The Tasting Group (Premium Wine Group): Choice Choices August 4, 2014

http://liebcellars.com

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There are always changes out here in wine country.  New wineries open, some close, others merge, and menus change with each new harvest.  Lieb Cellars has made some alterations in their tasting room options.  Their Oregon Road facility (see my entry from last August for a description of that tasting room) still has the full panoply of Lieb wines, while their Sound Avenue room has been re-named The Tasting Group and now offers two menus:  Lieb’s Bridge Lane line (their less expensive offerings) or the “featured flight,” which features wines from a variety of labels which use the Premium Wine Group wine-making facilities behind the tasting room.  Either flight includes some very good choices.

We opted to each get our own flight, sharing tastes as always, and I took the Bridge Lane option, which includes 5 tastes for $12 from the Bridge Lane menu.  My husband took the featured flight, also 5 tastes, though with no options, for $14.  We were accompanied by family members, with the three year old distraction and her two month old sister opting to spend their time outside at one of the picnic tables on the lawn, admiring the grapes and just generally running around.  On Friday evenings Lieb has what they call “Firefly Fridays” out there, with music and glasses of wine on offer from 6-8 p.m.

One view of the tasting room

One view of the tasting room

The room itself is a bit small and somewhat spare, with a tasting bar and a few small tables.  Our server seemed quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and attempted to make a red wine convert out of another customer who kept insisting she only liked whites, though to no avail.

I’ll give you the Bridge Lane wines first, then the others.

1)  Bridge Lane White Blend            $20

20% chardonnay, 20%pinot blanc, 18% Riesling, 14% Viognier, 9% sauvignon blanc and 4% gewürztraminer combine to make this a pleasantly fruity yet light white, with nice citrus flavors.  Classic summer wine.

2)  Bridge Lane Sparkling                  $20

Very dry, somewhat mineral-y, and reminiscent of a Prosecco, this is a bit too seltzer-ish for me.

I liked the bubbly label.

I liked the bubbly label.

3)  Bridge Lane 2011 Chardonnay $14

Unoaked, our server notes, so a good choice for those who dislike the California style of heavily oaked chards.  This is light and lemony and very buyable.

4)  Bridge Lane Rosé 2013                 $18

Since we were just recently at Croteaux, of course I have to compare this to their wines, and it’s fine, but not as good.  A blend of cabernet franc, merlot, and gewürztraminer, this has typical strawberry aroma and is pleasantly dry, but could use more complexity.

5)  Bridge Lane Merlot 2011 $16

Though this is called merlot, it is also 24% cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, grapes which I think always improve a merlot.  For the price this is a really good option, with lots of berry flavors though not much aroma.  Very buyable, which we do.

Now for the Featured Flight.

1)  Brooklyn Oenology 2013 Pinot Gris        $20

Perhaps you were wondering where in Brooklyn grapes are grown?  The grapes for this wine come from Upstate New York and are processed here in Mattituck.  The wine is very, very dry, with lots of tart lemon flavors, so would be better with food than sipped on its own.

The SUHRU Riesling got some favorable comments.

The SUHRU Riesling got some favorable comments.

2)  SUHRU 2012 Dry Riesling $16

We’ve encountered SUHRU wines before, in The Tasting Room (now under different ownership as The Winemaker’s Studio) so we knew that they are made by Russell Hearn, Lieb’s winemaker, and his wife.  As the name promises, this is a dry Riesling.  It has a touch of that cat pee smell, but tastes fine, with good fruit—maybe gooseberry?  Our relatives really like it.

3)  Bouquet Rosé 2013 $16

“Not a lot of character,” offers our relative, and we agree, even though you’d think a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot would be more interesting.  There’s a touch of that earthiness some North Fork merlots have in this dry rosé.

4)  T’Jara 2010 Merlot $25

Where did the name T’Jara come from?  Our server tells us that this is Russell Hearn’s premium label, only made in good years, and, since he is from Australia, he decided to name it for an Australian tribe.  Aged in oak, this is a very good merlot, with plenty of berry tastes, dry but not too dry.

We liked Leo's label--and wine.

We liked Leo’s label–and wine.

5)  Leo Family Red Blend $36

We liked this the best of the wines sampled today.  A Bordeaux blend, this is a wine one could happily sip on its own or pair with pork chops.  It’s a bit on the sweet and soft side, without a lot of tannins, made by the Clovis Point winemaker.  It also has a really pretty lacy pattern on the label.

In addition to bottles, one can also buy some of the wines in a box!  A box of White Blend or Red Blend is the equivalent of 4 bottles, we are told, costs $46, and can last three weeks after being opened.  We opt instead for two bottles of the Bridge Lane merlot as an everyday table wine, our relative goes for the SUHRU Riesling, and one of our three tastings is complimentary.

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Reasons to Visit:  the chance to try a variety of wines from various winemakers, in addition to Lieb’s own Bridge Lane line; the Bridge Lane chardonnay and merlot; the Leo Family Red Blend (If I were here for a Firefly Friday, I would get a glass of this if it were on offer.); the SUHRU Riesling; a pleasant outdoor space for a glass and a picnic.  We often see groups enjoying the Firefly Fridays, but have not had the chance to do so ourselves yet.

 

Outdoor area

Outdoor area

Sherwood House September 29, 2012

Two of our tastes.

http://www.sherwoodhousevineyards.com/

It was a chilly rainy September Saturday, but the agritainment business was in full swing.  We passed up the Harbes Pumpkin Fest and stopped in at the Garden of Eve Garlic Fest (disappointing–no pickled garlic, only one booth making garlic braids, and lots of booths selling the same jewelry we saw at the Maritime Festival) before ending our outing at Sherwood House Winery, on the main road.  They have a little tasting shack in Mattituck, on Oregon Road, in the midst of their vineyard, but now they also have a very nice though small tasting room on Main Road in Jamesport.  They share their space with a shop called Material Objects, which sells various interestingly quirky household items.  Inside the room, there was a lovely fire in the fireplace, very welcome on this damp afternoon, and a group of people sitting around it in comfortable chairs, enjoying a tasting.  We stood at the bar, where we chatted a bit with wine club members doing a tasting and pick-up and other people.  A musician in the corner played quietly.

The tasting choices are the $8 Estate Flight of four wines, the $10 Premium Flight, also of four wines, or the $14 Owner’s Flight, of four of their highest quality wines.  We opted to share one Estate and one Premium.  A couple next to us got the Owner’s Flight, which began with a champagne-style sparkling wine, and the information from the well-informed and alert server that their winemaker is from the Champagne region of France.  Hmmm…maybe next time…

In the notes that follow, the even-numbered notes are from the Premium tasting, and the odd-numbered ones from the Estate one.

1.  2011 Unoaked Chardonnay         $18

Their only all-steel fermented chard, this pleasant wine has a lemony aroma and a nice, light, clean taste with a creamy finish.  It would make a lovely summer sipper, out on the deck, perhaps.  Good, and buyable.

2.  09 Chardonnay          $30

In contrast, this chard spent several months in oak, and has the usual, though faint, aroma of vanilla and wood.  We taste unripe pear, with some grapefruit, but an unpleasantly sweet finish that we don’t care for.

3.  2011 Bouquet Rose          $18

Screwtop!  The server informs us that this is not their own wine, but is made from their grapes by another wine maker, and is in the tasting because they have sold out of their own rose.  Made from cabernet franc grapes, this reminds us of cherry Kool-Aid!  Dumpable.  Light and sweet, if that’s what you like.

4.  05 Merlot          $34

This one is good with chocolate, says the server, and we agree (Though we would like to have the chance to try it WITH chocolate, none is on offer…).  The aroma is dark cherry, with some oak, and the taste is moderately dry, with a faint hint of the earthy terroir, but otherwise nicely fruity.  This merlot spends 18 months in oak, and is a lovely wine, and would be good with pork chops or turkey (starting to think about Thanksgiving).

5.  04 Oregon Road Merlot          $16

This is our favorite of the day, and we buy two bottles to have with barbequed ribs tonight.  Not a lot of aroma, but lovely fruit tastes with a slight hint of smoke.  13 months in oak, we are told.

6.  06 Merlot          $25

This one spends 18 months in oak, and is also very good.  The aroma is of black raspberry, and though it is dry there is plenty of plum and raspberry flavor, with a bit of oak and a slight touch of smoke.

7.  04 Merlot          $20

The 04 also spent 18 months in oak, and it is interesting that Sherwood House tends to hold onto their reds for several years before release.  Again, aromas of berry and oak, with some sweetness and a light taste.  Pleasant, but not exciting, and while we would not refuse to drink it we have no inclination to buy it.

8.  08 Merliance          $40

Merliance is a blend–what Lewis Carroll would call a “portmanteau word”–of Merlot and alliance, and is made from grapes grown by Castello Borghese, Clovis Point, McCall’s, Pellegrini, Sherwood House and Wolffer Estates, each of which contributes two barrels of wine to the mixture.  Though not worth the price, it is a nice wine, with a flowery aroma and nice legs.  The proceeds from the sale of this wine benefit various events and research sponsored by the alliance.

 

Reasons to visit:  Really nice reds, a cozy tasting room with a fireplace for cold days, the chance to browse an interesting household goods store.  Buyable:  Unoaked Chardonnay and Oregon Road Merlot and 05 Merlot.