Twin Stills Moonshine: Also Très Petite December 29, 2019

IMG_7388

https://www.liooldtymer.com/

IMG_7389

The tasting room is even cozier than the outside suggests.

This is the smallest so far of our line-up of small tasting rooms, though I think One Woman’s room is even smaller. There’s barely room for a short bar with about six stools, and not much else, though in good weather there is additional seating outside, on the porch and in the front yard of what was once evidently a house. Previously, it had been a little deli, on Sound Avenue.

From the name, you can probably deduce that this is not a winery. In fact, it is a distillery, and the name moonshine refers to the source of its alcohol—corn! They make a clear liquor called Moonshine, plus a variety of flavored liqueurs which can be used as after-dinner sippers or combined into cocktails, a number of which they will make for you on the premises. In fact, when we arrived, we found a couple enjoying cocktails and a chat with the lively and friendly server. The server slipped a copy of their cocktail recipes into the bag with the bottle of coffee liqueur we bought.

IMG_7395

The tasting cup. It is small, but our server filled it to the brim.

Each taste comes in a tiny earthenware cup, a reflection of the owners’ Portuguese heritage, for $3. A standard flight is three for $9, but one can try as many as one likes, though given the high proof, three is probably plenty. We were sharing sips, so we tried four. They also have three or four local beers on tap, I guess in case a group includes someone who doesn’t want hard liquor.

In addition to their own product, the tasting room has a small selection of local products and t-shirts with their logo. We also noted a sampler box of four small bottles of their flavored drinks. A 375 ml. bottle costs $22.

IMG_7402

This is the basic product, on which all the flavors are based.

  1. Moonshine

We decided to start with their unflavored product, a 100-proof corn liquor. I immediately detected a slightly yeasty aroma and a smooth, almost caramel flavor. Did I taste roasted corn? Yes, indeed. It is surprisingly easy to drink, given its high alcohol content, but it is not something I’d choose to sip neat. Our server noted that many people will buy the unflavored version to take home and make their own liqueurs, which they sometimes bring in and urge her to taste, a favor she declines.

IMG_7396

  1. Maple Pecan 60 proof

Many of their products are made with local ingredients, we were told, but the maple syrup for this comes from upstate. My tasting pal immediately dubbed this “dangerously drinkable,” and our server noted that some people will put it on their breakfast pancakes. That’ll get your day off to a fun start. She also said some people will add it to coffee, and agreed with us that it would go well on vanilla or butter pecan ice cream, for a very adult ice cream sundae. I mostly tasted the maple, not much of the pecan.

IMG_7392

Some suggested recipes. We were told the apple pie flavor is very popular.

  1. Coffee 80 proof

As a fan of Kahlua, I was interested to try the coffee. Made from espresso beans (which are not grown on the North Fork, but, we theorized, could have been roasted here), this tastes like coffee with a kick. I could see making a Black Russian with this (a drink I used to really like, until one time I had one too many…).

IMG_7399

  1. Honey 80 proof

When I have a bad cold, with a sore throat, I like to make myself a hot toddy. This would be perfect in one, or just poured into a nice hot cup of tea. It is also an interesting way to sweeten iced tea, which, with a twist of lemon, is one of their suggested cocktails. It is quite smooth, and definitely tastes like honey, with a trace of that roasted corn flavor. She wasn’t sure whose honey went into it, but I noted bottles of Miss Molly’s honey, made in Riverhead, on the shelf.

Reasons to visit: you’re ready for something a little different; you like liqueurs; you want to try some moonshine; the cocktails; the coffee flavor. I wouldn’t recommend this with a group, except in warm weather, when you could sit outside.

IMG_7404

There’s room on the porch in warm weather.

IMG_7391

Winemaker Studio: Nappa, not Napa December 15, 2019

http://winemaker-studio.com/

IMG_7333

Note the wine geeks sign, pointing to the entrance to Peconic Cellar Door, which we are also due to visit.

Anthony Nappa may have the perfect name for a winemaker, but I do wonder how often he has to explain that his name is not a reference to the famous wine region in California. In actuality, he is both the winemaker for Raphael Vineyards and for his own label, which he sells in the Winemaker Studio, a small tasting room which adjoins Peconic Cellar Door, another small label, in a shopfront adjacent to the LIRR train tracks on Peconic Lane. Like several other winemakers, he seems to enjoy making his own wines, even though his “day job” is making wine.

IMG_7342

Maybe some day he’ll add some comfortable seating!

According to our very knowledgeable and informative server, Nappa buys his grapes from several different vineyards, including Raphael. This year he is offering several wines made from organically grown grapes, but may not in the future, since the grower has decided to make his own wines. We were just at Raphael on December 7th, so it was interesting to compare the two places. We decided that we much prefer the styles of the wines Nappa offers under his own label. But, as we discussed with our server, taste in wine is a very personal thing, so my preferences clearly are not those of other people.

IMG_7336

Shared Table Farm belongs to Anthony and Sarah Nappa, who have added kimchi, honey, and jam to their wine offerings.

Our visit this year proves yet again that it is a good idea to try each year’s vintage, since wines can be quite different from harvest to harvest. This is particularly true here, since Nappa clearly likes to experiment and try varying combinations. For example, his sparkling wine, labeled Frizzante, is quite different from previous years.

A tasting consists of any five wines from a menu of twelve for $15. We consulted with our server over our choices and, power of the book, got two extra wines for an intriguing side-by-side comparison of different vintages. That turned out to be a good move, as we bought a bottle of one of the extras!

  1. NV Frizzante $20

The last time, several years ago, that we tried Nappa’s sparkling wine, it was made from pinot noir, riesling, and gewürztraminer and was a rather conventional yellow color. This time it is composed of 51% pinot noir and 49% viognier, and is an orange wine with a pleasant fizz. The aroma is somewhat vegetal—Brussels sprouts, maybe?—and yeasty. The taste is pleasantly dry, with a touch of fruitiness. I don’t know if the color is influencing my thoughts, but I think it tastes a bit like oranges, maybe kumquats. At this price, one could drink it as an everyday wine, and I think it would go well with charcuterie. (NV means non-vintage.)

IMG_7340

The sauvignon blanc is light in both color and taste.

  1. 2018 Sauvignon Blanc $22

This wine uses sauvignon blanc grapes from Raphael for 88%, and 12% semillon from another vineyard. The aroma is somewhat floral, unlike the Raphael sauvignon blanc, which was citrusy. This does have a tart, lemon/lime flavor, similar to Raphael’s, but is lighter in both color and flavor. It would be better with food, like a nice dish of local oysters or scallops. Alas, the scallop harvest this year is dreadful, as there was a die-off earlier in the season, when the water was too warm. Darn global climate change.

IMG_7341

  1. 2018 La Strega               $29

Made from organic malbec grapes, this is called the witch because malbec is notoriously difficult to deal with here. Aged mostly in steel, and only six months in French oak, this is a very light red, with fruity aromas of currents and blueberries. No tannins. When our server asks, I say I would characterize this as a red wine for white wine drinkers, and he concurs, noting that he had actually bought a bottle for someone who usually only drinks whites and she had liked it.

IMG_7343

  1. 2014 Quattordici Cabernet-Merlot $35

A blend of 63% merlot, 12% cabernet franc, and 25% cabernet sauvignon, this Bordeaux-style wine is quite lovely. I smell cherries, black licorice, and fruit salad, and taste black raspberries and maybe a touch of black olives. My tasting buddy disputes that last assertion, but adds that it has a “lotta fruit.” We agree on that. It has a surprisingly long finish. I could see this with a nice slice of rare leg of lamb.

IMG_7346

I feel like I learn so much about wine when we do one of these parallel tastings.

  1. 2012 Merlot $48

Now comes the treat! Because he happens to have a bottle of the 2012 merlot open for wine club members, with one of whom we have been having a pleasant chat, our server asks if we would like to taste the three different vintages of merlot they have on offer. Of course we would! They are encouraging the wine club members to drink this wine now, and I can see why. It still has the merlot cherry aroma and taste, but the taste has become more minerally, with few tannins. No finish. It’s fine—and we like it better than any of the Raphael $72 bottles of red—but definitely is at the end of its life.

  1. 2014 Merlot $40

In 2014, they got their merlot grapes from Shinn, unlike the other two vintages. This is also dry, with more tannins, and an aroma of cherries and olives.  It does have a mouth-watering acidity, and could go well with barbequed pork chops.

IMG_7338

This window allows easy communication with the next-door tasting room, which included some friendly banter.

  1. 2015 Reserve Merlot $40

This one “beats the bunch,” as my grandma would say with the birth of each new great-grandchild. It has an interesting complexity of flavor, and the type of tannins that makes us think it would do well after a couple of years.  Of course, it has cherry flavors and aromas, but there is more to it that just cherry, more depth. We decide to buy a bottle and put it in the cellar for a couple of years, “we should live so long,” as my grandma would also say.

IMG_7337

Reasons to visit: intimate setting where you can discuss and savor the wines at leisure with a well-informed server (he remembered we had been there before); well-priced wines; the Frizzante for casual sparkling wine drinking; the Quattordici, the 2015 Reserve Merlot. Note that they used to be connected to a store which sold cheeses, etc., but it is now another tasting room, the Peconic Cellar Door. Next time we’ll try the rosés and the other reds.  They also have for sale honey, jam, and kimchi made at their Shared Table Farm.

IMG_7348

We bought a jar of their kimchi, which turned out to be quite excellent.

Coffee Pot Cellars: Consider Yourself at Home November 3, 2019

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

IMG_7248

Why a huge mural of a monarch butterfly? Read the review and find out!

The name may seem a bit misleading—it refers to the nickname of the Orient Point lighthouse—but the building in which this winery is housed is totally appropriate. It is a house, and you will feel as though you are a guest in Laura Klahr’s living room as soon as you enter the intimate, yellow-walled space.

IMG_7239

If you’ve ever been there before, she is likely to recognize you (even if you are not, as she and her husband, winemaker Adam Suprenant, figured out, a wine blogger like me). And even if you are visiting for the first time, you will get a warm welcome and soon feel at home, as you learn about Laura’s bee hives and Blossom Meadow farm, the delicious wines, and Beasley, the resident red-wine loving pug.  Beasley, by the way, has recently been joined by Molly, a chardonnay-sipping goldfish. (Never fear, the pets’ wine preferences are part of Laura’s quirky sense of humor.)

IMG_7234

That’s the wine-o-saur.

Out on the front lawn is the wine-o-saur, a dinosaur of wire “fleshed out” with wine corks, many of them contributed and decorated by fans of Coffee Pot. Laura promises to finish it, now that jam-making season is over. She also called our attention to a wall hanging made by her mother, which illustrates, using colored yarn, the daily temperatures in 2015. Other wall décor calls attention to the Merlot for Monarchs campaign, which teams up with the Girl Scouts and others to plant milkweed every time a bottle of merlot is bought—1,821 so far—which helps support the endangered monarch butterflies. We bought a bottle of the merlot, but not just because of the campaign. It’s good!

IMG_7237

As we were discussing with Laura the phenomenon of people who are winemakers for large wineries—Adam is the winemaker for Osprey’s Dominion, whose wines we also like, and of which he is also proud—also having their own label, Adam entered, bearing what I bet was a lunch for his wife. He agreed that it is interesting, and they both talked about the benefit of having the freedom to do what you like. (There are other winemakers on the East End who do the same, like Anthony Nappa, who has his own label in the Winemaker’s Studio and is also the winemaker for Raphael, and Roman Roth, who makes the Grapes of Roth as well as Wölffer Estate wines.) For both their jams and their wines, Laura and Adam like to be “true to the fruit.”

A complete tasting consists of all six wines for $12, so we opted to share one tasting.

IMG_7240

  1. 2017 Sauvignon Blanc $21.99

Laura explained that this is aged in steel barrels, rather than vats, which gives it a more concentrated flavor. When I opined that it was “zippy,” she smiled and said that was a word Adam would never use, but she liked it. This has a floral aroma, of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass, and tastes lemony, with, as she noted, more depth of flavor than your typical sauvignon blanc. We buy a bottle.

IMG_7241

  1. 2015 Chardonnay $19.99

I wondered whether I would like this, since it is oaked, but after Laura explained that it is aged in fourteen-year-old oak for just six months, I was ready to taste it. She characterized it as their fall/winter chard, and I can see why. It has more body than a steel chard, but is not heavy or oaky or buttery. I taste wood and honey and citrus. They get most of their grapes, by the way, from a vineyard in Jamesport, plus some from other vineyards.

IMG_7242

  1. 2014 Gewürztraminer $21.99

Gewürztraminer is a wine that becomes rather popular in November, since many people like it as an accompaniment to turkey. I can see that. This is a blend of gewürztraminer plus 12% riesling, steel fermented, and nicely fruity. My tasting buddy says it is sweet, but I disagree. What he sees as sweet I see as tropical fruit flavors. In fact, it even smells like lychee fruit. I also get pineapple and a touch of nutmeg.

IMG_7243

  1. 2013 Merlot $21.99

This is their newest release, and Laura proudly informs us that it just got 91 points and an Editor’s Choice award from Wine Enthusiast. I don’t give scores (as a retired English teacher, I am DONE giving grades), but I can see why this was highly rated. It has the cherry aroma and taste I have come to expect from North Fork merlots, but also more depth of flavor than many, with a touch of smokiness that is just enough to add interest. We buy a bottle, and not just to support the monarch butterflies. It’s delicious.

IMG_7244

  1. 2015 Beasley’s Blend $23.99

Beasley is featured on the label of this blend of 60% cabernet franc and 40% merlot, and he certainly has good taste. This has aromas of dark fruit and tobacco, with tastes of black raspberry and dark chocolate, plus enough tannins that I think it could age well. By this time Adam has joined us, and he agrees.

IMG_7245

  1. 2014 Meritage $27.99

Adam tells us that he calls 2014 the “immaculate summer,” in that the weather was perfect for grape-growing, with cool nights and warm sunny days, and just the right amount of rain. Viticulture is, of course, farming, though those of us who just deal with the finished product don’t often think about that. (In fact, I think that might be the first time I’ve ever written that word!) He’s justly pleased with the way this blend has turned out, and we agree that it could also age well. We buy a bottle of this and label it to wait a couple of years in the cellar. He also discusses the use of petit verdot in this blend of 56% merlot, 23% petit verdot, 14% cabernet franc, and 7% cabernet sauvignon. It adds dark color and some blueberry flavor, he notes. This is another yummy wine, with aromas and flavors of dark fruits, like blackberries, plus cocoa and spice.

Reasons to visit: intimate atmosphere for tasting, with personal attention; Laura; all six wines, but especially the sauvignon blanc, the merlot (save the monarchs!), and the Meritage; Beasley, the official greeter and employee of the month; jam and honey and other bee-related products for sale. Laura also described to us the fun of a honey tasting, where you put out several varieties of honey and taste the differences amongst them, since honey gets its flavor from the flowers the bees visit. I do have one suggestion: perhaps at some point in the future they could replace the bar stools with more comfortable seating options.

IMG_7238

Coffee Pot Cellars: Puppy Love December 1, 2018

Coffee Pot Cellars: Puppy Love   December 1, 2018

c sign

What you can’t quite see is the “winasaur” made from used corks.

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

As you enter Coffee Pot Cellars’ cozy tasting room, you will be greeted by Beasley, Laura Klahre’s adorable, friendly, and tiny black pug dog.  The day we went, Beasley was sporting a set of monarch butterfly wings, to help promote their merlot to monarch campaign.  For every bottle of merlot they sell, they will, with the cooperation of the Girl Scouts of America, plant a milkweed seed.  Milkweed, though deemed a weed by most people, is crucial for the survival of the monarch butterfly, whose caterpillars will only feed on it in their early lives.  So of course before we left we had to buy a couple of bottles of merlot, bringing the running tally on the blackboard to 731 bottles sold.

Laura, who is also a beekeeper and lover of nature, was pleased.  She and her husband Adam Suprenant own Coffee Pot Cellars, a tiny winery named for the distinctive lighthouse out near Orient Point.  She also runs Blossom Meadow Farm, where she not only makes honey, but also makes various beeswax products, such as candles, and promotes the usefulness to pollination of carpenter bees.  If you would like to host some carpenter bees on your property, you can buy bee houses for them from Laura.  We bought a little jar of her newest product, a raspberry jam.

In addition to a line-up of very good wines, Coffee Pot has an asset in the person of Laura, who is friendly and talkative, full of stories about bees and wine and Beasley.  If you happen to go there the weekend of December 8-9, you will be in time for the celebration of Beasley’s twelfth birthday, which will be marked by the release of their 2015 Beasley’s Blend—of which we had a preview.  And if you have ever been there before, Laura will remember you and greet you like an old friend.

The menu features six tastes for $12, but as long as they still have the Cyser (about which more in a moment), Laura will pour you seven tastes, so you don’t have to make any decisions.

IMG_5919

The Cyser is a sparkling hard cider made with honey, and it’s quite yummy.

  1. Cyser                    $19.99

Hard cider is made with sugar, and is often too sweet for me.  Mead is made with fermented honey, and can be sweet as well, but this cyser is hard cider made with Blossom Meadow honey, and the Coffee Pot version is delicious—dry and sparkling, made with the méthode champenoise, hand disgorged by Adam.  Laura informed us and another couple at the bar that it was made with 50% Liberty apples, 25% Black Twig, 10% Granny Smith, and 15% Crisp Golden, all from the local Breeze Hill Farm.  It tastes like a slightly apple-flavored champagne, and would be lovely with charcuterie.

IMG_5920

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc   $21.99

We already miss summer, so perhaps that’s why we envisioned sipping this wine with a summery salad dinner, perhaps salade niçoise.  It is fruitier than many North Fork sauvignon blancs, with an aroma of minerals and honeysuckle.  Good.

IMG_5921

Though the chardonnay is oaked, it is so lightly done so that I like it.

  1. 2014 Chardonnay    $19.99

As she rinses our glass with a bit of the next taste, Laura informs us that this wine was fermented in thirteen-year-old oak barrels.  I’m happy, because I don’t generally care for oaked chardonnays, but when they are fermented in old—called neutral—oak, the taste is different from a steel-fermented chard, but not buttery.  There is s slight taste of the oak, but I mostly taste and smell apples and tropical fruits, with some nice acidity.  It would go well with fish tacos, which I am making for dinner tonight with locally caught cod.

IMG_5922

  1. 2014 Gewürztraminer   $21.99

Although this is just called gewürztraminer, it is also 12% riesling.  The aroma is quite flowery.  I taste lychees and pineapple, but it is a bit too sweet for me.  However, it would go well with spicy food.

IMG_5924

If you buy a bottle of merlot, you will also be helping the monarch butterflies!

  1. 2012 Merlot    $19.99

Now we get a new glass for the reds.  The famous merlot-for-monarchs merlot is aged eighteen months in French oak, and we smell cherries and spice and smoke.  It’s a light, dry red, a Friday-night-hamburger wine, suggests Laura.  We agree, liking the hint of spiciness which balances the cherry taste.

IMG_5926

Note the portrait of Beasley, standing guard on the lighthouse. Watch out, he might lick you to death!

  1. 2015 Beasley’s Blend    $23.99

All the labels show the Coffee Pot lighthouse, but this one also shows Beasley standing guard on the upper level of the lighthouse. Though it will be officially released next weekend for Beasley’s birthday, Laura gave us a preview taste.  It’s a blend of 60% cabernet franc and 40% merlot, and we can smell the cherry of the merlot when we take a whiff.  We taste dark fruit—cherries, plums—and nutmeg.  A soft, dry red with nice tannins, this would be drinkable on its own.  Good work, Beasley!

  1. 2014 Meritage    $27.99

Another blend, this one is  a Bordeaux-style 56% merlot, 23% petit verdot, 14% cabernet franc, and 7% cabernet sauvignon, and it’s also really good, though given the tannins I think it would be better in a few years.  It is fairly complex, with layers of flavor, including that merlot cherry flavor plus blackberries and spices, and would stand up to steak or lamb chops.

c porch

They have some little tables for two on the porch, in case you come in the summer.

Reasons to visit:  Laura and Beasley; the chance to taste some lovely wines, especially the Cyser, the sauvignon blanc, the Beasley’s Blend, and the Meritage; all sorts of interesting gift items you won’t find other places, like the carpenter bee houses, beeswax candles and other products; the opportunity to support monarch butterflies by buying the merlot; and I haven’t even mention the “winasaur” they’re building from used corks on the front lawn (Laura says when it’s done she’s going to make herself a dress from corks!).

c sundog

After spending an afternoon with Beasley, it seemed appropriate that on the way home we saw the solar phenomenon known as a sun dog!

 

 

 

 

Twin Stills Moonshine: All in the Family May 7, 2016

http://www.twinstillsmoonshinedistillery.com/

IMG_2618

We asked our server about the honey used in the delicious honey-flavored whiskey, and he turned to a woman next to him and asked, “Ma, where do we get our honey?”  After proudly telling us about their local sources, including their own beehives which they just started, she added, “My husband is from Portugal. That’s a drawing of his grandfather on the label. ”  This tiny distillery is the definition of a mom and pop store, with the stills in a back room of what used to be a little deli on Sound Avenue.

The honey flavor

The honey flavor

We had been eagerly awaiting its opening, intrigued by the idea of moonshine and rumrunners, given Long Island’s interesting history with both during Prohibition, and this chilly rainy May day seemed like the perfect opportunity to sample some warming whiskey.  It took them a while to open due to delays in getting their license.

A view along the bar.  That's mom in the background.

A view along the bar. That’s “mom” in the background.

The tasting room is small, with a bar along most of its length plus an alcove, but in the warm weather they plan to also use the porch and a patio area along one side of the building.  If you want snacks with your drinks, you’ll need to sit outside.  And you may want those drinks.  The moonshine whiskey—also referred to as “shine”—is made from locally sourced corn and barley, plus other ingredients which are, to the greatest extent possible, also local.  In the future they’d love to add a Portuguese-style grappa to their menu, which is what the owner’s grandfather made back in the original “twin stills” back in Portugal.  The drinks go down quite smoothly, despite the high proof, and some seem like guaranteed crowd pleasers.

The alcove off to one side of the tasting room.

The alcove off to one side of the tasting room.

The menu offers three tastes for $9 from their menu of five choices, plus beers from Greenport Harbor Brewery and ciders from the soon-to-open Riverhead Cider House on tap.  They also offer shots and cocktails, with a menu of interesting combinations, for $7-$9.  A 375ml bottle of flavored shine is $20, and a bottle of the 100 proof original is $25.  We decided to each get a flight, so we could sample all the flavors.

  1. Honey  80 proof

When I have a bad cold, I like to make myself a hot toddy, a mixture of whiskey, honey, and hot water or tea.  Lemon optional.  It may not cure anything, but it does make you feel better!  The honey shine reminded me of a hot toddy—just add hot water.  You can really taste honey, and it has an unctuous mouth feel that is quite pleasant.  I could see sipping this by the fire after dinner on a cold winter night.  Their cocktail idea is to add it to iced tea with a twist of lemon, which they call “Fricken Likken Good Tea.”

IMG_2621

  1. Apple Pie            50 proof

This is a good choice if you don’t actually like whiskey at all.  It tastes of apples and cinnamon and is too sweet for us.  It might be good in a mixed drink if you balanced the sweetness with something tart.  One mixed drink they make is called “The Red Neck,” and includes the apple pie flavor plus cranberry juice and a twist of lemon.

  1. Coffee 80 proof

I used to drink Black Russians as my preferred after dinner drink, and this reminds me of that.  It is our favorite flavor, and we buy a bottle to take home.  We are told that it is made with “real coffee beans,” but any further details are secret.  At any rate, it tastes like good coffee mixed with whiskey, with some sweetness.

The strawberry is a pretty color.

The strawberry is a pretty color.

  1. Strawberry 60 proof

We were afraid this would be cloyingly sweet, but the intensity of the strawberry flavor means it is not.  It reminds me a bit of LiV vodka’s strawberry after dinner drink, though again the mouth feel is different.  They recommend mixing it with lemonade and garnishing it with a strawberry, a drink they call “Southern Sunshine.”  They plan to use local strawberries when they are in season, which, despite the cold wet weather, should be soon.  After all, mid-June is when the Mattituck Strawberry Festival takes place.

Tiny but pretty cups

Tiny but pretty cups

  1. Moonshine Whiskey 100 proof

At this point, I think I should point out that the tastes are served in adorable but tiny pottery cups, “hand made in Portugal,” we are told, so though the alcohol level is high you will not be.  We are both single malt scotch drinkers, but this is a very different tipple.  You don’t get any of the peaty or smoky notes of a scotch, as this is a simpler drink.  It’s fine well-iced, which is how they serve it.  The cocktail menu suggests mixing it with lemonade and pineapple juice, garnished with a chunk of pineapple, for an “o’Old School Lemonade.”

The menu is on the obligatory blackboard, and you can also see the cider taps.  Note the saying.

The menu is on the obligatory blackboard, and you can also see the cider taps. Note the saying.

Reasons to visit:  you want to try something new; you like whiskey; you want a cocktail; the coffee and honey flavors; you want to buy various flavors to make cocktails at home; the cozy tasting room and the chance to chat about the making of whiskey (though they are somewhat sparing on the details).

The "old tymer" on the label is grandpa, the inspiration for the twin stills.

The “old tymer” on the label is grandpa, the inspiration for the twin stills.

Cute little building

Cute little building

Coffee Pot Cellars: Wine Country’s Cutest Couple 8/23/14

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

http://blossommeadow.com/

No, they don't serve coffee here!

No, they don’t serve coffee here!

“Perhaps a sign that says ‘Live Bees!’ is not the best way to get people into a winery,” I suggest to winemaker Adam Suprenant, owner of Coffee Pot Cellars.  He chuckles, and notes that when people ask if he has live music he says no, but they have live…bees.  Never fear, however, the bees are behind glass, and you can observe their activity while you sip Mr. Suprenant’s lovely wines and visit with him and his charmingly chatty wife, Laura Klahre, the beekeeping owner of Blossom Meadow.

A year ago when we stopped into the tasting room it had just recently opened, and we were the only ones there.  This time there were several other couples, including some who were clearly regulars, and much of the discussion centered around the award Mr. Suprenant was to receive that night from Governor Andrew Cuomo for producing the best oaked chardonnay in New York State, his 2013 vintage (not available for tasting).  “And I didn’t even want to make a chardonnay!” he confessed to us, but more about that later.

The tasting room is a small but pleasant space that had previously housed an antique store and after that a real estate agency.  Now the simple yellow-painted space has a tasting bar and shelves filled with Blossom Meadow goods—honey, beeswax candles and crayons in various shapes, and bee-related beauty products.  Last year we bought cat-shaped candles as a gift for cat lovers we were about to visit.

Some of the gift items available

Some of the gift items available

Both Mr. Suprenant and Ms. Klahre are enthusiastic and passionate about their fields, and it is fun to chat with them both about the intricacies of bee-keeping and wine making.  Did you know a bee has to visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey?

More gifts!

More gifts!

The tasting menu offers all six of their wines for $10, four for $8, or individual tastes for $2.50.  We opted for two complete tastings.

  1. Sauvignon Blanc 2012             $17.99

We sniff, and detect aromas of citrus and mineral or wet rock.  The taste is tart, almost grassy, with lots of lemon.  Not a wine to sip by itself, it would go well with a seafood in cream sauce dish.

The labels feature the Coffee Pot light house.

The labels feature the Coffee Pot light house.

  1. Chardonnay 2012 $15.99

As we enjoy this very lightly oaked chardonnay, Mr. Suprenant tells us why he didn’t plan to make a chard.  “Like a cliché?” I ask (ever the English teacher), and he agrees.  But a grower from whom he buys his grapes asked him to buy some chardonnay grapes due to an oversupply, and so he gave in.  Using older oak barrels, he fermented tow clones of chardonnay for only five months, and then arrested the malolactic fermentation with sulfites.  “Butter cookies!” I say of the aroma, and then sip.  Pineapple and what Mr. Suprenant confesses he compares to Juicy Fruit gum compose the actually very good taste.  Sippable.

  1. Gewürztraminer 2012 $21.99

The grapes for this wine come from Osprey’s Dominion, where Mr. Suprenant is the winemaker (He’s been a winemaker on the North Fork for 17 years.).  Nice flowery honeysuckle aroma, not too sweet, with some tangerine flavor, this is also a sippable wine.

  1. Merlot 2009 $17.99

A nice touch—he rinses the glasses with a bit of the merlot before we taste it.  The gewürtz would overpower anything else in the glass, he notes, but I also think that sometimes when wineries rinse with water you get a taste of chlorine!  Like all his wines, this is made with grapes purchased from North Fork growers, and 2009 was a notoriously bad year, with an excess of rain.  However, this wine has turned out pretty good, with aromas of berry and no earthiness. Though I think I scent wet rags, my husband says pine forest.  Wine tasting is not an exact science!

photo (17)

  1. Meritage 2008 $21.99

A Bordeaux blend, this version is 69% merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon, and 6% each petit verdot and cabernet franc, according to the tasting menu which, Ms. Klahre points out, she is proud they finally have.  Complex aromas of berry, flint and a bit of smoky forest precede tastes of blackberry and herbs.  Very nice, but the next is better.

  1. Meritage 2010 $25.99

2010 is known to be a good year, and this wine proves it.  59& merlot, 23% petit verdot, 14% cabernet franc, and 4% cabernet sauvignon, this Bordeaux blend really does taste like a Bordeaux.  The aroma is brambly, with a hint of earth that is not present in the taste.  We taste blueberry and some spice and like it so much we decide to buy two bottles for the cellar, marking them 2016.

Adam Suprenant

Adam Suprenant

Reasons to visit: you like bees and honey and beeswax products; you enjoy talking with people about their passions; the 2012 chardonnay (and maybe the 2013), the gewürztraminer, the 2010 Meritage; Adam and Laura.

 P.S.  The name refers to the lighthouse at Orient Point, which is said to resemble a coffee pot.  They do not, in fact, serve coffee at the winery!

photo (16)

The building was originally a house, and Adam and Laura will make you feel right at home.

The building was originally a house, and Adam and Laura will make you feel right at home.

 

 

Coffee Pot Cellars June 2, 2013

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

photo (49)

“I have to put out the wine tasting flag,” said Adam Suprenant, the owner and winemaker for Coffee Pot Cellars, “because people keep coming in wanting a cup of coffee!”  He grinned affably and looked around his spare but pleasant tasting room, which just opened a week ago on Main Road in a building formerly occupied by a real estate office.  Mr. Suprenant is the winemaker for Osprey’s Dominion, but he also decided to express himself with his own label, named, not for a pot of coffee, but for the lighthouse in Orient which supposedly looks like a coffee pot.  He makes just four wines, so, he noted, “They’d better be good!”  That they are; not a clunker in the bunch.

The tasting room features a very attractive bar made from reclaimed poplar wood, a small selection of wine-related items, and honey and beeswax products made by Blossom Meadow, a venture of his fiancée, who manages about 100 bee hives around the North Fork. Over on a shelf sits a demonstration hive, with a glass front so you can watch the busy bees at work.

photo (48)

We each had our own tasting, $7.00 for all four wines, or $2.00 per taste, and also enjoyed Mr. Suprenant’s comments on how he made each wine.

1.      2011 Sauvignon Blanc             $17.99 

Because not many vineyards grow sauvignon blanc grapes, Coffee Pot Cellars buys these grapes from Osprey’s Dominion, but Mr. S. makes the wine his own way.  A slightly mineral aroma precedes tastes of citrus and honeydew, with a nicely long and interesting finish.  Definitely a good raw seafood wine!

2.     2011 Chardonnay                     $15.99

“This is my Hurricane Irene wine,” Mr. S. notes, remembering how the intense rain and wind of the hurricane was followed two days later by heavy rain, forcing the early harvesting of the grapes.  “The wine was very lean,” he adds, so he allowed some malolactic fermentation, but aged the wine in older oak barrels, avoiding the over-oakiness and butteriness of some chardonnays.  We like this wine quite a bit, with its honey-vanilla aroma and just a hint of butterscotch amid the citrus flavors.  Buyable!

photo (51)

3.     2008 Merlot                              $17.99

This is the wine Coffee Pot started with, and merlot is of course Long Island’s most-grown red wine grape. The fruit for this and the chardonnay all came from one vineyard in Aquebogue, from a vineyard where the grower only grows grapes for others, rather than making his own wine.  That allows the wine to express its terroir, but not, we are pleased to note, with the earthy or dirt barnyard smells of some local reds.  “People ask me if Long Island wines will age well,” our new friend says, “and I say depends on the wine.  This one is doing quite well, and many will age for 6-8 years and just get better.”   We smell a pleasantly brambly aroma and taste pleasant berry and good tannins, though not a lot of depth.  Pretty color, too.

4. 2008 Meritage                           $21.99

After making just merlot, Mr. S. decided to try a blend, so he went to some winemakers at Premium Wine Group (at Lieb Cellars) to see if they had any wine they were not interested in using.  After some mixing and tasting, he came up with this very lovely wine, mostly merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon and 6% each petit verdot and cabernet franc.  Smells like a Briermere berry pie to me!  The petit verdot adds a bit of black pepper to the delicious fruit flavor, so it is sweet but not too sweet.  “I’ll only make this in the best years,” he explains, and also describes how he puts the wine through an oxidative process to eliminate that earth flavor, and also filters out the yeasts so they will stay the way he wants them to be. Buyable.

We buy a bottle each of the Chardonnay and the Meritage, plus some honey and a box of cat-shaped beeswax candles.

photo (50)

Reasons to visit:  A chance to talk to the winemaker and learn all about how he makes his wines; four quite tasty wines; honey and beeswax products; a nice quiet tasting room.