Castello di Borghese: A Perfect Pairing     July 8, 2017

https://castellodiborghese.com/

IMG_4052

The Harvest Moon Shellfish Company truck is a sign that you should stop by Castello di Borghese for some oysters and wine.

I headlined this entry “A Perfect Pairing,” thinking about the Harvest Moon oysters we had with the Borghese 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, but it could also apply to the couple we went there with—our son and daughter-in-law.  We all enjoyed the oysters, which are on offer every weekend until October 1, for $28 a dozen, and the wine, which went perfectly with them.  The oysters were small, but sweet and briny and creamy, and the lemon in the wine complemented them beautifully.  It was a perfect July day, and we were happy to sit outside near the vines and enjoy our bottle of wine and plates of oysters.  Unfortunately, they don’t do tastings outside, so we had to go in when we decided we wanted to do a tasting as well.  (I also would urge the winery to install an attractive fence to screen the hose, etc., along the wall of the building.)

IMG_4043

A view of the outside seating area.

When we went in to examine the tasting menu, we found two options:  five Estate wines for $15, or five Reserve wines for $25.  We decided each couple would share one of each, so we could taste most of their wines, though we did miss a few.  Our server was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, happy to share both what he knew and what he liked about each wine.  The tasting room is about medium in size, with a bar along one wall and barrels with tops one can stand around on the other, so if you want to sit for a tasting this is not your place.  Also, they don’t allow outside food (at least at the moment, when they are featuring the oysters).  This is a winery which takes its wine very seriously, and is happy when visitors do the same. After all, the Borgheses bought the vineyard from the Hargraves, who were the first to plant a vineyard on the North Fork, back in 1973.  The Estate wines are marked with an *.

IMG_4029

IMG_4026

The expert shucker from Harvest Moon.

  1. .* 2015 Chardonnay $18

A good place to begin a tasting is this steel fermented chardonnay which is so light and lemony you might mistake it for a sauvignon blanc.  We smelled mineral and peach and toast aromas and one of us suggested it tasted like star fruit.  Our daughter-in-law, who is thoughtful about food and wine pairings, thought it would go well with Greek food or a corn salad.  We agreed.

  1. 2016 Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc $29

This is not the Sauvignon Blanc we had with our oysters—that one is cheaper and we actually liked it better.  This one is fermented half in oak and half in steel.  It is light and dry, with some citrus and melon tastes and a long finish.  “Blue cheese,” we agreed, would go well with it.

IMG_4031

  1. .*2014 Riesling $26

Not unexpectedly, this smells like flowers and cat pee.  Though our server described it as “off dry,” we all found it too sweet for our taste.  Our son and daughter-in-law said it tasted just like “sweet lime,” which I’ve never had, but I trust their taste buds, and thought it could pair well with watermelon juice and tequila in a margarita-type cocktail.

IMG_4045

  1. 2014 Pinot Noir Select $50

We switched to the reds on the Reserve list, as there were no other whites we wanted to try and they have quite a few reds.  The aroma is nice, of dark fruits, and the taste is also pleasant, with some notes of black pepper as well as plums.  It reminded us a bit of a Chianti, and so we thought it would go well with pasta.

  1. .*Rosé Pinot Noir $20

At the urging of our server, our tasting companions sampled this rosé (we had been given a sip of another one as we were trying to choose a wine to go with our oysters).  However, they were “not excited” about it.  Steel fermented, this is an uncomplicated dry rosé, with a taste of macerated strawberry that, I said, “evanesces.”   We then began to apply that word to all sorts of things.

IMG_4033

  1. 2015 Merlot Reserve $36

We found lots of aromas in this one—spice, pomegranate, charred wood, prunes, and, believe it or not, barbequed chicken were some of our comments.  So then of course we decided it would pair well with barbequed chicken, one with a fruity sauce.  Nice finish.

IMG_4032

  1. .*2014 Cabernet Franc $35

Good one!  With aromas of prune plum and cedar, and tastes of blueberry and spice, this one got us thinking of food pairings again.  We thought lamb chops, and then our daughter-in-law offered flank steak with chimichurri sauce or spiced chick peas (for vegetarians).  Also good ideas.

IMG_4034

  1. .*2015 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon $25

A Bordeaux-style blend of 53% merlot, 44% cabernet sauvignon, and 3% pinot noir, this is, according to our server, a very popular wine.  We can see why.  The aroma is earthy and herbal, with scents of chestnuts and fruit, and the taste is equally appealing, with lots of fruit, and just the right amount of dryness.  Food pairing?  How about spaghetti with mussels in a tomato sauce.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

You can definitely smell that this was aged in oak, with its cedar/oak aroma, plus fruit, spice, and something funky like mushrooms.  I decide it is mouth-watering.  It has lots of flavor, with dark fruits, and would go well with duck.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $44

Our server now gets into the whole food pairing thing we’ve been doing, and suggests this would go well with “a porterhouse on the grill.”  We talk it over, and once again our daughter-in-law has the perfect pairing idea—hamburger with truffle fries.  One of us compares the aroma to “dusty closet.”  Not sure about that.  However, this is another pleasant red, with nice fruit, though not very complex.

IMG_4048

The winery also has an art gallery.

IMG_4049

The art in the gallery.

Reasons to visit:  a place to get serious about wine; oysters from Harvest moon until October 1; the winery also has an art gallery where you can view and buy local art; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir Select, the Cabernet Franc, the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, the Cabernet Franc Reserve.

IMG_4042

IMG_4053

Advertisements

Castello di Borghese: Oldie but Goodie July 30, 2016

Castello di Borghese:  Oldie but Goodie July 30, 2016

You can bring your own picnic to the outside tables, but no outside beverages.

You can bring your own picnic to the outside tables, but no outside beverages.

http://www.castellodiborghese.com/

“Yes,” our server said, “these grapes come from our 43-year-old vines.”  In North Fork terms, that’s ancient history, and since the older the vines supposedly the better the wines, we were quite interested in the Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc.  The Hargraves were the first to see the potential of grape vines on the North Fork, (then the Borghese family bought their vineyard) and wow, did they ever start something.  But in the wine business there is no resting on one’s laurels (or vines), so let’s see how they are doing today.

IMG_2841

The pleasant tasting room, with several areas, including a very large room which I would assume is mostly used for parties and such, offers two menus, of Estate and Reserve wines.  You can taste four of the Estate wines for $10 or five of any of their wines for $15.  Since there are quite a few choices on both menus, including reds, whites, rosés, and dessert wines, it took us a while to choose.  In fact, we could easily go back and do a completely different tasting in the near future.  We finally settled on one 5-sample tasting, of two whites and three reds.  Our server, though at first somewhat tentative about recommendations, began to give us some helpful guidance as we progressed.

The large back room boasts quite a gallery of art.

The large back room boasts quite a gallery of art.

IMG_2850

Another neat feature of the tasting room is their ever-changing display of art works.  They have a small selection of snacks for sale, but you can bring your own picnic and settle in at the outside tables.  Glasses of wine go for $9-12, depending on which you choose.

They have quite a display of awards they've won.

They have quite a display of awards they’ve won.

  1. Chardonette/CDB White             $12

Since we are always on the lookout for inexpensive whites for weekday meals, especially in the summer, we decided this would be a good place to start.  We were right.  A mixture of mostly chardonnay with some sauvignon blanc, this is a perfect light summery white, with aromas of herbs and minerals and a crisp taste with some acidity.  This is steel fermented, so don’t expect any buttery-ness.  The menu suggests matching it with hummus or “smoked beef tartare,” whatever that is.  I think it would be a nice aperitif, well iced, with some charcuterie and cheese, on the porch, in the summer.  We buy two bottles.

I think the label for the Chardonette goes perfectly with the wine.

I think the label for the Chardonette goes perfectly with the wine.

  1. 2013 Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc $29

What a contrast!  The Chardonette is a very non-serious white, while this one is quite serious.  Complex, with aromas of butter and honeysuckle, this is a combination of oaked and un-oaked sauvignon blanc, with the oaked portion spending two months in new French oak.  There’s a touch of citrus at the end, plus interesting layers of flavor, including gooseberry (which, now that I bought some at Briermere a few weeks ago, my husband agrees it tastes like).

IMG_2840

IMG_2845

  1. 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve                 $50

The menu said 2013 Pinot Noir, but they were sold out of that, and after we discussed that change with our server he confessed that this was his favorite of their wines.  He does have expensive taste!  He brought us a new glass for the changeover to red.  “Mmmm,” said my husband.  Anything more enlightening to say, I asked?  We smell some cherry candy, taste dark fruits such as plums, plus nice tannins, and perhaps a trace of nutmeg.  This is a Burgundy, so we decide it would go well with Boeuf Bourguignon.  Making that according to Julia Child’s recipe is an all-day affair, so I guess if I put that much work into a dish it would warrant a bottle of this wine.

  1. 2013 Merlot Reserve $33

Our server informs us that this spends 14 months in French oak, which probably accounts for the trace of smoke we smell.  We also get plum and black cherry.  The wine is dry, with lots of tannins and good fruit, so it would be a good counterpoint to a fatty meat such as lamb.  My husband observes that it is very well balanced, with a good finish.  “Yum,” I add.

IMG_2846

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

As we discuss which wine to have to end our tasting, our server volunteers that this one is quite interesting, so we go with it.  He’s right (again).  We sniff and get fruit and a trace of tobacco, then sip and decide the taste is rich.  We taste dark cherries with a trace of smoke at the end, but not overwhelming, plus good tannins.  They suggest pairing with game, and I could see it with venison steaks.

IMG_2842

Bunches of lavender for sale.

Bunches of lavender for sale.

Reasons to go:  A nice calm tasting room plus picnic tables outside; the Chardonette, the Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir Reserve; art on the walls.

IMG_2851

Castello di Borghese: Wines that Go Great with Food February 21, 2015

http://www.castellodiborghese.com/

borg outside

The last time we were here, two years ago, we had a great conversation with Ann Marie Borghese, the owner, with her husband, of this excellent winery.  Since then, alas, they both have died.  However, their three children—Allegra, Fernando, and Giovanni—have committed to keeping the vineyard going.  We were wondering what the tasting room experience would be like under the new regime, and were happy to find the same careful, well-informed, personal, and cheerful service as before.  Whew.  The wines were also pretty good!

The tasting room is divided into two areas, one with the bar and a few gift items, and the other with tables and chairs, an art gallery, and a small stage.  Alas, Marguerite Volans, a frequent musical performer, was not there.

The stage for performers.

The stage for performers.

Our enthusiastic and well-versed server explained the menu choices to us.  For $10 you can choose any four wines from the Estate wines side of the menu, and for $15 you can choose any five wines from either the Estate side or the Reserve side.  Since if we each tried five wines we would be able to cover most of their choices, we decided to go with that option, which would also let us taste some similar wines side by side.  We opted to skip the rosé, since we are such Croteaux fans, and a few others.  In addition to the menu items, we were also offered the opportunity to taste some newly bottled examples of the 2013 vintage.  I’ll mark the wines from the Reserve menu and the new vintages with an *.

Walking into the bar area.

Walking into the bar area.

  1. 2013 Chardonnay            $18

The steel-fermented chard got our tasting off to a good start.  We got lots of pineapple smells, as well as a bit of grapefruit.  Typical of a steel chard, this is crisp and fairly tart, with nice citrus flavors.  Kumquat, says my husband, and I agree, kumquat with the skin on.  Good with scallops, suggests our server.

  1. *2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $26

I don’t always like oaked chards, but this one only spent six months in oak, so it is still fairly delicate, with butterscotch aromas and some wheat toast flavors as well as fruit.  2012 was a great year on the North Fork, with a dry September that allowed grapes to really ripen.  It was also interesting to taste these two very different wines made from the same grape.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $24

Yum, another good white.  This wine is also steel-fermented, with an aroma that reminds me of white grape juice.  How odd, a wine that smells like grapes…This is also dry, with citrus taste dominated by grapefruit, and I could be very happy pairing it with some local oysters.

  1. *2013 Founders Field Sauvignon Blanc $24

How interesting.  Still some of that grape juice smell, with a bit of butterscotch from its two months in oak, but the taste is quite different, almost funky, with a bit of a metallic tang.  “Austere,” says my husband.  I think it needs to be drunk with food, I counter, and our server agrees.  Maybe seafood in a cream sauce, like a New England clam chowder, would be a good idea.

borg wine

  1. *2013 Bianco di Pinot Noir $50

I always like to try something new, so I suggest we try two whites which sound interesting.  This one is made from pinot noir grapes, which are usually used to make red wines.  In this case, they took the skins off in order to make a white wine.  Hmmm…it smells really nice.  Chocolate, suggests my tasting pal, and I have to agree.  But it smells better than it tastes, tart, with a very short finish, and not complex.  It’s good with cheese and crackers, we are told, and I can see that.

  1. *2012 White Meritage $60

Usually, Meritage means a red blend, so I’m intrigued.  This is a mixture of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, and in contrast to the previous wine has more and better taste than aroma.  It smells somewhat like acetone (phenols, says my scientific companion) but has some good citrus and grapefruit tastes.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir                $30

Now we switch to reds, and get new glasses, always a nice touch.  Pinot noir is the Burgundy grape, lighter than Bordeaux, and so it is.  The menu says “soft tannins,” but I don’t sense any.  I smell raspberry and a woodsy aroma and taste lightly fruity berries.  I could see this slightly chilled on a summer picnic with roast chicken.  Speaking of chilled, we were pleased that none of the wines were served too cold, which often happens, and which makes it harder to really taste the wines.

borg red

  1. *2013 Pinot Noir Reserve $55

This is one of the new releases, and we are interested to see how it compares with the 2012 Pinot.  Again, we get a woodsy and raspberry aroma, with some additional fruit smells.  We like this one much better (though maybe not $25 better).  It has lots of cherry flavor, not much in the way of tannins, and is also a fairly light red.  We are told that pinot noir is a “heartbreak grape,” as it can be finicky and doesn’t always deliver on its promise.  We are also told that the snow is actually good for the vines, as it acts as almost a blanket for the dormant vines.

  1. *2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

This is also a new release, and we are advised to try it before the cab sauv.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but with lots of red fruit to it.  We like it, but again think it would benefit by being served with food.  It is dry, with some nice fruit tastes, and would complement a barbeque very nicely.  I envision digging our Weber out from the snow bank it currently inhabits.  Not gonna happen!

Some of the gift items for sale

Some of the gift items for sale

  1. *2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $44

I think this wine demonstrates the risk of serving a newly bottled wine, as we feel it would benefit from more time.  It’s closed, says my husband, who has been reading wine magazines for years.  It has some good tannins and dark fruit—black cherry in particular—tastes.  We think it might be good in a few years, and if we had room in the cellar might have given it a chance.  Time to drink some more reds from the cellar!

The lovely Allegra

The lovely Allegra

  1. 2010 Allegra $36

If you’re counting, you realize that we should be at the end of our tasting, but our server, noticing our seriousness and my note-taking, asks if we want to try anything else.  Well, I ask, is there anything we should try?  Okay, she says, you have to try our dessert wine, made from chardonnay grapes.  A new, smaller glass appears, and we get a taste.  Very delicious!  Aromas of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass, tastes of honey and apricot, but not too sweet, not at all cloying, we agree, and we buy a bottle.  Then, all the way home, we discuss what to have it with.  I think if we did a dessert course of Catapano goat cheese and local peaches it would go beautifully.  Or if we had an appetizer course of paté…It was named, by the way, for Allegra Borghese, on the occasion of her 16th birthday.  She must be a lovely person!

borg honey

Reasons to visit:  you want to try an all-around good winery that is not inundated with buses; you’re curious about the oldest vineyard (it was originally Hargreaves) on the North Fork; some interesting choices; the 2013 steel Chardonnay, the 2012 Barrel Chardonnay, the 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve, the 2010 Allegra; servers who really know the wines.

borg sign

The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.

The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.

Castello di Borghese March 16, 2013

Borghese roomhttp://www.castellodiborghese.com/

“March winds do blow/And we shall have snow…”  Yes, indeed we shall.  As flurries swirled around us, we drove along Route 48, trying to decide on a winery to visit.  First we went past Vineyard 48, but the presence of no less than eight buses in the parking lot dissuaded us (but if you want a party, that might be the place for you) and so we headed on down the road to Castello di Borghese, Long Island’s oldest vineyard.  It was originally started by the Hargraves, who then sold it to Prince Marco and Princess Ann Marie Borghese (hence the name castello=castle) in 1999.

The pleasant tasting room has two main areas, a nicely set up bar and gift shop area and a larger room with tables and chairs, where Marguerite Volonts was singing beautifully and playing guitar.  When she segued from songs like “Autumn in New York” to some French cabaret songs we could imagine we were in Paris.  The tasting menu offers two basic options, as well as separate tastings of their more pricey offerings, such as Meritage.  You can taste four of their Estate wines for $9.00 or five of their Reserve wines for $12.00, so we opt for one of each.  However, as Nancy our server notes our careful swirling and sipping and note-taking, she begins to suspect something, and when Ann Marie Borghese comes out from the back room she asks point blank if I am a blogger.  They’re onto me!  So we get some additional tastes, but I note that two other groups who also evince seriousness about wine are also given some extras.  Borghese also offers an $18 cheese plate.

The following notes are in the order in which we tasted the wines, with the Estate wines marked with a *.  Oh, and they were sold out of the Riesling which we wanted to taste.

Borghese white

  1.  *2011 Estate Chardonnay                            $18

This is a fairly typical steel-fermented chardonnay, with aromas of vegetable, mineral, and pine sap.  Though not for sipping, it is nicely tart, with notes of green apple and lemon, and would be a good summer wine, maybe with a rich seafood dish.

     2.  2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay        $26

Typical aromas of vanilla and oak greet our noses, but the wine itself is much less buttery than most oaked chards, is a bit too lemony for our taste, and the finish is weak.

3.  *2011 Sauvignon Blanc                                  $24

They are quite proud of their Sauvignon Blanc, which has won some competitions, and (having already ascertained that I am a blogger) they give us both tastes of this.  I have to admit that it does not knock my socks off (and, as my husband notes, it is hard to knock my socks off), which seems to disappoint them, though it is a pleasant wine.  There’s not much aroma, primarily of some minerality, but it tastes better than it smells, though it is very light.  I could see having this with oysters (which would probably improve how much I like it), which would highlight the flavors of lemon and herb (thyme?).

Borghese red

The Borgheses are justifiable proud of their reds, and they give two reasons for why they are so good.  One is that the vines are older than most others on the North Fork, and the other is that Cutchogue has a very favorable micro-climate, with more sunny days than anywhere else in New York State, giving the grapes more time and warmth in which to ripen.  They are expecting great things of the 2012 vintage, since it was the warmest year yet, with a very warm spring followed by a hot summer and a harvest that came just before Hurricane Sandy.

4.  *2008 Pinot Noir Estate                                                 $30

As we hold the glass up to the light, we comment on the pretty light ruby color of the wine.  The aroma has some earthiness as well as sticky berry scents.  Though there is not much tannin, the taste is very good, with a balance of sweet and dry and not-quite-ripe Bing cherry tastes.  Nice long finish, too.

5.  2008 Pinot Noir Barrel Fermented                            $48

“The oldest Pinot Noir grapes on Long Island,” we are informed.  Aroma?  Cedar?  Terroir? Pencil shavings!  Fortunately, it tastes of berries, not pencil shavings, with nicely balanced tannins and a tart finish.  Very good indeed.

6.  *2007 Merlot Estate                                                       $25

The color of this is slightly darker than the Pinot, but also very attractive.  A strong aroma of berries precedes tastes of sweet berry, cedar, and just a touch of tobacco, with a long fruity finish.  Excellent, and very buyable, which we do.

7.  2007 Merlot Reserve                                                      $30

We love doing side by side tastings of two wines made from the same grape in the same year, but given different treatments.  Interestingly, we like the Estate better than the more expensive Reserve, though this is also a very good wine.  We again scent cedar and taste lots of fruit, and less sweetness than the Estate Merlot, so perhaps more balanced.  The difference in treatment is that the Estate is aged for 13 months and the Reserve for 18, both in oak barrels.

8.  *2010 Cabernet Franc Estate                                      $27

Nice legs!  No, we’re not being sexist, we’re just commenting on the way the wine forms “legs”—drips, essentially, along the sides of the glass when we swirl it.  Aromas of plums and spice herald tastes of dark ripe cherry and spice, and the tannins promise room to grow.  Nancy also points out that this has won awards, and would be a good wine to cellar.  We agree, and buy two bottles of this as well.

9.  2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve                                     $44

Again, it’s interesting to taste two similar wines side by side.  This Cab Franc has more fruit aroma than the other, with some notes of toast and earth but lots of delicious fruit.  We taste blackberry, and they say mulberry (which we might agree with if we remembered what mulberry tasted like), and nicely balanced tannins.  I’d love to have this with venison or some other lean game, maybe bison from North Quarter Buffalo Farm!

10.  *2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate                            $29

Okay, so if you’re counting you realize that our tasting should be done, but we never turn down extras (and we almost never spit, either).  We smell pine tar and fruit, and then taste a dry red with a surprising hint of citrus at the end.  We’re not liking this until Nancy offers us drinks of water to refresh our palates, at which point we find it tastes much better.  This would be great with pizza or Italian pasta dishes.

11.  2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve                           $44

Lovely aromas with lots of fruit, maybe currants, and not much earthy terroir, this is a good wine, but we’re not sure it is worth the price, since we’re not sure how well it would age.  Again, we seem to prefer the Estate version.

12.  Meritage                                                                             $60

I have wandered off to peruse the few gift items, assuming our tasting is over, when I am called back for one last bonus tasting, the Bordeaux-style Meritage.  This is a blend, 50% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and it would certainly give a French Bordeaux a run for its money (especially given its great legs).  Beautiful color and nice legs, an aroma of mineral and spice, and a really delicious taste of berry and spice make this a wine I’d happily drink any time, though the price would limit when!  If you go, definitely taste it, as it is worth the extra fee.

Reasons to go:  pleasant room with well-informed and generous servers and the chance to chat with an owner; the red wines, many of which are better than the average Long Island reds (not so much the whites, though maybe the Riesling would have been an exception); avoidance of busloads; a pleasant room in which to sit and listen to music if they are offering that (check their web site).