or McCall’s pinot noir, or Castello’s oaked chardonnay.

IMG_5870

  1. Pasta with a Bolognese sauce

Chianti would be perfect, of course, and it is made with the sangiovese grape, which is found on Long Island in a few places.  Try the sangiovese from Pugliese, or the Meritage from Laurel Lake, a blend that includes sangiovese.

IMG_3804

The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Lobster

They say a steel fermented chardonnay or a rosé.  Of course, as soon as I hear rosé, I think of Croteaux, which has lovely dry Provençal-style rosés.  For a steel chard, my favorite is Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

IMG_5657
  1. Chicken Tikka Masala

Aside from my own kitchen, I don’t know anywhere on the North Fork to get Indian food.  When I make Indian food (as I did last night, making curried cauliflower and cucumber raita), I like to pair it with a slightly sweet white, which is also what Newsday suggests.  They say use a gewürztraminer, and you have three good options on the North Fork:  Osprey’s Dominion, Coffee Pot Cellars, or, my preference, One Woman.  We drank Meditazione from Channing Daughters, a delicious orange wine made from a blend that includes gewürztraminer.

img_6065

  1. Roasted White Fish

There are lots of good options for white fish fillets at Braun’s, and there’s almost always cod.  Newsday suggests a sauvignon blanc.  Almost every winery has a drinkable sauvignon blanc, but I prefer Channing Daughters to most of the others.  It is nicely dry, but has enough fruit to give it taste.  Other good ones: Diliberto’s, Duck Walk, Clovis Point, and Coffee Pot Cellars.

IMG_5871

  1. Rib-Eye Steak

Two sources of good beef are Wayside Market and 8 Hands (though 8 Hands doesn’t always have beef—check their web page or call before you go).  As to wines, Newsday recommends either a cabernet sauvignon or a sparkling wine (and many people believe sparkling wines go with everything).  Big reds are in short supply on the North Fork, but Laurel Lake has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that’s pretty good.  Sparkling Pointe, of course, only makes sparkling wines.  Their Brut Magnum is lovely, but if you don’t care to buy a huge bottle you could try Roanoke Vineyard’s sparkling wine.

IMG_5788

The sparkler and the chard

  1. Oysters

In general, I like sauvignon blancs with oysters.  I find the lemony taste of the wine complements the bivalves very nicely.  They suggest a Muscadet or a sparkling wine.  You might try the Sherwood House blanc de blancs, or one of the above suggestions.

IMG_5152

  1. Cauliflower Steak

As Newsday notes in its article, it is often hard to pair wine and vegetables.  They suggest a grüner veltliner with this dish, and I agree.  One Woman makes a grüner that is one of my favorite North Fork whites.

As with all suggested wine and food pairings, personal taste is paramount.  If you just don’t like red wines or white wines (but why?), just go with what you like.  A light red can go with fish or chicken, and a heavy white, like an oaked chardonnay, can go with meats.  However, I can’t picture having any white with steak.  Instead, have a beer! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sherwood House: One Stop, Two Labels October 25, 2018

Sherwood House: One Stop, Two Labels               October 25, 2018

IMG_5778

The tasting room used to be a farm house, and it still has a homey feel.

https://www.sherwoodhousevineyards.com/

https://www.hounds-tree.com/

What happens when a vineyard is bought by new owners, who want to make their own style of wine, but the previous owners still use the same grapes for their wines?  You get Sherwood House and Hound’s Tree wines, made from the same grapes but in different styles.  Sherwood’s winemaker, Gilles Martin, likes the French style, while Hound’s Tree’s owners, who are from Oregon, use a West Coast style.  Confusingly, the vineyard is located on the North Fork on Oregon Road.

The last time we were here, the server set us up with parallel tastings, but this time, in the absence of her suggestions, we did a tasting of the Sherwood Classic wines, and then the Hound’s Tree ones.  There are actually four tasting options, but the two we did had no overlap.  In addition to the set tastings, they will also craft an all white or all red tasting on request.

Since the room is so pleasant, and we realized we’d be there a while, we decided to get a small cheese tray, put together by Lombardi’s Market.  $15.  Did we want crackers with that?  As opposed to what, eating the cheese by hand?  That will be an additional $3 for a small sleeve of Carr’s Water Crackers.  That seems a bit chintzy to us, especially since the cheese tray is rather meager.

IMG_5789

The cheese tray is adequate for two, if neither of them is very hungry.

We settled at a table, in sight of the fire in the fireplace, and brought our tastings and our cheese to the table ourselves.  Two other couples came in and took glasses of wine to sit on the couches by the fireplace.  Through an open doorway we could see into the William Riis gallery, where art, sculpture, and antiques are for sale.  Not a bad way to while away an afternoon.

IMG_5780

The first five wines are the Sherwood Classics Flight, $30 for a fairly generous pour.

IMG_5788

The sparkler and the chard

  1. 2016 Blanc de Blancs    $45

This is only the second time they have released a sparkling wine, so it is new to us.  Made from chardonnay grapes, it has a slightly vegetal aroma and is a pleasant dry sparkler.  It has a slightly yeasty taste, and is light.  You could definitely have this with a meal or some charcuterie.

  1. 2016 Chardonnay $3

Our server describes this as “lightly oaked,” and I agree that it is not overly oaky or buttery or butterscotchy.  On the other hand, it is fairly nondescript, I say.  Undistinguished, adds my tasting buddy.  Bittersweet, with just a trace of butterscotch, even with the cheese it is just okay.

  1. 2010 Merlot $38

Better than the average North Fork merlot is our assessment of this dry and elegant red.  It has aromas and tastes of cherry, as expected, but also some interesting layers of flavor.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $40

Although this has a nice aroma of brambles and blackberries, there’s not much taste.  It’s a soft red, with no tannins, and some minerality.  Not a sipping wine, it would be okay with a burger.

  1. 2010 Sherwood Manor $45

The tasting ends with their Bordeaux blend, of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot.  The menu describes it as “preciously aged”—whatever that means—in French oak.  I smell plums and other red fruit, but it is too cold to taste much, so I warm it in my palm.  Ah, now I can taste it.  This is quite good, a wine for steak, dry, with various fruit flavors.  It’s also nice with the Marcona almonds on the cheese plate.

 

Each taste comes in its own glass, by the way.  Now we move on to the Hound’s Tree Flight, $25 for five tastes.  We snack on our crackers and cheese a bit to clear our palates.

IMG_5794IMG_5795IMG_5796

  1. 2016 Rosé         $22

The aroma is slightly funky, and smells like fermented berries.  Yum.  This has more taste than the average rosé, though it is served too cold, of course.  It is a blend of 70% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, and 15% cabernet sauvignon.  We taste fruit and minerality, but it’s not overly fruity.  This would be a good summer sipper.

IMG_5803

When wine is too cold, try warming it with your palms.

  1. 2016 Chardonnay $26

What is acacia aged?  The server has told us that this is aged in steel and acacia, but she can’t answer what that means.  We sniff and get minerals and just a touch of citrus.  My husband sips and says, “Watery.”  It is very light.  I say it is “not unpleasant,” which is not exactly high praise.

IMG_5805

Pretty labels.

  1. 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

By the way, we find the labels for the Hound’s Tree wines quite attractive.  Although this has almost no aroma, it has, says my husband, “a distinctive taste which lingers in your mouth.”  It’s dry, almost tart, with not much fruit at all and some tannins.  Perhaps it needs to age longer.

  1. 2015 Merlot $29

Unlike the Sherwood merlot, which had lots of cherry aroma, this has almost no aroma.  It is quite dry, with some tannins but no depth, and is drinkable but not at all complex.  Innocuous, is a word we agree on.

IMG_5806

  1. 2015 Cornus Reserve $45

Why “Cornus”?  She doesn’t know, and the web site doesn’t even list this wine.  In any event, it is their Bordeaux blend, of 62% cabernet sauvignon, 19% merlot, 12% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot, and 3% malbec.  Of all the wines we tried today, this is our favorite.  It has red plum aromas, and a somewhat complex taste with red fruits and tobacco.  The tannins make me think it could improve with age.  It would pair well with lamb or mutton chops.

Reasons to visit:  pleasant, cozy tasting room with a fireplace and comfy couches; the chance to compare two different styles of winemaking using the same grapes (with very different results); the Sherwood Merlot and Manor; the Hound’s Tree Rosé and Cornus Reserve; you can shop the interesting items in the next-door gallery.  If I came there to sit by the fire and sip a glass of wine while listening the

 

 

music, I would get a glass of the Cornus.

IMG_5807

Peconic Bay: Not your Typical Tasting April 29, 2017

IMG_3618

This sign lured us in.

The last time we went to Peconic Bay for a tasting was in 2008.  Then it closed.  Or did it? They continued to make wines, marketing them through the store they opened in Tanger Mall, Empire State Cellars.  We loved that store, which was amply stocked with wines from many of the Long Island wineries, as well as beers and liquors and other items from all over New York State.  Unfortunately, they closed.  Or did they?

IMG_3616

The door was open, so we walked in.

Recently we noticed that Peconic Bay had hung out a sign saying “Open,” and touting a new sparkling wine, so we decided to check it out.  We walked into an empty tasting room on a sunny day when every winery we drove past seemed to have a large complement of limos and cars.  We were enthusiastically greeted by a woman who seems to be the manager of the place as well as its only employee.  Over the course of our tasting, we learned various bits of information about Peconic Bay, but not why it closed and opened—and may or may not close again.

IMG_3611

The ciders we could have tasted.

The tasting, which includes four wines, is free.  (!) Each taste is small, served in tiny plastic cups.  They also offer a tasting of ciders for $5, but we decided not to do that.   On the counter were also a dish of Backyard Brine bread and butter-style pickles and another of pretzel sticks with Herlocher sweet mustard for dipping.

IMG_3606 (2)

As we sipped, we learned that the tasting room had been re-opened by the owner with the mission of selling out his stock of wines.  Then they decided to recreate a mini-Empire State Cellar experience, and stocked a variety of New York State beers and other products, including Twin Stills moonshine, an apple-based gin, Greenhook Gunsmith whisky, various ciders, and more.  Now they may or may not have “switched gears,” in the words of our friend behind the counter, to continue to sell Peconic Bay wines and other local drinks—or not.  We’ll keep our eyes on them!

IMG_3614

We were sorry when they closed.

  1. 2012 Peconic Bay Riesling          $10

Riesling is a wine I never want to buy unless I’ve tasted it, since it can be sweet or dry or somewhere in between, and taste good or…not so good.  This is a very nice riesling, dry, with a bit of that cat pee smell, and a taste of grapefruit and unripe peach.  Not to be sipped on its own, but it would be fine with food, and the price is certainly alluring.

IMG_3599

  1. 2011 Blanc de Blancs $25

This sparkling wine, made using the sparkling wine bottle-sealing facility at Lenz, is made from their own chardonnay grapes.  It has a bit of a yeasty caramel aroma and is pleasant, dry, and not complex.  They make it using the méthode champenoise.

IMG_3603

  1. Atwater Estate Bubble Pinot Noir $16

From an upstate Seneca Lake winery, this is a pink sparkling wine made from 85% pinot noir and 15% Cayuga grapes.  It has a bit of the strawberry taste you’d expect from a rosé, and is less sweet than I had feared.  It’s light, and would be a fine casual wine if you wanted to take a sparkler on a picnic.

IMG_3609

  1. Brotherhood New York Red       $10

Another upstate wine, this one from the Hudson Valley area, this is a light, steel-fermented red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and baco noir (which I had to ask her to spell for me).  She described this as a “Beaujolais style picnic wine,” and I agree.  It would be perfect with a croque monsieur, for example, and I think I would like it chilled.  You can taste the cherry from the merlot, and also a somewhat piney taste.

IMG_3604

  1. 2014 Saperavi $30

Yes, I said four wines, but given our interest and seriousness, she felt we should try one additional wine.  A silver medal winner from Standing Stone winery, this is a light, pleasant red, dry, with some tastes of pomegranate and other fruits.  It’s a dark red, so I expected it to be richer than it was, but maybe it needs more aging.  I researched the grape a bit, and learned it is a cold-weather tolerant grape, originally from Georgia—the country, not the state.

IMG_3607

Reasons to visit:  a quiet place (unless others figure out that they’re open again); a free tasting; some very inexpensive wines (we bought both the riesling and the Brotherhood New York Red for everyday drinking, which she gave us in a nice canvas Empire State bag); a large choice of a variety of artisanal beers and other New York State drinks.  Note:  don’t depend on finding them open!  It they’re closed, I recommend you go across the street to Coffee Pot Cellars.

IMG_3601

We had the room to ourselves.

IMG_3600

Some of the many brands available there.

IMG_3613

Sherwood House: Cozy by the Fire November 22, 2015

http://www.sherwoodhousevineyards.com/About_Us.htm

A view of the fireplace plus musicians

A view of the fireplace plus musicians

It feels as though you are walking into someone’s living room, albeit one with a bar along one side and a couple of folk-ish singers in one corner.  The fire in the stone fireplace surrounded by comfy couches is what you notice when you first enter in the winter.  The welcome from the servers is equally warm, and they do a good job of keeping track of each customer and giving information about the wines.

Sherwood House offers two menus:  the Premium Flight of four wines for $12 and the Top Reds Flight of 4 reds for $15.  They also offer cheese and/or salumi plates for $15 or $20, prepared by Lombardi’s Market in Mattituck.  We decide to share the Premium Flight, thinking we may stop back at some point to try the other one.   The pour was generous enough that we decided we had made the right decision.

Array of bottles

Array of bottles

  1. White Merlot   $19

We compared this to Anthony Nappa’s Anomaly and to various rosés we have tried, and found some similarities and some differences.  Like a rosé it has a faint strawberry aroma, though we felt the smell was a bit funkier than most, and like Anomaly it was neither a red nor a white nor a rosé, but its own thing.  The color is a very light pink, the taste is lemony and refreshingly dry (1-2% residual sugar, notes our server), and the aroma has a slight mushroomy tinge to it.  Good for summertime barbequed chicken!

You can see the pink tinge of the White Merlot.

You can see the pink tinge of the White Merlot.

  1. 2013 Oregon Road Chardonnay $19

This is an unoaked chard, a bit on the sweet side for an unoaked chard, with a touch of overripe pineapple plus lemon flavors.  “Not much to say,” opines my tasting buddy, as we swirl the wine to open up the flavors.

Generous pour.

Generous pour.

  1. 2012 Chardonnay $30

“This wine spends 12 months in second year oak barrels,” our server tells us.  I now know what this implies!  As I’ve learned, the extent to which being aged in oak affects a wine depends on whether the wine was aged in new oak barrels (in which case the oak affects it more heavily) as well as how long it was aged.  As expected, we can taste and smell some butterscotch, but not too much, and some toasty, pineappley flavors. My husband claims it reminds him of Reese’s peanut butter cups.  It’s not sweet and has some interesting layers of flavor (once we warm up our too-cold taste).  It would be great with lobster.

IMG_2285 (1)

  1. 2012 Oregon Road Merlot $19

A combination of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet sauvignon, the wine spends 12 months in oak.  Noting our seriousness, our server provides us with a clean glass for the red, something I always appreciate.  The aroma reminds me of perfumed soap, but fortunately it doesn’t taste like that!  We get blackberry, some cherry, some woody flavors, and no tannins.  Soft, we decide, and just okay.

  1. 2011 Cabernet Franc $45

Wait, you cry, didn’t she say you get four tastes?  Well, yes, but once again the fact that we take notes and discuss each wine seriously gets us an extra taste.  And happily, this is the best of the bunch.  Our enthusiastic server notes that the reds are “where we shine,” and I would agree as to this one.  The aroma includes some scents of forest floor and dried herbs, the taste is very cherry berry, with some tannins and some interest to it. Not sure it is worth the price, but it is a lovely wine.

IMG_2287

Reasons to visit:  Good place to sit in winter with a glass of wine (I’d choose a red) and listen to music while contemplating a fire in the fireplace; the 2012 chardonnay, the 2011 cabernet franc.  They also offer a blanc de blancs.

IMG_2282

if you get bored with your tasting you can check out the funky objets at Material Objects next door.

if you get bored with your tasting you can check out the funky objets at Material Objects next door.

 

Sparkling Point: Bubblicious? August 15, 2015

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/#

The entrance to Sparkling Pointe

The entrance to Sparkling Pointe

Every time we visit Sparkling Pointe we go home convinced that we should drink more champagne—or, to be precise, more sparkling wines, since only wines from the Champagne region of France can actually be called champagne.  Sparkling Pointe only makes sparkling wines, a focus that disappointed a couple who wandered in as we were enjoying our tasting and left, despite the best efforts of our very knowledgeable and passionate server to persuade them to stay.  “Here,” she offered, “try a little sample on me of two very different sparkling wines,” pouring them tastes of the Brut and the Carnaval.  They should have stayed.

A view of the chandeliers

A view of the chandeliers

The tasting room is a bright, airy space, decorated with large crystal chandeliers and paintings of Brazilian scenes (because the owners like the culture of Brazil, we’ve been told).  Outside there are more seats on a shaded patio overlooking the vineyard.  We could have opted for table service inside or outside, but, since there is room at the bar, we decide to stay there, which gives us a chance to observe the somewhat frenetic actions of the serving staff, as they quickly move from task to task.  “Like a beehive!” observes my husband.  Our attentive server not only (noticing our interest) gives us more information about each wine than I can cover in my notes, she also gives us an extra taste, about which more later.

A view of the mural, plus a very active server

A view of the mural, plus a very active server

The menu offers four tastes for $17, each one in a fresh champagne flute.  There is also an extensive menu of snacks—almost all of them of New York State origin, including cheeses and charcuterie, chips and olives, and Tate’s cookies—which is good, since they don’t allow outside food.  We also noted quite a few people ordering whole bottles for a table, plus snacks.  The shop off to one side is full of gift items, also featuring many New York State grown or made products, as well as the sparkling t-shirts many of the servers wear.

spark t

  1. NV Brut               $29

This is their least expensive and most popular wine, a non-vintage blend, meaning they strive for consistency year to year.  This one is made from 38% chardonnay, 38% pinot noir, and 24% reserve wine—which means they use some of the wine they reserve from each vintage in order to make up the blend.  It ages for two years on the lees.  The aroma is toasty and yeasty, the wine itself very pleasant, with tiny bubbles that burst on the tongue.  The chard probably accounts for the lemony taste, more like a touch of lemon peel than fruit.  The wine is nicely dry, but could have more fruit flavors.  I think it would be better as an accompaniment for food than by itself.  Pretty label.

spark brut

  1. 2010 Blanc de Blancs $42

We clear our palate with our own individual bowl of round crackers, a nice idea—almost ruined by a man who comes to the bar to order a bottle for his table and helps himself to a handful.  An observant server quickly dumps the bowl and gives us a fresh one.  Nice!  This one is a 100% chardonnay, aged 3 ½ years on the lees, with a slightly funky green apple smell.  This has tastes of lime and mineral and fruit, and, though not complex, is quite good.  We recently had the Lieb Blanc de Blanc, made from pinot blanc grapes, which tasted very different.  We prefer this one.

spark blanc

  1. 2006 Brut Seduction $72

Now we’re getting serious.  They only make the Brut Seduction in a good year for pinot noir, which is not every year on Long Island, as this is 54% pinot noir and 46% chardonnay blend.  This one has been aged eight years, and it shows.  Wow.  The aroma is yeasty and toasty again, but we also smell some bitter almond.  Mineral, fruit, layers of flavor—we’ve had excellent vintage champagnes (yes, from France) and this would give some of them a run for their money. Our server thinks it needs another six months in the bottle, which would make it perfect for New Year’s Eve. The tasting menu says it has a “super organoleptic profile”—which is a fancy way of saying it appeals to all the senses.  Yes indeed.

The servers are smart and attentive and know a lot about the wines.

The servers are smart and attentive and know a lot about the wines.

Our favorite--not counting the '05!

Our favorite–not counting the ’05!

  1. 2005 Brut Seduction

Not for sale, not on the menu, but we get a taste.  The server has noted our seriousness, and my note taking, and we have had a great discussion of sparkling wines.  She is so enthusiastic about them that she actually traveled to Champagne, France.  The ’05 earned scores in the 90s, and we can see why.  We smell a more complex aroma, with fruit and spice, perhaps fennel, and the taste…I wrote OMG.  This could definitely stand up to a French vintage champagne.

Our individual dish of crackers, which we almost lost!

Our individual dish of crackers, which we almost lost!

  1. NV Carnaval Cuvée Rouge $34

From the sublime to…not our taste.  This is described as a demi-sec red sparkling wine, made from 65% merlot, 23% pinot noir, and 12% chardonnay, having spent five days on the merlot skins, which accounts for the pretty garnet color.  The aroma is black raspberry, the taste is candy, or raspberry syrup mixed with seltzer.  Unlike the others, which are made in the méthode Champenoise, this is made in the méthode traditionelle.  If you like sweet, you can try this.  I would skip it!

A carnival outfit from the gift shop to get you in the mood for our last taste.

A carnival outfit from the gift shop to get you in the mood for our last taste.

spark red

Reasons to visit:  you like bubbles; the only winery that only makes sparkling wines; an airy pleasant setting with table or bar service; lots of interesting snacks; smart, attentive servers; nice little gift shop; the ’06 Brut Seduction.

A view of the room during a brief quiet moment.

A view of the room during a brief quiet moment.

Looking towards the outside patio

Looking towards the outside patio

Some of the gift items

Some of the gift items

In a few years, these grapes will sparkle.

In a few years, these grapes will sparkle.

Sparkling Pointe August 25, 2013

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

Sparkling

It seemed appropriate on a sparkling August day, after several hours watching the sun sparkling on the water, to check out Sparkling Pointe winery, where they specialize in sparkling wine.  And a good choice it was.  Using the Méthode Champenoise to make authentic champagne-style wines (which can’t actually be called champagne because only wines from the Champagne region of France can legally bear that title), they have taken Long Island grapes into the realm of luxury wines.

The bright and airy tasting room leads out to a spacious patio area, which they need, since they often get van and busloads of visitors, as we have noted as we have driven by.  Just as Croteaux evokes France and Diliberto evokes Italy, Sparkling Pointe evokes Brazil, featuring Bossa Nova nights and paintings of Rio in its tasting room.  According to a server on a previous visit, the owners happen to “love the culture” of Brazil.  The winery also tries to promote an air of elegance, with crystal chandeliers on the ceiling and caviar on the fairly extensive snack menu. Once, when we came on Halloween, all the servers were in fancy dress, either tuxedos or ball gowns.  The snack menu, which needs to be somewhat extensive since they have a note on the door politely informing guests that they no longer allow outside food, also includes charcuterie, various cheeses, olives, and more,  as well as iced tea, Pellegrino, and something called Vita Coco Coconut Water from Brazil.  We have goodies waiting at home, so we decide to just do two tastings, one for our son and another we will share, at $17 for four tastes in pretty champagne flutes.   Although they have more than four wines, they decide on the menu of tastings each day. Oh, and you can add a chocolate pairing for an additional $10.

Our server knows his stuff, and seems quite enthusiastic, but he is also taking care of a couple of larger parties out on the patio and seems somewhat distracted, rushing back and forth.  Fortunately, we are not in a hurry.

  1.   2009 Brut                                           $29

This is their “signature” wine, a blend of 59% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, and 5% reserve wine.  I want to ask the server what “reserve wine” means, though I assume it is wine left over from other years, but he has disappeared and I forget when he returns.  We like the Brut better than on a past visit.  It has a somewhat doughy smell, with some notes of not-ripe melon, or maybe pear.  It is a light, dry champagne, with some residual sugar and a hint of grapefruit.  While I wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, as in a toast, it would be a lovely aperitif wine with nuts or soft cheese.

2.  2008 Blanc de Blancs                      $42 (Magnum $93)

On the other hand, I would happily drink a toast with this wine.  After a year on the lees, this 100% Chardonnay wine has a somewhat funky mineral aroma but is creamy to taste, and reminds me of a Granny Smith apple pie.  Nicely dry, but with good fruit, I could also see this paired with some Crescent Farms duck breast. and my son agrees.  It is better than most $20 champagnes one buys.

3.  2003 Brut Seduction                       $60

Another blend, this one is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, and spent eight years on the lees, according to our server.  One nicety—each taste is poured into a fresh glass. Here we smell dirt and mushrooms, but taste raspberry and lemon curd.  One could definitely sip this on its own and be very happy.  The tasting notes refer to its “organoleptic profile,” which occasions some hilarity in our little party.  Look it up.

4.  NV Cuvée Carnaval                         $27

Our server has poured our final taste before we finished the one before, and left, noting that he won’t be back, a fistful of glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, so I miss whatever he said about this wine, as I was concentrating on the previous one and comparing notes with my son.  This wine combines Merlot and Chardonnay, plus 4% Gewürztraminer, which probably accounts for some of its sweetness.  We smell strawberry jam and taste mango and cherry.  It wouldn’t be bad with a dessert like a flourless chocolate cake, and, for a sweet wine, has some nice minerality, so I like it better than I thought I would.  If you didn’t have Chateau d’Yquem, my husband notes, you could substitute this.  Well, maybe…

After we finish our last wine, we stand at the bar waiting to pay for our tastings, our server, as promised, having disappeared.  A gentleman comes over and asks us if we are waiting to buy a bottle.  No, we say, just waiting to pay for our tastings.  He thanks us for our patience, and tells us the tastings are free!  Nice gesture, which somewhat makes up for our harried server’s divided attentions.

Reasons to visit:  you like champagne—um, I mean, sparkling wine; you want to see what a North Fork winery can do with sparkling wines; you want caviar with your champ…sparkling wine; the Blanc de Blancs (my favorite); Bossa Nova nights.