Surrey Lane: Serendipity November 18, 2018

Greenport is quiet in the winter, but often quite pretty.

http://www.surreylanevineyard.com/index.html

We were in Greenport to run an errand and stroll around town when my husband remembered that this was the first weekend for the Greenport Farmers’ Market, so we headed over to First and South (also the address of one of our favorite restaurants) to check it out.  We found a sparsely populated room, but with some interesting vendors:  a couple of cheese mongers, a fish market, some organic vegetables, the local jerky maker, etc.  Then we noticed a stand for Surrey Lane winery.

I’d been noticing the colorful signs for the Surrey Lane Vineyard Orchard Farm for a couple of years now, but I also knew that they didn’t have a tasting room, so this seemed like a good chance to find out about their wines.  Don, the friendly guy pouring free tastes of the wines, pointed out that he is also an artist and musician.  We noted his drawings for sale behind him, and as we left we heard him start to entertain the room with some folk-y songs. 

By the way, the link above to their website leads you to a basically blank page.  If you want more information, click the link to their Facebook page which is about all that is on the web page.

I hadn’t planned to do a tasting, so I didn’t have my notebook, and we only tried three wines, but here are my brief impressions.

1.        Sauvignon Blanc

Fairly typical mineral and citrus tastes, but also an intriguing smoky note.

2.       Trebbiano

Very good, with some lemon but also mandarin orange taste.  Dry.


3.       Merlot  $23

A good example of a North Fork merlot, dry, with tastes and smells of cherry and some nice tannins.  We bought a bottle.

If they ever open a tasting room I’ll be sure to check out the rest of their offerings.

Raphael Vineyards and Winery: On a Winter’s Day January 27, 2017

http://www.raphaelwine.com/

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Greenport was quiet. Some stores had their “closed for the season” signs up, while others had signs saying they would open at 11, but were still closed at 11:10.  As a woman in one shop said to me last winter, when I asked about her neighboring shop not being open, “It’s winter in Greenport.”  Indeed it is, as a chilly wind reminded us.

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The architecture says Italy, but the weather says January in New York.

After a few errands, including a stop at Eight Hands Farm to pick up some free-range chicken, we headed to Raphael Winery, hoping it was not closed for a private party, which is often the case.  It is not surprising that Raphael is a popular venue for weddings and other events, since they have a very spacious and attractive facility.  Our enthusiastic and very well-informed server told us that we should come by on Sundays, since they don’t schedule parties on that day and often have free entertainment as well.

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The attractive room is often used for weddings.

On this blustery Friday we were the only people there, so we were able to have great chats with our server, who had answers for all our questions and some good ideas of his own, especially about food pairings.  No surprise, he revealed that he had worked in restaurant kitchens.  The menu offers a number of options, including a mixed tasting of reds and whites and two premium tastings.  The white premium tasting offers four whites for $20, and the red has four reds, also for $20.  We decided to get one of each and share.  Our server lined up the glasses on the counter and poured all four whites, and then all four reds so they could warm up and breath a bit before we had them.  We learned that our complaint about the wineries serving the whites too cold was not their fault, as they had to maintain a certain temperature in case of a food inspector’s visit.  Ah-ha. Speaking of food, Raphael does not allow outside food, and suggests you check out the “wide variety” of snacks they offer in their shop.  Their gift shop has a more extensive selection of items than many other places.

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  1. 2014 First Label Sauvignon Blanc            $39

85% sauvignon blanc and 15% Semillon grapes make this a very nice drink, tart but with good fruit; lemony as one would expect, but more like lemongrass than a strong lemon flavor.  The aroma has notes of minerals and toasted almonds.  Steel fermented, it would pair well with local oysters.

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Nice sized pour!

  1. 2014 First Label Riesling (Virgin Berry)    $39

So our first question was, what does “Virgin Berry” mean?  No, it’s not Sir Richard Branson’s latest venture.  It means that some of the grapes don’t happen to get fertilized, and these small seedless berries are hand harvested and used to make this Riesling. We end up having a long discussion about this wine, because it is quite tart for a Riesling, actually for any wine, and we wonder about food pairings.  I say corn chowder, and our server suggests roast pork with a sweet glaze, and my husband opts for lobster bisque.  The aroma is earthy, with some of that cat pee smell you expect, and also cut grass.

  1. 2014 First Label Chardonnay      $39

For an oaked chardonnay, this is pretty good.  The menu says it is aged 50/50 in French oak and new oak, which somewhat mellows the oakiness.  The aroma is vanilla and Werther’s butterscotch, the taste is quite buttery with a long finish, more like a California chard.  Our server suggests it would go with linguini with clam sauce, putting a bit of the wine in the sauce.  We also discuss that they no longer make Chardeaux, a chardonnay/sauvignon blanc blend we had liked.  That’s why you have to try each winery every year, we say, because things change.

  1. 2015 White Primo Reserve          $45

At first sip I’m not impressed, but as I warm the glass in my palms a lovely Granny Smith apple taste begins to bloom.  This is a blend of 31% sauvignon blanc, 20% Semillon, and 49% Riesling, fermented in both stainless steel and oak.  The aroma is sweet and flowery, the taste is tart, but an easier to take tart than the Riesling, very crisp.  Our server suggests that the cooler temperature is good for sipping, while the warmer is good to go with dinner.

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  1. 2012 Malbec Reserve     $69

The prices of the reds somewhat take our breath away (though they have less expensive wines on the other menu), and we get into a discussion of the economies of scale and the problems of pricing wines when you don’t make enough for a mass market.  In any event, our server suggests that all of the reds would benefit from a few years in the cellar, which would make them a better investment.  The aroma is of prune plums, and so is the taste, with some cherry as well.  It’s nicely dry, with plenty of tannins, which probably means it would age well. It would, we agree, go well with pork or lamb chops, both of which we saw at Eight Hands.  (We urge our server, as someone who appreciates good food, to pay them a visit.)

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The line-up of reds.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve     $69

The aroma is the expected blackberry, and also some wood.  I say it’s a nice aroma, while my husband says “fireplace logs.”  It’s good but a bit simple and a touch sour at the end and quite tannic.  “Chewy,” says our server, and we agree it could probably use a couple of years of aging.  It could certainly hold its own against a steak.

  1. 2012 Petit Verdot Reserve          $69

I discover that our server and I share a love of Petit Verdot, and he tells of the time he was able to taste the 2005, and how great it was.  2012 should be a good year, and if our cellar were not full we might have considered a bottle, despite the price.  The smell is lovely, with dark fruit and maybe some chocolate, and it tastes good.   We see some sediment at the bottom of the glass, and he notes that the wines are not filtered.  Again, the tannins are strong, and we agree it could use more time in the bottle.

  1. 2012 Primo Reserve       $72

Our favorite of the reds, this is a blend of 64% merlot, 17% Malbec, and 19% cabernet franc.  We smell wood and something vegetal—asparagus!  Dry, but not as tannic as the others, it has nice fruit tastes and a lovely finish.  You could drink this with boeuf bourguignon and be a happy camper.  If I came to sit, listen to music, and have a glass of wine this is what I’d choose.

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One view of the large circular bar.

Reasons to visit:  a beautiful tasting room that is reminiscent of an Italian villa or monastery; a gift shop with lots of items; the First Label Sauvignon Blanc, the White Primo Reserve, the Petit Verdot Reserve, the Primo Reserve; a great server (if he’s on duty when you go!).

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A touch of Italy

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Kontokosta Winery: Sounds Good to Me January 17, 2016

http://kontokostawinery.com/

Windows line the walls of the tasting room.

Windows line the walls of the tasting room.

It was time to revisit Kontokosta Winery, with its lovely location overlooking the Long Island Sound, and we found the perfect reason to go there.  We recently learned that old friends of ours had bought a house near Greenport, but, what with work on the house and not much time for other activities, had yet to visit a winery.  Well, we said, it is high time to remedy that situation, and they were happy to go with Nofowineaux to a winery so close to their house.

Proving that you can’t rely on last year’s review, a major change in the menu switched the Anemometer white and red from their least expensive wines to their priciest—and they weren’t even on the regular tasting menu, but needed a supplement of $5 each to taste.  So I can’t tell you if they’re worth it, but many of the other wines are.

Our server was proud to point out that they had won some gold medals.

Our server was proud to point out that they had won some gold medals.

The menu offers five whites for $15 or four reds for $15, so we opted to share one of each, and our friends chose to follow our lead.  Since it is a carefully metered one-ounce pour, that was fine.  They also have a menu of snacks and sweets and non-alcoholic drinks (called “Sound Bites,” a play on their location and their motto of “Sound Wines”), and forbid outside foods.

The tasting room is a high-ceilinged large space, with tables and a bar, where we opted to stand.  Considering it is January, we were impressed by how many people were there, but it was a three-day weekend.  Our server did a good job of keeping track of where we were in our tasting, and, as she saw our seriousness, began to give us more information on each wine.

A few gift items, including olive oil, are offered.

A few gift items, including olive oil, are offered.

  1. 2014 Orient Chardonnay              $22

Like many North Fork tastings, this one began with their steel-fermented chardonnay, which our friend compared to a “non-sweet Limoncello.”  Not a bad comparison, since this had plenty of lemon flavor and aroma, plus some nice minerality, and maybe even a salty tang.  Good.

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  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $25

As we sniffed the aroma of mango and citrus, one of our friends compared it to “Joe Malone perfume.”  Not being familiar, I can’t confirm or deny this, but the wine does have a lovely flowery scent.  The taste is equally pleasant, with good grapefruit and pineapple and other tropical fruits, plus mouth-watering acidity.  When we comment that this would be good with oysters, a discussion of North Fork oysters and where to get them ensues.  When the Old Mill Inn re-opens in the spring, we’ll have to meet there for their happy hour oysters.

  1. 2014 Viognier $25

Getting into the spirit of commenting on each wine, our friends describe the viognier as “more restrained and less dramatic” than the first two wines, and we agree.  The aroma is a bit sweet, with some mineral or rock and maybe a spice.  Cinnamon?  Nutmeg?  We can’t decide.  But this is another very drinkable wine, again on the tart, dry side, and would be good with creamy clam chowder.

  1. 2014 Field Blend $22

63% viognier and 37% sauvignon blanc.  Why?  Because they had that much of each left over last year, and only one vat in which to ferment them!  Nice to be able to drink your experiments, though we don’t like this as much as the previous wines.  It is quite light, and smells just like the viognier.

  1. 2014 Riesling $22

Dry!  Just .2% residual sugar, says our server, and we believe her.  It tastes more like a sauvignon blanc than their sauvignon blanc, very tart, with lots of acidity.  If you like a fruity somewhat sweet riesling, or even if you are thinking of a riesling to complement spicy food, this is not it.

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  1. 2008 Blum Merlot $19

A year ago we had the 07 Blum Merlot, and was told this was the last of it, but I guess they had one more year of these vines before Ray Blum’s vineyard was sold to Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines.  The aroma has lots of sweet cherry in it, and none of the barnyard which we detected in the 07.  Our friend thinks there’s a bit of a whiff of creosote, which is possibly from the French oak it was aged in.  It tastes less fruity than it smells, with some woody notes but no vanilla.  We get new glasses for the reds, by the way.

  1. 2013 Estate Merlot $34

We like this merlot much better, and all agree that we taste and smell lots of blackberry, plus minerals and flowers.  “Easy on the tongue,” opines our friend.  That may be the tannins, since the end taste is quite dry.  This one is aged in Hungarian oak, as are the rest of the reds.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

As our server pours this, she brings out another bottle and two fresh glasses and pours us another wine, the 2012 Cab Sauv (about which more in a moment).  Our friends are impressed with what I call the power of the book.  Often, when wineries see you are serious about the wine, they give you a little something extra.  Sometimes it is another taste of a wine not on the menu, or other times just some extra attention and more stories about the making of the wine.  I appreciate both.  We like this one, as it has lots of rich fruit flavors and aromas but is still pleasantly dry.

Our special extra taste!

Our special extra taste!

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

I should really label this 8A, since it is an “extra.”  Our server explains that she thinks we should try this, as there are only a few cases left, and she thinks it is really excellent.  She’s right.  It is similar to the ’13, but mellower and smoother and fruitier.  We buy a bottle.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $40

“Hmmm,” muses our friend, “I think I detect a note of Robitussin.”  Ha ha.  But it does taste of dark fruits, perhaps plums, again with some nice minerality and some promising tannins.  We get into a discussion of the meaning of “terroir,” and wonder if Kontokosta’s wines have more minerality than some others because of their location on the Sound, which we can see out of the windows.

Yes, that is the Long Island Sound in the background.

Yes, that is the Long Island Sound in the background.

Reasons to visit:  you are in or near Greenport and don’t want to travel too far; almost all of the wines, but especially the Orient Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Estate Merlot, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (but hurry before they sell out); the location on the Sound (maybe some time we’ll get there in the warm weather so we can stroll towards the water).

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The day was cold and grey, with the first snow of the season, but the welcome was warm.

The day was cold and grey, with the first snow of the season, but the welcome was warm.

Sannino Bella Vita: Small Place, Big List June 27, 2015

This used to be the Ackerly Pond Vineyard, and, though none of the wines are labeled Ackerly, the sign is still there.

This used to be the Ackerly Pond Vineyard, and, though none of the wines are labeled Ackerly, the sign is still there.

http://www.sanninovineyard.com/

The sign outside Sannino Bella Vita says no groups of over six without a reservation, and that’s a good idea, because this small venue really can’t handle a big influx, as we saw when a group with a Groupon and another group there for Anthony Sannino’s wine tour arrived at the same time.  However, the cheerful and hard-working tasting room staff did their best to compensate, and we were in no hurry anyway.  Our youthful server was new to the winery, and actually learned a few facts from us, but she was so charming we didn’t mind at all.

Anthony Sannino off to give a tour.

Anthony Sannino off to give a tour.

This is a great spot if you hope to interact with an owner, as Anthony Sannino is usually on site.  In addition, for a small winery they have an interesting range of choices, with a menu of eleven different wines to choose from for a tasting.  Since their standard tasting is six wines for $18, we decided to share two tastings, thus getting to sample all the wines (except one that is off the menu).  They generally set up all of your tastes on a tray, but with the influx of the groups they asked if we would mind getting our tastes one at a time, since they were worried they would run out of glasses!  No problem.  We also could have ordered a cheese and meat tray for $18.

One side of the room

One side of the room

We opted to sit on stools at the bar, but most other people sat outside on the side patio.  The room has, according to one of the servers, “a certain rustic charm,” and we agree.  There’s also a small selection of amusing wine-related gifts, and the Sanninos run a B and B next door to the winery.  They are just down the street from Greenport Harbor Brewery’s Peconic location, where mass quantities of people were flocking for a barbeque cook off.  We decided to give it a miss.

Some gift items

Some gift items

bella bib

  1. 2014 Chilly Day Chardonnay $18

There’s an interesting vegetable aroma which we note in several other of their wines.  Maybe asparagus?  Also a touch of baked pear, even though this is a steel-fermented chard.  The taste is a touch sweet for a steel chard, but ends with a tart lemony flavor.  Nice, and quite buyable.  We also note that the whites are served at a good temperature—not too cold.

  1. 2013 Off-Dry Riesling                    $17

“Bronze Medal in the FLI,” says the menu, which we later learn stands for Finger Lakes International.  We’re somewhat iffy on rieslings, but this one is quite nice, with green plum aromas and tastes, plus a touch of citrus.  It’s not too sweet, and would be a nice chilled summer sipper or an accompaniment to Thai food.

bella bottles

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $22

“I’d definitely have this with oysters,” I say.  Lots of not-overly-ripe pineapple taste, tart, lemon at end, with a touch of cabbage in the aroma.  Also worth buying, I think.

  1. 2014 Chardonnay $20

The menu says this is “fermented in steel and accented in oak,” and though at the moment there was no one to tell us exactly what this meant, we can figure it out, as this is an only lightly oaked chard.  We smell honey and almond butter, but the taste is dry and crisp.  If you find steel chards a bit too crisp and oaked chards too buttery, you’d probably like this one.

Pretty color

Pretty color

  1. Bianca White Merlot $16

This is a rosé, of course, so, as always, we compare it to Croteaux.  The color is a pretty dark pink, with sweet strawberry aromas with again a touch of that vegetable scent.  It’s good, though sweeter than Croteaux’s 314, and with less going on.

  1. 2014 Bianca Dolce $15

Our server confidently informs us that this is their sweetest wine, and notes that “people come in just for it.”  I get that.  This has a lighter color than the Bianca, and is quite sweet, almost enough to be a dessert wine.  However, it is light and not cloying. Might be nice over ice.

bella second

  1. 2nd Bottle Red $20

Why 2nd Bottle?  Because this is a wine you serve second, because “nobody cares by the second bottle.”  A non-vintage blend of varietals, this is a fine barbeque wine, with no depth and not a lot of fruit, but quite drinkable.  Something in the aroma reminds me of a black olive tapenade, like the one we sampled earlier in the day at Vines and Branches in Greenport.

  1. 2012 Merlot $25

Another FLI Bronze Medal winner, this 100% merlot spends 22 months in French and Hungarian oak.  We smell plums and a hint of smoke and taste cherry.  Neither sweet nor dry, this is a passable merlot, though my husband says he “would not go out of my way for it.”

  1. 2012 Prima Rossa $34

50% cabernet sauvignon, 33% cabernet franc, 17% merlot, we inform our eager-to-learn server, means this is a Left Bank Bordeaux-type blend.  It’s also quite good, with aromas of coffee, cigars, and grape juice and lots of dark fruit tastes.  This one is also aged for 22 months in French and Hungarian oak.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $34

Ooh, this wine won a Silver Medal in the FLI.  The menu describes it as “elegant.”  Well, there is something restrained about it.  Quite dry, with a bit of a woody aroma, it would be okay with lamb, but we liked the Prima Rossa much better.

Our favorite of the reds

Our favorite of the reds

  1. 2012 Spotlight Petit Verdot $42

We opt to get two tastes of this one, to complete our twelve, and decide that was a good choice, as we like this the best of the reds.  A blend of 85% petit verdot and 15% cabernet sauvignon, aged 22 months in French and Hungarian oak, this wine has lots of dark fruit aromas with just a touch of smoke, and tastes very good.  Lots of fruit, maybe some jam—I could see this with the Crescent Farm duck breasts I served with a strawberry-rhubarb sauce last week.  It certainly merited its Silver Medal in the FLI.

This serious-looking canine statue stands guard over the parking lot.

This serious-looking canine statue stands guard over the parking lot.

Reasons to visit:  you like an intimate setting, with the chance to chat with an owner (if he’s not giving a tour—or you could sign up for the tour!); the Chilly Day Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Prima Rossa, the Spotlight Petit Verdot; a cute selection of gifts.

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The vines are in full leaf now.

The vines are in full leaf now.

Kontokosta Winery: Simply Good March 28, 2015

http://kontokostawinery.com/

kont building

Kontakosta’s motto—“Sound Life.  Sound Wine.”—is a nice play on words, since they are situated on a high bluff overlooking Long Island Sound and they also follow ecologically sensitive practices—such as generating their electricity through the use of a windmill.  The wine is, in general, quite nice.  We also speculated whether some of the briny, mineral tastes in the wines might come from their waterfront location.

One side of the tasting room

One side of the tasting room

The tasting room is a beautifully spare space, all white and black, with large windows looking out over the vineyards.  There’s a bar at one end and long tables for those who prefer to sit, plus an upper balcony.  Our group of four opted for the bar, where we found very informative and engaging servers.  The tasting menu offers two flights, one of five whites for $14 and another of five reds, also $14.  We decided that each couple would do one of each, sharing as we went.  We also shared a cheese tray, which consisted of a very generous and tasty block of Toussaint raw cow milk cheese and a sleeve of crackers for $12.

Looking up to the balcony

Looking up to the balcony

We started with the whites.

  1. NV Anemometer White                              $16

This is their table white, made from sauvignon blanc grapes from various vintages.  Our friend said it smelled like a lemon bar, which was quite accurate.  We also detected some vegetable aromas and some minerality.  The taste was also somewhat lemony and mineral, tart but not terribly crisp.  We all agreed it would go well with oysters.  (The name anemometer, by the way, refers to a device that measures wind speed, an indirect homage to their windmill.)

The Anemometer White

The Anemometer White

  1. 2013 Orient Chardonnay $22

Before we could ask, our server volunteered the information that it is called Orient because the grapes come from Sargon Vineyard, out in Orient.  A steel-fermented chard, this has typical honeysuckle and orange aromas and some gooseberry flavor.  My husband found it too mineral, with some wet rock flavors (whatever that tastes like), but the rest of us liked it.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $25

“This is made in the Sancerre style,” volunteered our server, “And it won a gold medal!”  We sniff and agree:  pineapple and mango on the nose and in the mouth.  Nice, though a bit sweet, but it goes well with the cheese.

We took home about a third of the cheese

We took home about a third of the cheese

  1. 2013 Viognier $25

“This is my favorite wine to go with that cheese,” enthuses our server, and we agree with her wholeheartedly.  The aroma reminds me of these wonderful cantaloupe-type melons called Hand Melons we used to get upstate, and the wine also has some cantaloupe tastes.

  1. 2012 Viognier

Observing how serious we are about our tasting, our server pours us each an extra taste, of the 2012 Viognier, which is almost sold out, and which she says is her favorite of the whites.  Interestingly, this has a sweeter aroma and taste than the 2013, though still lots of cantaloupe, with more floral notes.  It’s a more challenging wine, observes my husband.

  1. 2013 Dry Riesling $22

This has only .06% sugar, we are told, which means it is most definitely a dry riesling.  They used to have an off-dry riesling for those who come in and request “the sweetest white you have,” but they no longer make it.  This is definitely a dry riesling, with a touch of that cat pee smell (an observation which causes some hilarity among our cat-owning friends) and a simple but pleasant taste.  Delicate, notes our friend.

kont bottle

  1. Anemometer Red Table Wine $16

Now we move on to the reds, for which we are given new glasses.  This is a blend of 60% cabernet franc and 30% cabernet sauvignon, from various vintages.  We discuss the varying implications of saying an inexpensive table wine vs. a cheap red, and decide this belongs in the former category—especially when we learn they are running a special of 50% off for a case of the red and the white Anemometers.  Our noses detect a hint of ripe olives and “wet laundry,” says my husband, as well as some fruit.  The wine itself is light but “very acceptable,” with lots of nice fruit flavor.  We decide to get a case of eight reds and four whites.

  1. 2007 Blum Merlot $19

Ray Blum had a vineyard in Southold planted in merlot vines, which has since been bought by Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines, so this is the last anyone will have of the Blum Merlot.  It’s a fine, fairly typical North Fork merlot, with a touch of barnyard odor and black cherry taste.  Very nice.

  1. 2010 Estate Merlot $34

Yum.  Aged six months in French oak and six months in steel, this is a really good merlot, with lots of black cherry taste plus a touch of vanilla.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

This one is aged in Hungarian oak.  What’s the difference?  Hungarian oak is cheaper, gives a milder flavor, and is more tightly grained so there’s less evaporation (the “angel’s share”).  This is also yum!  Brambly aroma, lots of layers of flavor, including blackberry.  This is one that could be saved for future drinking.  “Or buy two,” suggests our server, “and drink one now and save the other for later.”

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $40

Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco Wine Challenge competition, we are told.  Hmmm.  This is a dry red, with aromas of pepper and nutmeg and mixed berry tastes.  “It has no gravitas,” opines my tasting buddy.

The bar

The bar

Reasons to go:  Beautiful tasting room overlooking the Sound, which you can walk to in good weather; knowledgeable servers; the Anemometer wines if you need to buy some decent table wines for everyday drinking; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Viognier, the Estate Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon.  They also sell olive oil—not made locally!  However, we are headed to Greenport to check out Vines and Branches’ new digs, so we decline to try the olive oil.

They have a small selection of gift items.

They have a small selection of gift items.

kont doors

kont mist

The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

The room is reflected in the sign about their excellent sale.

One Woman Winery August 5, 2013

http://www.onewomanwines.com/

Apparently, one woman is all it takes to make some terrific wines; at least, if that one woman is Claudia Purita, the woman behind One Woman Wines.  As her daughter proudly told us on a previous visit, Ms. Purita tends the vines by hand, picks the grapes, and makes the wine. The results are a pleasure to drink.  Oh, and she even picks and arranges the gorgeous bouquets of wildflowers that grace the tasting room.

Flowers in the tasting room

Flowers in the tasting room

We came to the winery this time on a breezy sunny Monday afternoon, when, until two other parties arrived, we were the only people in the tiny tasting room and on the only slightly larger deck area, where we drank our wines.  If you are in a party larger than six or in a limo, you’d better have a reservation!  The pleasant young women behind the bar were cheery and helpful, and guided us as we decided on what to pick from the menu of nine wines.  Tastings are $6 for two tastes, $8 for three, or $10 for four, plus there are three reserve wines one can try for $4 for one or $12 for all three.  Since there were four adults, we decided to share two tastings of four choices each, plus some reserves, while the two-year-old distraction ran races on the lawn. Because we were going back and forth between two tastings, the wines might not be in the absolute perfect tasting order.

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  1.  2011 One Woman Tribute                           $23

Created to mark Ms. Purita’s five-year anniversary as a winemaker, this is a blend of all their whites.  As a result, it has an unsurprisingly complicated aroma with peach and minerality dominating followed by a delicious taste that combines apricots (my favorite fruit) with a long citrusy finish.  Dry yet fruity, this is a wine one could happily sip by itself or pair with almost any food.   

2. 2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $25

Another goodie!  This one has a spicy aroma and flavor, with lots of lemon.  It would be great with oysters.  Very buyable.

3. 2011 Grüner Veltliner                                    $20

Hmmm…what’s that smell?  Eucalyptus!  This wine also has plenty of fruit, with a nice tartness that makes us think of gooseberries.  This is good, but…

4. 2012 Grüner Veltliner                                   $20

…the 2012 is even better.  Despite a slightly musty aroma under the eucalyptus, this is delicious, with a surprisingly sweet ending and a bit of a bubbly feeling on the tongue.  As this is the only Grüner on the North Fork, it is worth coming here just to taste it.

5. 2011 Gewürztraminer                                   $23

We smell pineapple and mango, then find the taste surprisingly dry, though with lots of tropical fruit.  This one is rather delicate, so you’d want to pair it with a dish that wouldn’t be overwhelmed by it.  Maybe scallops?

6. 2012 Gewürztraminer                                    $23

As the servers noted, the 2012s are more flavorful than the 2011s, and that holds true for both the Gewürztraminer and the Grüner.  Aromas and tastes of pineapple, and also spice and honey make this our favorite of the day, and we buy some to take home, thinking of Peconic Bay scallops on the barbecue.

7. 2012 Chardonnay                                             $20

This is our least favorite of the day, a half oaked, half steel fermented chard with some vanilla and pine sap aromas and some oak and tropical fruit flavors.

The deck

The deck

8. 2012 Rosé                                                            $19

We get the usual notes of strawberry, with perhaps, as they say, some pomegranate.  This is a dry, merlot-based rosé, with some earthiness and funkiness, though ultimately it is refreshing.

9. 2008 Estate Reserve Merlot                                        $48

Lots of aromas to this wine, including wet forest and cinnamon. We taste spice and dark fruit, and all agree that it is an excellent merlot with all sorts of interesting flavors.  This is part of the Reserve tasting, as are the next two.

10. 2010 Estate Reserve Chardonnay                              $38

Again, not a favorite.  It has that cat pee smell some wines seem to get, and is too oaky for our taste, with lots of butterscotch.

11.  2010 Dessert Wine                                                          $39

Smells like the Gewürztraminer.  It is sweet, but not just sweet, with some nice structure.

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If you are counting, you will realize we skipped one wine—the sparkling wine.  Perhaps next time we’ll try that.  Meanwhile we buy the Gewürztraminer and the Sauvignon Blanc, and as a result the tastings of the standard wines, but not the reserves, are free.  We also almost bought some gelato on sale in the tasting room, before we remembered that we had a Briermere pie for dessert.  Gelato?  Not surprising when you know that her husband owns D’Latte in Greenport.   Later that night we have Peconic Bay scallops, barbecued on skewers with plum tomatoes and zucchini, along with roasted new potatoes and corn and sautéed zucchini, and the Gewürztraminer goes perfectly with it all.

Reasons to visit:  you would like to drink some excellent white wines; you like peace and quiet among the vines (though they do have some evening events which might be livelier); you want to try Grüner Veltliner on Long Island; you like a nice dry Gewürztraminer; the Sauvignon Blanc.

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Kontokosta Winery June 23, 2013

http://www.kontokostawines.com/

Kontokosta building

One great aspect of choosing to write about North Fork wineries for a blog is that there is not much risk of running out of material.  Not only do wineries change their offerings with each new harvest—necessitating return visits—but new wineries are constantly springing up.  Case in point, as Rod Serling liked to say, Kontokosta Winery in Greenport, which opened its very attractive doors on June 12th.  As you head east towards Orient Point on Sound Avenue you pass a flashing light, where you could turn to head into Greenport.  Instead, stay straight and you’ll come to a gate on your left, which leads to a long gravel drive and then to a parking lot next to a large imposing building, bracketed by vines, a view of Long Island Sound, and a tall windmill, about which more later.Kontokosta insideKontokosta interior

Inside, the spacious tasting room is sleekly modern in style, with a serene black and white color scheme. We note several tables where a happy party is taking photos of themselves and a long tasting bar.  We find a space at the bar, where a lovely young woman explains the choices to us.  All the servers are clad in black shirts with the Kontokostas logo on the chest, a discreet three red bars.  One of the servers is a gentleman we recognize from several other venues, including the Tasting Room and Empire Cellars, and he assures us we are about to experience some terrific wines.  A tasting consists of four one ounce pours for $10, chosen from a menu of ten wines, five white and five red.  There’s also a three-pour tasting and wines by the glass.   We opt for two four-wine flights, one of white and then one of red, both of which we share, skipping the rosé and the Blum Merlot.

Kontokosta white

  1.  NV Anemometer White                                              $16

Why Anemometer, we ask, noticing the representation of a spinning anemometer on the bottle?  The winery is very proud of its use of wind power, our server notes, and in fact everything on the property is powered by wind.  Our friend from other venues notes that on a very windy day you can see the electric meter spin backward, so that LIPA ends up owing them money.  On to the wine, which is a blend, though primarily sauvignon blanc.  Refreshing, we agree, with an aroma of Meyer lemon and mineral, with tastes of citrus and honeysuckle at the end.  This would be good for summer sipping, and also would go well with turkey dishes.  Very buyable!

2.  2009 Orient Chardonnay                               $17

The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard in Orient, hence the name.  A lightly oaked chard, this is just okay, and a bit sour.  There’s plenty of orangey-lemon tastes, and some oak at the end, but we don’t find it particularly pleasant.

3.  2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $25

Not surprisingly, we find this wine reminds us of the Anemometer White, though with some different tastes.  Overall it is a bit sweet for us, with aromas of honeysuckle and green plum and tastes of wildflower honey with a vegetal note at the end.  My husband says green beans…not sure I agree.  This is the first wine they made here.

4.  2010 Viognier                                    $25

Bedell is the only other North Fork winery to use this grape, so we are interested to see how it compares.  At Bedell we had their 2011 Viognier, which we found very pleasing, with complex spicy fruit and citrus flavors.  This one has aromas of blood orange and peach, with peachy tastes and some tannins, but not so complex.

Kontokosta red

5.  Anemometer Red 2006                 $19

I would expect this to be a blend, but it is 100% syrah, we are told.  The aroma has some of that East End barnyard smell, plus red berry, and the taste reminds us of red sucking candy.  While not for sipping, this would be okay with food, such as pork chops.

6.  2010 Cabernet Sauvignon            $22

We smell ripe berries and plums, and not much earth, and taste lots of fruit, with a nice dry finish.  I’d love this with a nice medium-rare duck breast, and it could stand up to steak as well.

7.  2007 Merlot                                       $29

Again we smell that earthy barnyard aroma, plus some mineral.  This is just okay—dry, with decent fruit, but a bit of a chemical acetone taste at the end.  You could have this with a rich pork dish and it would be fine, but it is overpriced for what it is.

8.  2007 Cabernet Franc                       $29

“This is one of my favorites,” enthuses our server, and we can see why, as it is definitely the best of the reds, with lots of fruit and a lovely aroma of ripe berries, not too sweet but not too dry, either.  Oh, she adds, all the reds are aged in new French oak.

After we finish the wines, we are offered tastes of three olive oils they are selling—all for $28—an extra virgin, a Minneola tangelo and a jalapeῆo lime.  They’re nice, but we’ll stick with Vines and Branches.  We also learn that the winery is proud of its use of recycled materials in its construction, which is partly reflected in their slogan, “Sound Life, Sound Wine,” or as they say on their FaceBook page, “Registered with the USGBC under the LEED New Construction 2009 rating system, our winery has been designed to meet the gold certification level. To meet these high standards, the building is constructed of 100% recycled steel and reclaimed wood siding, and will be powered by wind energy.”

The windmill!

The windmill!

We enjoy the view out the large window to the Long Island Sound on this lovely June day as we wrap up our visit with the purchase of a bottle of the Anemometer White.

Kontokosta view

Reasons to visit:  You’re in Greenport without a car and you’d like to go to a winery; you’ve tried all the others and are looking for a new winery; Anemometer White and 07 Cabernet Franc; the chance to appreciate a lovely view while doing a tasting; you’re on your way to the Hellenic and have some time to kill before dinner.