Bedell Cellars: Artistic Elegance  July 6, 2017

https://www.bedellcellars.com/

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The weather man was predicting rain, so we decided to take our guests to Bedell, rather than opt for a winery where we would sit outside.  As it happened, the sun came out, but we did not regret our choice.  Bedell has some lovely and interesting wines, and the most artistic labels on Long Island.  As we’ve been told before by servers, the owner is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, and he commissions labels from various modern artists.  Given the prices on the wines, maybe they could include little reproductions of the artwork with the purchase of each bottle!

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Each label is also a work of art.

The tasting room is small and simply elegant, with a high ceiling and a black and white color scheme. There is also a covered porch to one side.  We settled down at a table for four and perused the flight menu—which didn’t take long, as they have simplified their options.  Now there is only one choice—a flight of five wines for $20.  Each couple opted to share a tasting, which worked out fine.  They also have a small snack menu, with one unusual choice:  an individual serving of North Fork honey.  We had brought some mixed nuts, which helped us appreciate at least one of the wines, as you will see.

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Their menu of snacks.

  1. Sparkling Rosé 2016      $45

What a perfect way to start our tasting, especially since we were also celebrating my husband’s birthday.  A pretty pink—“Nice color for a bridesmaid’s dress,” opined our friend—with an aroma of strawberries, this is made from a mixture of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon.  Unlike the sparkling white we had here last time, this is made by injecting CO2, not by the méthode champenoise.  While not complex, the taste is delicious, crisp and dry and fruity.  One of us threatened to drink a whole bottle…

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  1. Taste White 2015 $50

Our server informed us that this was the “wine of the month,” and was therefore on sale at half price.  Noting the vintage, I opined that they wanted to clear out the stock to make space for a newer wine, as many whites are better drunk young, not aged.  Both the blend of grapes and the aroma intrigued us.  It is a combination of 65% albariño, plus chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and viognier, and is steel fermented.  We kept sniffing and discussing the smell, which we described variously as mineral, burnt cork, funky, and garden mulch.  The taste was equally complicated, with fruit, mineral, metal, and citrus notes.  We liked it, but were wondering about food pairings, since it has an unusual flavor and would overwhelm something delicate, like sole.  I’m thinking it might have gone well with the grilled swordfish topped with tomato relish my friend had later for dinner at ALure.

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  1. Gallery 2014 $75

That’s quite a price for a Long Island white, and though we enjoyed the wine we did not feel it was worth it.  A combination of 65% chardonnay and 25% viognier aged in oak, plus 10% steel-fermented sauvignon blanc, we thought it was slightly reminiscent of a California chardonnay, though not as oaky.  The taste was complex, with notes of citrus and salt and mineral and some butterscotch.  We felt it was a bit too sweet, though I think that may have been the fruitiness rather than the sweetness.  When we ate some nuts and then tasted it again, we liked it better, so it is definitely a food wine.

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There are not many wineries where the wine labels could also double as art museum labels.

  1. Merlot 2014 $35

We got clean glasses for the reds.  Mmm, this smelled delicious, with lots of fruity, plummy, cherry aromas.  It also tasted quite good, dry, but with lots of fruit and a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg.  Nice tannins.  It might age well.  You could have this with steak and be quite happy.  Or bison, which, as our server informed us, is what it was paired with in 2009 at a Presidential inauguration lunch.

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  1. Cabernet Franc 2014 $45

“This sends nine months in neutral oak,” our server told us, and we felt pretty neutral about the wine as well.  Just okay, was my judgement.  Definitely tasted red plums and other fruits in this dry red, but it was not as full-bodied as the merlot, which we all preferred.

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One side of the bar.

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A table, with a view out to the porch.

Reasons to visit:  attractive tasting room and covered porch; the pretty labels; the Sparkling Rosé, the Taste White, and the Merlot.  I also noted a trend I’ve seen in more and more tasting rooms—you can buy a bottle to drink there, but it will cost you more than if you buy a bottle to take home.  $10 more in this case!

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Bedell Cellars: High Art October 17, 2015

http://www.bedellcellars.com/

The bottles feature works of art by contemporary artists.

The bottles feature works of art by contemporary artists.

“Our owner is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art,” explained our well-informed server when we commented on the art on the wine bottle labels.  “He commissioned Chuck Close to do that one,” she added, as we admired the bunch of grapes on one label.  Wow.  And the prices of the wines also elicited a wow, including the Musée 2010, which is $125 a bottle.  You can learn more about the artists and the labels on Bedell’s web page, so I’m just going to discuss what’s in the bottles.

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And what’s in the bottles is quite good—though I’m not sure it’s $125 good.  The tasting menu offers two options:  five Estate wines for $15, or five Premium wines for $20, both featuring three whites and two reds.  We decide to share a Premium tasting, which turns out to be a good idea, as the pour is generous.  We also decide to return later in the winter to try the other menu.

One view of the large porch tasting room.

One view of the large porch tasting room.

We are standing at the bar, our favorite place for tastings, as this gives us the chance to chat with the servers and observe the scene.  This part of the tasting room is not very large, but an enclosed porch off to one side is much bigger, and is where most of the people doing tastings have congregated on this brisk sunny fall day.   It looks to us as though they could use more help behind the bar as it gets quite busy, but the servers do a good job of keeping us in mind, and we’re impressed that they never stop smiling.

This is my favorite label

This is my favorite label

  1. Blanc de Blanc 2010 $60

We start off with a 100% chardonnay sparkling wine, fermented in the bottle using the Méthode Champenoise.  Whoa, this is REALLY dry, also crisp and quite good, with a nice minerality and lots of flavor.  The aromas include yeast, mushrooms, and celery.  As it sits in the glass we get some hints of sweetness.  Definitely lighter than a California sparkling chardonnay, it would pair well with goat cheese or a mushroom terrine.  Mushrooms are on our mind lately, since we hope soon to check out the local mushroom growers whose storefront always seems to be closed.

  1. 2014 Viognier $40

Mmm, this smells nice, maybe some sticky peach, and my husband says French toast.  Maybe.  Light, dry, with what the tasting notes call “flinty minerality,” and also some peach tastes, this is a delicate wine that would go well with local flounder lightly sautéed in butter.

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  1. 2013 Gallery $75

This is a blend of 70% chardonnay, 24% viognier, and 6% sauvignon blanc, and is described by our server as a “white wine for red wine lovers.”  I want to ask her why, but she’s called away at that moment.  Perhaps it is because of the complexity of the flavors or the richness of the taste.  The wine is first fermented in steel, then spends ten months in new French oak, so it does have some buttery vanilla notes, but not too much.  We taste unripe peach, minerals, “hay” (according to my husband), and a touch of something chemical.  This starts off seeming quite tart, then gets sweeter, with a slight tingle on the tongue, and I could see drinking it as an aperitif.  It would also be fun to give this to people at a tasting and see what they make of it.

Merlot art

Merlot art

  1. 2013 Merlot $35

We get a new glass for each red.  The merlot spends ten months in French oak, so not very oaky.  We smell some chocolate, maybe Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, then taste.  Briermere blueberry crunch pie, my tasting pal insists.   Hmmm.  It is very soft, not at all tannic, though dry, and does not have lots of the cherry flavor you usually get in a Long Island merlot.  It’s okay, but I see no reason to buy it over many other merlots.

I guess you could soak off the label and say you own a Chuck Close print.

I guess you could soak off the label and say you own a Chuck Close print.

  1. Musée 2010 $125

A Right Bank Bordeaux blend, this is 65% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 3% petit verdot, and 2% syrah, and features the Chuck Close label.  Though the price somewhat takes our breath away, this is a pleasure to drink.  It is aged 14 months in French oak, and has lots of layers of fruit flavors, with very soft tannins.  Nice mouth feel, and the aroma reminds us of raisins or Craisins.  We have had the opportunity to taste very high end French Bordeaux, and this does not quite equal those (at least in memory—don’t know what we’d think in a head to head tasting), but it is quite good.

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Reasons to visit:  the chance to admire some very artistic labels; the Blanc de Blanc, the Gallery, the Musée.

Patient pooch on the porch

Patient pooch on the porch

Another view of the porch

Another view of the porch

Bedell Cellars 8/7/12

http://www.bedellcellars.com/

If someone ever gives an award to a winery for attention to design, Bedell should get it.  From the pretty flower-surrounded parking lot to the attractive type-face of their signs to the arty labels on their wines, it is clear that someone is paying attention to appearance, and doing it very well.  The tasting room is well-designed, and the outside veranda lovely.  Even the servers wear a “uniform”–checked shirts with the Bedell logo.  Happily, the wines are equally well-designed!  We are here on a warm late summer afternoon with our daughter, son-in-law, and a now 14-month-old distraction, so not all of my notes are as comprehensive as they could be.  However, many of the technical details of their wines are readily available on their web page.

There are two tasting options (as well as the usual ability to buy wines by the glass or the bottle):   The Estate tasting includes 5 wines from their lower priced line for $10, while the Premium tasting gives you 5 tastes of their higher priced wines for $15.  We opt for one flight per couple, with one pair trying the premium and the other the estate so we can taste all ten wines.  The pour is small, but since we are there at the end of the day (4:30), a couple of times we get the benefit of a little extra to empty a bottle!  The servers are very knowledgeable and pleasant, and we also enjoy chatting with another young couple with a baby in tow, and our granddaughter enjoys meeting the calm and very friendly golden lab who is allowed into the room just to say hello.

Estate Tasting:

1)  2010 First Crush White          $18

This is a mostly steel-fermented blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling that is light and tart and refreshing.  The aroma is of mineral and chalk, and the fruit is subtle but there, with a pleasant dryness.

2)  2011 Chardonnay          $25

The server explains that this wine spends some time in neutral oak barrels (in other words, in barrels that have already been used for previous fermentations, and so have lost much of their oaky taste) in order to give the wine a better texture, and indeed, it does have a pleasant mouth feel.  The tasting notes also point out that beach stones are used in the casks, which we learn help to keep the cask full.  How much, if anything, they do for the flavor is debatable.  The flavor is pleasantly citrusy.

3)  2011 Taste Rose          $18

This is a light, fairly nondescript blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv.   Can’t compete with Croteaux’s roses.

4)  2010 First Crush Red          $18

This is a Beaujolais Nouveau style of light red, and would be nice slightly chilled with a roast chicken.  The aroma has some of that North Fork earthiness, but it tastes better than it smells.

5)  2009 Merlot          $20

Nice berry aroma, and a typical Long Island Merlot, though without the earth flavor that is sometimes too prevalent.

Premium Tasting

1)  2011 Sparkling Rose          $35

This is NOT a champagne-style sparkling wine, but rather one made by injecting CO2 into the tanks.  It is a refreshing blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot, but tastes a bit too much like a pink soda to me.

2)  2011 Viognier          $35

Winner!  This is a delicious white with lots of citrus and pleasing amount of complexity, despite a somewhat funky aroma.  Since I have no earlier notes on this wine, my guess is it is a new one for Bedell.

3)  2010 Gallery         $40

The Viognier grape also appears in this blend, which adds Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to the mix.  The aroma reminds me of lemon candy, and the taste has a sweetness of ripe fruit to it, but it is a pleasant wine.

4)  2010 Taste Red          $35

Yum.  The server notes that this was aged for 12 months, and is a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Malbec.  The aroma is intensely berry berry, and the taste is lovely, with lots of fruit but dry.  Good tannins.

5)  Musee          $75  (!)

This rather pricey wine is also a Bordeaux blend, with an aroma of coffee and plum.  It spends 14 months in a combination of oak and old oak, and is a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Petit Verdot.  Though it is a good wine, with some complexity and good fruit flavor and a nice finish, we feel it is not worth the price.

Our son-in-law buys the First Crush Red, a good choice, we all agree.

Reasons to visit:  beautiful room and attractive labels; good though expensive wines; First Crush Red.