The conversations in the tiny tasting shack—a repurposed 19th century tool shed—were all about wines and wineries. The knowledgeable and interested server had plenty to contribute to the discussion. He recognized us from our last visit, a year ago, and was enthusiastic about sharing his love for One Woman’s wines. As we’ve noted in the past, every new vintage brings changes, in this case both in how the wines taste and in what wines are on the menu. We learned that, since she started, Claudia Purita, the one woman behind One Woman, has increased her acreage of vines from seventeen to thirty. (Actually, given the active participation of her daughter, maybe she should change the name to two women!) Her daughter encouraged her to add Chenin Blanc to her line-up, a good choice in our opinion.
Our first topic of discussion was the rather draconian sign outside the property, adamantly insisting on no groups over six and no limos or buses. However, once you have been there it is clear that the place is too small to accommodate large groups, though you can make an appointment to come before the opening time. Given the quality of the wines, it is worth heeding their warning, and coming with just a few people.
A tasting consists of your choice of two, three, or four wines for $6, $8, or $10. In the past, two tastings of four each would have covered all their offerings, but there are also three Reserve wines, for $4 per taste, and five limited production wines which are not available for tasting. The pour is moderate, so the two of us felt comfortable sharing two tastings, covering all eight of their standard choices. Wines are also available by the glass, at prices ranging from $10-$15 each.
- 2017 One Woman Rosé $26
Now that Croteaux has had to close their tasting room and garden, due to some issues with the town of Southold, we are on the lookout for a rosé we like as much as we like theirs. This one is in their category of light, tart, yet fruity rosés, with tastes of strawberry and raspberry, so we may return to buy a bottle or two. It is made primarily from merlot, with some pinot noir and dolcetto grapes as well. Our server informs us that they are the only winery on Long Island with dolcetto grapes, which they primarily use as a “blending grape.”
- 2016 Sauvignon Blanc $32
This is not as citrusy as some sauvignon blancs we’ve had, but is more minerally and vegetal, with an asparagus aroma. (Asparagus is in season, and we’ve been buying it every week from the farmstands, which may be one reason why we thought we smelled it!) Very light, it would be better with food, perhaps a delicate fish or seafood dish, than sipped on its own.
- 2016 Chenin Blanc $35
This is the first time they’ve offered chenin blanc, with only 50 cases produced. There was some discussion of the fact that chenin blanc can vary greatly in taste, depending on the terroir and how the grape is treated. Though One Woman’s chenin is steel fermented, it has a bit of the mouth feel of an oaked wine. The aroma is a little funky, but the wine itself is light and pleasant.
- 2016 Grüner Veltliner $26
The Grüner Veltliner is their signature wine, both because no one else on Long Island produces this wine and because it is quite good. When a couple came in and asked to taste just one wine, this was the one the server suggested. Good idea. We really liked it, and bought two bottles. It has a sweet flowery aroma, like honeysuckle, but it is not sweet. We taste citrus and gooseberry and some minerality. The taste is complex, with also some notes of spice. “White pepper?” suggests our server. “Awesome,” say I. If we can keep it that long, I may serve it with our Thanksgiving turkey (which I would buy from 8 Hands farm again, since last year’s was delicious).
- 2015 Gewürztraminer $28
We get to taste this side by side with the 2016, and the comparison shows once again how important vintage is. The aroma is somewhat typically flowery, maybe orange flower, with some pine, too. The taste is delicious, with just a touch of sweetness. It is fruitier than the 2016 Gewürztraminer, but also has plenty of minerality to balance it. There is some discussion of the effect of salt spray, from our maritime setting, on the grapes. This is a wine that would be nice to drink with something moderately spicy, but could also be sipped on its own.
- 2016 Gewürztraminer $28
Though the aroma is similar, this one’s smell is more complex, with a touch of funkiness. The wine is dryer, more austere, with less fruitiness. The finish is shorter and the legs are longer! I prefer the 2015, but I can see how some might like the 2016 more.
- 2015 Chardonnay $26
Aged partly in steel and the rest in oak, this is a nice, not too buttery chardonnay. It is dry, with some citrus and minerality and tastes of vanilla and almonds.
- 2013 Estate Reserve Chardonnay $38
“Would you like to try the Estate Reserve Chardonnay?” asks our server. Oh sure. I never turn down an offer like that! This one is aged for sixteen months in new French oak, and is definitely for those who like the California style of buttery chardonnays. Not my preference.
- 2014 Merlot $40
A fairly typical North Fork merlot, this is aged eighteen months. It has aromas of dark fruit and olives, is dry, and could be fruitier. I would say, based just on this wine, that whites are definitely One Woman’s strong suit.
- 2012 Estate Reserve Merlot $48
On the other hand, the Estate Reserve Merlot is delicious! This is another extra taste, and I’m glad we tried it. The taste is more like a cabernet sauvignon than a merlot, I think, and our server agrees. It has plenty of tannins and could use more aging, so we buy a bottle to label 2020 for the wine cellar. This is an interesting wine, with lots of dark fruit tastes, and would go well with lamb.
Reasons to visit: you really like wine and would like to chat about it with someone who shares your enthusiasm; the intimate setting; it is a bit off the beaten track—on a side road off Sound Avenue—so in general those who come here are here for the wines; the Gewürztraminer, the Grüner Veltliner, the Estate Reserve Merlot, the rosé; off in the field you can see the cows, from whose milk Frank Purita will be making his excellent gelato, accompanied by Freddie the bull.