Diliberto Winery: A Trip to Sunny Italy February 2, 2019
To celebrate Groundhog Day, we decided to take a trip to Italy—or at least as close as you can get on the North Fork. We love the décor at Diliberto’s winery, where the trompe l’oeil effect of the murals reminds us of sitting in a café in a small Italian town’s main square, one of our favorite activities in Italy. The sounds of Italian opera or pop music and the video on the screen over the piano showing scenes of the Italian countryside add to the immersive effect, a nice antidote to the recent sub-zero wind chills we’ve experienced.
In addition, the room was filled with the delicious scent of freshly made pizza, which every table but ours was enjoying. The kitchen is almost as big as the tasting room, and they have a pizza oven where they make thin crust pizzas as well as other Italian treats (no outside food allowed). The only problem with the pizzas was that I had trouble smelling the wines over its aroma.
The tasting room is quite small, but in the summer they have a sizeable outside area, as well as a plastic-enclosed porch for mild days. No big groups allowed, and, most emphatically, no children. In the winter, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays, but check their web page, since on some Sundays they feature “Sundays with Grandma,” which involves a four-course Italian meal and live music.
The menu has five wines, and oddly offers three tastes for $16, or $6 per taste. Our server, who was simply a server, with not much to say about the wines, first asked if we wanted to do two $16 tastings, until we pointed out that there were only five wines. “Oops,” she said, “I forgot we don’t have the rosé any more.” So we paid $28 for our five tastes, which were delivered to our table all at once, in nice little round-bottomed glasses. She did come back to our table periodically to check on how we were liking the wines and offer us some water.
Now that the prognosticating groundhogs haven’t seen their shadows, perhaps soon we’ll be enjoying some warm, Italian-like weather.
- 2017 Chardonnay $32
This is a lightly oaked chardonnay, which spends five months in oak barrels, so it is not too butterscotchy. The taste reminds me of thyme honey, which is herbier than clover honey, plus a touch of lemon. Not bad, but not a style of chard I particularly like. My husband says he could see it as a summer sipper on the deck.
- 2017 Sauvignon Blanc $30
We like the pretty bright yellow color of this wine, which is steel fermented. It’s a pretty typical North Fork sauvignon blanc, with crisp green apple and lemongrass flavors, a good oyster wine. By the way, you may notice that the prices are a bit high here. My guess is that, as such a small winery, they lack the advantage of larger scale places, which can distribute the cost of winemaking over more bottles.
- 2014 Merlot $32
In general, I think Diliberto does better with his reds. This merlot is rather light, with lots of that typical cherry flavor and some tannins. It is served a bit too cold. According to the menu, it is aged just one year, in a mix of new and used French oak, which might account for why it seems so light. It seems not quite balanced to me, though it would be a fine wine to have with pizza, especially one made without tomato sauce.
- 2016 Cantina $30
A cantina is usually a bar, or an informal kind of restaurant, and this wine would go fine in such a place. A blend of 50/50 merlot and cabernet franc, it combines the cherry and pepper tastes of the two, with some hints of blackberry. Though it has more body than the merlot, I find the finish evanesces, though the menu says it has a “smooth, lingering finished” (sic—we used my pen to correct our copies). It’s another perfectly fine wine, and again would go well with pizza or pasta.
- 2015 Tre $42
If I were ordering pizza and a glass of wine, this is the one I would get, even though it is $17 per glass. As you might guess from the name, this is a blend of three grapes: 65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc. It has a lovely dark color and an aroma of tobacco, spice, and candy. It tastes good, with cherry and dark chocolate flavors and enough tannins that I think it could age some more and be even better. It could even stand up to steak or lamb chops.
Reasons to visit: you like a small, intimate setting; you want to pretend you are in Italy; you like listening to opera while you sip; you appreciate a child-free setting; the Cantina and the Tre; you want a thin-crust pizza for lunch.