Pugliese Vineyards: Crowd Pleaser March 10, 2018

http://pugliesevineyards.com/

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The pergola and pond make a pretty outdoor setting–but not in the winter!

We’ve driven past Pugliese many times in the summer, noting the crowds at the outdoor tables and the many limos (by appointment only) in the parking lot, and given it a pass.  But we figured a March Saturday would be safe, and indeed, when we entered, there was only one other couple there.  However, as we were leaving the first of what the servers told us would be several groups arrived, a bunch of bachelorettes in matching burgundy sweatshirts emblazoned with wine-related quips, with the bride-to-be in a matching white sweatshirt.  “Rise and wine,” read the one on a cheery woman, who informed us that this was already (at 2 PM) their third winery.

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The limos were starting to gather.

If we hadn’t been on our way out, I would have recommended that they start with the sparkling Blanc de Noir, which was one of the wines we did like, and would have been a suitably festive start to their tasting.  But I would guess that many of the wines on the Pugliese menu are crowd-pleasers, as they are generally un-challenging and easy to drink, as well as moderately priced.

 

For $12 you can choose any four wines on their extensive menu of four sparkling wines, seven whites (including one rosé), seven reds, and five dessert wines.  We decided to share two tastings, trying one sparkler, the rosé, two whites, and four reds.  As we sipped we admired the view out the window of Pugliese’s pretty grounds, with a vine-covered pergola and a fountain-centered pond.  It would be a nice place to bring a picnic in the summer, though they discourage food in the tasting room itself (and a sign on the door admonishes “No Pets”).  (One server remembered a group that brought a huge cake with them, and left “crumbs everywhere.”)

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One view of the tasting rooms.

The tasting room itself is not huge, but there is a side room with tables.  That space is lined with tables laden with gift baskets, which feature the pretty flower-decorated bottles of Pugliese wines and hand-painted wine or champagne glasses, all wrapped up in cellophane.  If you need to pick up a gift basket in a hurry, this is the place.  They also have a selection of matted photographs, mostly of local nature scenes, for sale at reasonable prices.

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Nice bubbles in the bubbly

  1. 2010 Blanc de Noir Nature         $25.99

Made from 100% pinot noir grapes (all their grapes are grown on their estate, we were informed), this has the typical yeasty aroma of a champagne.  It is a pleasant sparkler, not complicated, with nice bubbles and a bready flavor.  It would work for a toast (no pun intended!).

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We enjoyed the view as we sipped.

  1. 2014 Pinot Grigio $17.99

At first, I didn’t detect any aroma, but on a second sniff I decided it smelled like clover honey, plus minerals.  It also tastes a bit like honey that has somehow had the sweetness removed from it, or like a tart dish that has been flavored with honey.  My husband complained that it was “watery,” and I agreed that it was very light.  Not a sipper, it needs to go with food, maybe charcuterie, though it has so little flavor most food would overwhelm it.

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  1. 2015 Veronica’s Rosé $17.99

Why Veronica?  “I wanted to name a wine after my niece,” said one server, who was most likely a member of the Pugliese family, since they are generally in the tasting room.  This is another light, dry wine, with typical strawberry aroma and flavor, again not complex.  It has a pretty pink color from the merlot grapes.

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I commented on the pretty labels, and was thanked. On a previous visit I was told that Pat Pugliese painted the design.

  1. 2016 Chardonnay Gold $14.99

They have an oak-fermented chard, but we decided to go with the steel, since we tend to prefer those.  I was also thinking if we liked it we’d buy a bottle, to go with the fish we planned to buy at Braun’s later.  However, we cancelled the trip to Braun’s when we realized we’d be stuck in the Cutchogue St. Patrick’s Day parade, and, though we found the chardonnay pleasant, we didn’t like it enough to buy it.  (Instead we stopped at 8 Hands Farm and picked up some of their delicious bratwurst.)  Though the chard is a bit sweet, it is balanced by good fruit flavors of citrus, mango, and pineapple.  My tasting buddy says it would have gone well with a dish I made a couple of days ago, called Chicken Veronique, chicken breasts cooked with grapes and mushrooms.

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The grape is the one used to make chianti, but this is not a very chianti-like wine.

  1. 2012 Sangiovese $16.99

I was interested to taste this, as it is advertised on the menu as “Long Island’s only chianti.”  I like chianti.  I wouldn’t have necessarily identified this as a chianti, however, and, considering that 2012 was supposed to have been a good year for reds on the North Fork, this was a rather disappointing wine.  However, it is drinkable, with no tannins, very light and dry.  Not much fruit.  My husband says it has “no oomph,” sort of a “generic wine.”  It would be okay with pizza.

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  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc $16.99

Their reds certainly are reasonably priced for the North Fork.  This is another light, easy to drink wine, with no tannins.  You get a bit of fruit with the first sip, but the taste soon evanesces.  You could pair this with pasta with a not-powerful sauce.

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  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $16.99

Nice aroma of dark fruit and berries precedes a taste also of dark fruit and berries, with a touch of tannins.  It’s the best red so far, but again has no depth and is rather light.

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  1. 2013 Sunset Meritage $34.99

Why sunset?  “It’s just a name.”  You need a non-varietal name for a blend, which this is, a mixture of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon.  It’s the best red of the day, which is not saying much.  Again, it is a relatively simple, light wine, “tame,” according to my drinking pal.  It is pleasant, but not worth the price.

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Entrance–the little signs say no food inside and no pets inside–which I assume means both are okay outside.

Reasons to visit:  pretty setting for sitting outside; very crowd-friendly if you’re coming with a limo (which I actually did one time); lots of choices on the menu; the Blanc de Noir, the Chardonnay Gold, the Sunset Meritage; you prefer light, easy-to-drink wines with no complexity; lots of gift baskets and hand-painted glasses.

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Macari Vineyards May 18, 2013

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http://www.macariwines.com/

This weekend we went to what we call the “Irish” winery—not because it is Irish, but because a friend, hearing the name but not seeing it, thought it was McCary!  In fact, so Italian (not Irish) are they that the Macari family has given several of their wines Italian names, including Collina, for the hills on which their vineyard is located, and Sette, for Settefrati, the town in Italy from which their family emigrated.

Macari has two tasting rooms, a commodious building just off Sound Avenue and another, formerly the Gallucio Family Winery, on Main Road in Cutchogue.  We’ve been to both, but this time we went to the one on Main Road.  As you enter, you see the road forks both up the hill and down.  Both ways lead to parking lots, so you can pick either way, but the uphill one enables you to drop off passengers at the door.  Both rooms have outdoor areas far enough from the road to feel pleasantly rustic.

We had an irrational prejudice against Macari because early in our winery-visiting days we walked in right behind a group of bachelorettes who stumbled out of their limo, beer cans in hand, plastic flowers in their hair, and proceeded to be quite raucous.  Not Macari’s fault!

The Main Road tasting room is a pleasant space, with a curving copper-topped bar and a nice selection of gift items, including hand painted wine glasses and tea towels with the word Wineaux on them.  A white flight of four tastes is $8 and a red flight is $12.  They also offer artisanal cheeses and salumi for $7-10.00, including crackers.   The servers are pleasant and well-informed, though it is a bit disconcerting to hear the same spiel delivered word for word to your neighbors at the bar. By the way, if you want to go you should go soon, as they are celebrating their 15th anniversary with a very nice sale on many of their wines.

We opted to do one tasting of whites and one of reds, sharing as we went.

Macari white

  1.   2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                   $23

This bears the subtitle “Katherine’s Field,” and our server noted it is their “signature wine.”  This steel-fermented white has aromas of herbs and baked pear (they say), and we think thyme and unripe cantaloupe.  We also taste unripe cantaloupe, along with a tart acidity and not much fruit.  Not really for sipping, but it would be a good oyster wine.

2.  2010 Riesling                                                      $27

Though this uses grapes from upstate, it escapes the sometimes over-sweetness one finds with that fruit.  A flowery aroma precedes tastes of grapefruit and dried apricot which unfolds quite pleasantly on the palate.  Good finish and, we conclude, a really lovely well-made Riesling.

3.  Collina Chardonnay                                         $13

The server describes this as their “house white,” and notes that it is a combination of oak and steel-fermented wine, which should make it quite pleasant but does not.  I think of the taste and smell as reminding me of a vacation house that has been closed up too long, with a sensation of damp and slightly moldy wood.  We dump the remainder in the spit bucket, something we rarely do.  Even on sale for $10, I can’t see buying this!

  4.  2012 Early Wine                                                                $17

This is a special production of their Austrian winemaker, and is called early wine because…it is picked early.  In late August, they harvest these mostly chardonnay grapes, and age the wine not at all, yielding an almost clear liquid.  We think it will be tart, but instead it is rather sweet, with aromas of grass or hay and tastes of pear with a slight edge of lemon.  Not bad, but not for us.

Macari red

  5.  Collina 48 Merlot                                                              $13

New glass for the reds, always a nice touch.  Mostly Merlot, with 5% each of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, this is a simple table-type wine that would be better with food than just sipping.  We smell tobacco and bay leaf and taste some berry, but the taste leaves the tongue quickly and is quite dry and tart.

 6.  Sette Red Blend                                                                                    $19

Named for Settefrati (seven brothers), the village from which the Macaris emigrated, this is our favorite of the wines so far.  A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, this wine smells to us like a combination of cocoa mulch (try it on your garden some time, but I warn you, every time you weed you’ll crave a chocolate bar) and green olives, with nice plum flavors.  Very buyable.

 7.   2007 Merlot Reserve                                                     $36

After 16 months in French oak, this merlot is then aged for four years, so it was just recently released.  We detect a bit of menthol in the aroma, and also berry pie (a smell you’ll recognize if you’ve ever been to Briermere while they are baking).  The taste starts sweet, then becomes quite nice, with black cherry and enough tannins that our tongues tingle.  Interesting, and quite good.

8.  2008 Dos Aguas                                                                 $27

Two waters, we ask?  For the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, the two bodies of water that frame the North Fork, she replies.  A Bordeaux blend, Dos Aguas combines 70% merlot with 17% cabernet sauvignon, 8% malbec, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.  Strongly spicy aromas of nutmeg and berries, maybe some plum, make us anticipate a delicious wine, but it is not to be.  Really not much to this one at all.

They also have, available by the glass but not included in the tasting, a couple of rosés and some dessert wines as well as a few additional wines.  We buy two bottles of Sette and two Wineaux tea towels (how could we not?).

Macari Wineaux

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room and outside seating area in a rustic setting; 2010 Riesling and Sette Red Blend; some nice gift items; choice of two tasting rooms so if you want to go there you can be flexible as to your route.