Sparkling Pointe: For a Celebratory Mood January 14, 2017

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

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After we came home from running errands, my husband discovered that he couldn’t find his house keys (which also meant a variety of other important keys).  We retraced our steps, becoming gloomier and gloomier.  Then…he found them!  Feeling in a celebratory mood, we decided to head to the only-sparkling-wines vineyard, Sparkling Pointe.  (Well, we don’t need much encouragment to opt for a sparkling wine.)

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Everyone there seemed to be in a celebratory mood.

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Plenty of room for more people.

The airy, modern room was filled with groups at tables, enjoying bottles of wine and various snacks they had bought at the winery (outside snacks are not allowed, but they have a nice list of cheeses and charcuterie).  The place was a bit noisy, but not unpleasantly so, and the staff behind the bar was friendly and accommodating, especially when they took note of me taking notes.  The tasting menu offers four tastes for $20.  We noticed that the menu included Cuvee Carnaval, a rosé sparkling wine which we ended up dumping last time, as it was much too sweet for us.  So I asked if it was possible to substitute the Blanc de Blanc for the Carnaval.  At first she said no, but then reconsidered and said yes.  Whew.

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The menu.

With our tasting, she included a bottle of Fiji water, which was useful for cleansing our palates between tastes.  A note about the term “sparkling wines”:  the only wines which can legally be called “champagne” are those grown in the Champagne region of France.  However, these wines are made using the same method—méthode champenoise—as in France, and are made to taste similar to French champagnes.

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Nice bubbles!

  1. 2014 Brut          $29

A blend of 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir, this is a pleasant, crisp drink.  The aroma is of lemon peel and stone or mineral, and the taste of the tiny bubbles as they burst on the tongue is of pear and citrus.  Very nice.

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  1. 2009 Brut Magnum        $75 for 1.5 liters

This one is aged in the bottle—and it’s a big bottle!—for quite a while, spending four years “sur lies” (which means the wine is aged on the lees, the bits of grapes that form a sediment), giving it a more complex and interesting taste.  It is a blend of 59% chardonnay, 31% pinot noir, 5% pinot meunier, and 5% reserve.  The aroma is warmly yeasty, with a whiff of something chemical.  The first sip seems somewhat chemical to us, too, but as it sits in the glass that dissipates and we find it quite good.  This is a sparkler you could compare to French champagnes and it wouldn’t do badly.  By the way, we get a new glass with each taste, a nice idea.

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You get a nice sized pour here.

  1. 2012 Blanc de Blanc       $44

Okay, so the Blanc de Blanc is not on the tasting menu, but we’re getting it instead of the Carnaval.  Good thing too, as it is our favorite of the day.  Made of 100% chardonnay grapes, it was also ages on the lees.  It has an aroma of honey, maybe thyme honey, and crisp small bubbles.  My tasting buddy says it “blooms in the mouth.”  I say it would make a good sipping sparkler, with tastes of citrus and just a touch of sweetness.

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  1. 2007 Brut Seduction       $72

This really reminds me of a French champagne, with an aroma of baking bread and almonds.  The taste also has hints of almonds, as well a red grapefruit. The bubbles are tiny.  Our server informs us that this spends eight years on the lees, and is a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir.  Really lovely.  Too bad it is so expensive, but the method of making these wines is labor intensive and requires lots of years of investment, so the cost is understandable.

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They don’t allow outside food, but do have a nice menu–including chocolates.

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Reasons to visit:  you feel celebratory (whether because you found your keys or for some other reason); you like sparkling wines; you feel like doing some shopping in the well-stocked boutique; in the summer you can sit outside and sip champagne…I mean sparkling wine.

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Brazilian carnival masks on display in the boutique–the owners have a connection to Brazil (hence the wine named Carnaval).

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This is the first winery I’ve ever seen with its own perfume!

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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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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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.