Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s) December 22, 2018

Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s)         December 22, 2018

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Don’t let the blue sky deceive you…it was cold!

https://ospreysdominion.com/

You really need to have two flights to begin to sample the breadth of Osprey’s Dominion’s list of wines, so…we did.  I valiantly offered to drink more of each taste than my husband, the designated driver.  A flight of five tastes is $12, so we did one with five whites and another of five reds, but we could go back and do another two tastings of all different wines, if you include the “Reserve Collection.”

On this pre-Christmas Saturday of frantic last-minute shopping (we did a few errands in Riverhead and were happy we did them early, as we saw the traffic quickly increasing), the expansive tasting room at Osprey’s was an oasis of calm.  We had useful attention from our server, who quickly noted our likes and helped us tailor our tasting accordingly, avoiding their sweeter wines.

What’s nice about Osprey is it has something for everyone, from the lower priced Richmond Creek wines to the expensive Reserves, from the sweet Regina Maris Chardonnay to the minerally Sauvignon Blanc.  They also carry a nice selection of wine-related gifts.  The one area I would fault them on is in the snack category.  After our morning of erranding I was ready for a snack, but the “cheese tray” on offer for $10 was a cellophane-wrapped very small package of a few slices of Boar’s Head salami and cheese, plus a little baggie of crackers.  No thanks.

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That Boar’s Head “cheese tray” was quite inadequate.

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Nice sized pour

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   $19

Both the aroma and the taste of this sauvignon blanc are complex and interesting, and somewhat different than the usual North Fork s.b.  We sniff and get something funky, something vegetal—maybe cabbage?  The taste has lots of minerality and salt, plus pink grapefruit. Good. The tasting menu says “refreshing acidity.”  I would agree.  My husband says it is “not shy.”   Some day it might be fun to line up a bunch of different sauvignon blancs and see how they differ.

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  1. 2014 Fumé Blanc $19

Well, here’s one way they can differ.  This wine uses the same grape, but aged in 15% new French oak, on the lies for a while, for a somewhat smoky taste.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but also smells like ripe melon.  It has a richer mouth feel than the first wine and a nice long finish.  Lots of good acidity.  We like this one, too.

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  1. 2017 Reserve Pinot Gris $24

Our server steers us to this one, instead of our original plan of just going in order on the list of whites, since we had said we did not care for sweet wines.  The aroma of this one lets me trot out my new vocabulary word:  petrichor.  That’s the “scent of rain on dry ground,” which is also the smell you get when you walk past apartment buildings in New York in the summer after the doorman has been hosing down the sidewalk, or the smell of this wine.  It tastes like tangerines and pineapple, plus again some minerality, and is another winner.

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  1. 2014 Reserve Chardonnay $22

Although our server says this is the least sweet and least oaky of the oaked chardonnays, it’s not my favorite of the wines so far.  100% barrel fermented, the aroma is of something floral plus pencil shavings.  My tasting buddy identifies a “theme” in the wines, which we decide is a combination of minerality and acidity.  Those qualities help balance the sweetness of this chard.  I could see having it with Chinese food.

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  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer $19

As is typical of this grape, we get lots of floral smells, like honeysuckle, plus spice.  “It smells like a garden,” says my husband.  Though we prefer the gewürztraminer at One Woman, this is nice, with some gingery notes as well as fruit.  A touch sweet.

 

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $14

Now we get a fresh glass for the reds.  This is a left bank Bordeaux blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  As I sniff, I’m reminded of a gift I once got of a box of chocolate covered cherries.  Add to that a touch of tobacco and you have the aroma of this mellow, smooth, and very drinkable red.  It tastes remarkably like those chocolate covered cherries, too.  Really good for the money, and we’ve often bought it at Vintage, our local liquor store.

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  1. 2013 Meritage “Flight” $30

I love this kind of juxtaposition.  Here’s another Bordeaux-style blend, this time of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot.  At twice the price of the Richmond Creek blend, is it worth it?  Well, maybe.  It is definitely better in that it is more complex, with aromas and flavors of prunes, fruit, raspberries, and tobacco, with tannins that indicate you could probably cellar it for a few years. I wouldn’t buy it for every night drinking, but maybe for a special occasion.  The word “flight,” by the way, refers to the owner, who is a pilot.

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  1. 2014 Carménère $30

According to the tasting notes, Osprey is the first winery on Long Island to plant the Carménère grape, another grape used in Bordeaux wines.  We like this wine, too.  We smell pencil shavings again, like the smell you get from a pencil sharpener, and taste purple plums and spice, perhaps nutmeg.  It has “lots of taste,” we agree.  I think this is another wine that could age.

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  1. 2014 Malbec $30

In Cahors, we are told by the tasting notes, malbec is blended with merlot and tannat grapes, as is the case here as well.  The notes also recommend serving this with a grilled steak, and I can see that.  The aroma reminds me of picking blueberries and blackberries at Patty’s Berries and Bunches in August, an activity I heartily recommend for small children.  I had fun doing that, too.  This wine is also enjoyable, juicy and yummy.

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  1. 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot $30

The server and I agree that we like petit verdot.  This one is very good, with aromas of nutmeg and other spices, and a long finish.  It tastes like blackberry jam with seeds, and is very tannic. If I were adding wine to my cellar for aging, I would get this one.

Reasons to visit:  something for everyone, with a wide variety of wines at various price points and tastes; large attractive tasting room, where they often have music and other events; most of the wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc, the Reserve Pinot Gris, the Richmond Creek Red Blend, the Meritage “Flight,” the Carménère, the Malbec, and the Reserve Petit Verdot.  However, don’t rely on them for snacks.

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Note the windmill, an increasingly frequent sight on the North Fork.

 

Bedell Cellars: High Art October 17, 2015

http://www.bedellcellars.com/

The bottles feature works of art by contemporary artists.

The bottles feature works of art by contemporary artists.

“Our owner is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art,” explained our well-informed server when we commented on the art on the wine bottle labels.  “He commissioned Chuck Close to do that one,” she added, as we admired the bunch of grapes on one label.  Wow.  And the prices of the wines also elicited a wow, including the Musée 2010, which is $125 a bottle.  You can learn more about the artists and the labels on Bedell’s web page, so I’m just going to discuss what’s in the bottles.

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And what’s in the bottles is quite good—though I’m not sure it’s $125 good.  The tasting menu offers two options:  five Estate wines for $15, or five Premium wines for $20, both featuring three whites and two reds.  We decide to share a Premium tasting, which turns out to be a good idea, as the pour is generous.  We also decide to return later in the winter to try the other menu.

One view of the large porch tasting room.

One view of the large porch tasting room.

We are standing at the bar, our favorite place for tastings, as this gives us the chance to chat with the servers and observe the scene.  This part of the tasting room is not very large, but an enclosed porch off to one side is much bigger, and is where most of the people doing tastings have congregated on this brisk sunny fall day.   It looks to us as though they could use more help behind the bar as it gets quite busy, but the servers do a good job of keeping us in mind, and we’re impressed that they never stop smiling.

This is my favorite label

This is my favorite label

  1. Blanc de Blanc 2010 $60

We start off with a 100% chardonnay sparkling wine, fermented in the bottle using the Méthode Champenoise.  Whoa, this is REALLY dry, also crisp and quite good, with a nice minerality and lots of flavor.  The aromas include yeast, mushrooms, and celery.  As it sits in the glass we get some hints of sweetness.  Definitely lighter than a California sparkling chardonnay, it would pair well with goat cheese or a mushroom terrine.  Mushrooms are on our mind lately, since we hope soon to check out the local mushroom growers whose storefront always seems to be closed.

  1. 2014 Viognier $40

Mmm, this smells nice, maybe some sticky peach, and my husband says French toast.  Maybe.  Light, dry, with what the tasting notes call “flinty minerality,” and also some peach tastes, this is a delicate wine that would go well with local flounder lightly sautéed in butter.

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  1. 2013 Gallery $75

This is a blend of 70% chardonnay, 24% viognier, and 6% sauvignon blanc, and is described by our server as a “white wine for red wine lovers.”  I want to ask her why, but she’s called away at that moment.  Perhaps it is because of the complexity of the flavors or the richness of the taste.  The wine is first fermented in steel, then spends ten months in new French oak, so it does have some buttery vanilla notes, but not too much.  We taste unripe peach, minerals, “hay” (according to my husband), and a touch of something chemical.  This starts off seeming quite tart, then gets sweeter, with a slight tingle on the tongue, and I could see drinking it as an aperitif.  It would also be fun to give this to people at a tasting and see what they make of it.

Merlot art

Merlot art

  1. 2013 Merlot $35

We get a new glass for each red.  The merlot spends ten months in French oak, so not very oaky.  We smell some chocolate, maybe Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, then taste.  Briermere blueberry crunch pie, my tasting pal insists.   Hmmm.  It is very soft, not at all tannic, though dry, and does not have lots of the cherry flavor you usually get in a Long Island merlot.  It’s okay, but I see no reason to buy it over many other merlots.

I guess you could soak off the label and say you own a Chuck Close print.

I guess you could soak off the label and say you own a Chuck Close print.

  1. Musée 2010 $125

A Right Bank Bordeaux blend, this is 65% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 3% petit verdot, and 2% syrah, and features the Chuck Close label.  Though the price somewhat takes our breath away, this is a pleasure to drink.  It is aged 14 months in French oak, and has lots of layers of fruit flavors, with very soft tannins.  Nice mouth feel, and the aroma reminds us of raisins or Craisins.  We have had the opportunity to taste very high end French Bordeaux, and this does not quite equal those (at least in memory—don’t know what we’d think in a head to head tasting), but it is quite good.

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Reasons to visit:  the chance to admire some very artistic labels; the Blanc de Blanc, the Gallery, the Musée.

Patient pooch on the porch

Patient pooch on the porch

Another view of the porch

Another view of the porch

Coffee Pot Cellars: Wine Country’s Cutest Couple 8/23/14

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

http://blossommeadow.com/

No, they don't serve coffee here!

No, they don’t serve coffee here!

“Perhaps a sign that says ‘Live Bees!’ is not the best way to get people into a winery,” I suggest to winemaker Adam Suprenant, owner of Coffee Pot Cellars.  He chuckles, and notes that when people ask if he has live music he says no, but they have live…bees.  Never fear, however, the bees are behind glass, and you can observe their activity while you sip Mr. Suprenant’s lovely wines and visit with him and his charmingly chatty wife, Laura Klahre, the beekeeping owner of Blossom Meadow.

A year ago when we stopped into the tasting room it had just recently opened, and we were the only ones there.  This time there were several other couples, including some who were clearly regulars, and much of the discussion centered around the award Mr. Suprenant was to receive that night from Governor Andrew Cuomo for producing the best oaked chardonnay in New York State, his 2013 vintage (not available for tasting).  “And I didn’t even want to make a chardonnay!” he confessed to us, but more about that later.

The tasting room is a small but pleasant space that had previously housed an antique store and after that a real estate agency.  Now the simple yellow-painted space has a tasting bar and shelves filled with Blossom Meadow goods—honey, beeswax candles and crayons in various shapes, and bee-related beauty products.  Last year we bought cat-shaped candles as a gift for cat lovers we were about to visit.

Some of the gift items available

Some of the gift items available

Both Mr. Suprenant and Ms. Klahre are enthusiastic and passionate about their fields, and it is fun to chat with them both about the intricacies of bee-keeping and wine making.  Did you know a bee has to visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey?

More gifts!

More gifts!

The tasting menu offers all six of their wines for $10, four for $8, or individual tastes for $2.50.  We opted for two complete tastings.

  1. Sauvignon Blanc 2012             $17.99

We sniff, and detect aromas of citrus and mineral or wet rock.  The taste is tart, almost grassy, with lots of lemon.  Not a wine to sip by itself, it would go well with a seafood in cream sauce dish.

The labels feature the Coffee Pot light house.

The labels feature the Coffee Pot light house.

  1. Chardonnay 2012 $15.99

As we enjoy this very lightly oaked chardonnay, Mr. Suprenant tells us why he didn’t plan to make a chard.  “Like a cliché?” I ask (ever the English teacher), and he agrees.  But a grower from whom he buys his grapes asked him to buy some chardonnay grapes due to an oversupply, and so he gave in.  Using older oak barrels, he fermented tow clones of chardonnay for only five months, and then arrested the malolactic fermentation with sulfites.  “Butter cookies!” I say of the aroma, and then sip.  Pineapple and what Mr. Suprenant confesses he compares to Juicy Fruit gum compose the actually very good taste.  Sippable.

  1. Gewürztraminer 2012 $21.99

The grapes for this wine come from Osprey’s Dominion, where Mr. Suprenant is the winemaker (He’s been a winemaker on the North Fork for 17 years.).  Nice flowery honeysuckle aroma, not too sweet, with some tangerine flavor, this is also a sippable wine.

  1. Merlot 2009 $17.99

A nice touch—he rinses the glasses with a bit of the merlot before we taste it.  The gewürtz would overpower anything else in the glass, he notes, but I also think that sometimes when wineries rinse with water you get a taste of chlorine!  Like all his wines, this is made with grapes purchased from North Fork growers, and 2009 was a notoriously bad year, with an excess of rain.  However, this wine has turned out pretty good, with aromas of berry and no earthiness. Though I think I scent wet rags, my husband says pine forest.  Wine tasting is not an exact science!

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  1. Meritage 2008 $21.99

A Bordeaux blend, this version is 69% merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon, and 6% each petit verdot and cabernet franc, according to the tasting menu which, Ms. Klahre points out, she is proud they finally have.  Complex aromas of berry, flint and a bit of smoky forest precede tastes of blackberry and herbs.  Very nice, but the next is better.

  1. Meritage 2010 $25.99

2010 is known to be a good year, and this wine proves it.  59& merlot, 23% petit verdot, 14% cabernet franc, and 4% cabernet sauvignon, this Bordeaux blend really does taste like a Bordeaux.  The aroma is brambly, with a hint of earth that is not present in the taste.  We taste blueberry and some spice and like it so much we decide to buy two bottles for the cellar, marking them 2016.

Adam Suprenant

Adam Suprenant

Reasons to visit: you like bees and honey and beeswax products; you enjoy talking with people about their passions; the 2012 chardonnay (and maybe the 2013), the gewürztraminer, the 2010 Meritage; Adam and Laura.

 P.S.  The name refers to the lighthouse at Orient Point, which is said to resemble a coffee pot.  They do not, in fact, serve coffee at the winery!

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The building was originally a house, and Adam and Laura will make you feel right at home.

The building was originally a house, and Adam and Laura will make you feel right at home.