Jamesport Vineyards: No Pizza Today February 3, 2018

wehttp://www.jamesportwines.com/

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Don’t let the sunshine fool you–It was COLD!

In the summer, Jamesport has a wood-fired oven on the back patio, where they make thin-crust pizzas.  They also often serve local oysters, and we have enjoyed sitting outside there with a glass of white wine and a plate of oysters in the summer sun, listening to music.  However, this was the day after Groundhog Day, the icy parking lot made it clear there would be no sitting outside today, and when a couple came in seeking pizza they were referred to the restaurant Grana, just down the street.  They were offered a cheese and charcuterie plate ($42), which a couple of large parties were having at their tables. (Jamesport does not allow pets or outside food, and allows children only outside in the back yard, not in the bar area.)

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In the summer it is lovely to sit out here and enjoy music, oysters, and pizza from the wood-fired oven.

While some people might have been disappointed at the lack of pizza, they would not be disappointed in the wines.  We tried ten (well, actually eleven) and liked most of them.  The tasting menu offers any five wines for $20 from a list that includes six whites, six reds, three petillant naturels (sparkling wines), and a verjus.  We decided to share two tastings, starting with the whites and then doing reds.

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The nice-sized barn-like tasting room was surprisingly full for a mid-week winter day, but the lone server bustled about and was able to attend to everyone’s needs, including chatting with us about the wines and customizing our tasting.  I am often so impressed with the people who serve in the wineries, with their ability to keep everyone’s tastings straight, recommend wines for varying tastes, and stay cheerful throughout.

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  1. 2015 East End Chardonnay        $18.95

Through a window in the wall of the tasting room you can see the steel vats in which this chardonnay is fermented.  We sniff and identify citrus, orange, flowers, and another smell and taste we can’t quite identify until our server suggests almonds.  Yes, bitter almond it is.  We like this chardonnay, with its full taste and long finish, not too sweet, with a bit of minerality.  We discuss what to pair it with, and settle on tuna, like the lovely tuna steaks we bought at the Riverhead Farmers Market last week.

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What’s the difference between East End and Estate? At Jamesport, the former is their less expensive line. Legally, I’ve been told, “estate” doesn’t mean anything, so wineries can define it as they like.

  1. 2015 Estate Chardonnay $22.95

Oaked chards are not my favorite, but this one is not too oaky, with some lime and pear tastes, and almonds again.  Both chards have a long finish.  The tasting notes say “honey,” which I identify as the mouth feel of the wine.  I could see having this with a spicy Italian seafood dish, like a fra diavolo.

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  1. 2014 Sauvage Reserve $30.95

Our server is able to tell us that this wine uses sauvignon blanc clones, but not whether or not the word “sauvage” refers to wild yeast.  In any event, this is another nice wine, a bit on the light side even though it is aged in oak, with a taste that reminds me of a fruit salad seasoned with a bit of liqueur.  If I were here in the summer and having oysters, I’d get a glass of this, though we are told that a new vintage of this will be coming out soon, so I’d try a taste before I committed to a glass.

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See my notes before you decide which riesling to try.

  1. 2013 Estate Riesling $22.95

There are two rieslings on the menu, and we choose this one because the other is called Demi-Sec, and is described as slightly sweet.  Interestingly, this one is actually sweeter, as we discover when we tell our server it is too sweet for us.  Here, he says, try a little taste of the 2013 Demi-Sec Riesling ($22.95).  We like it better.  It is less cloying and lighter, with an aroma that reminds us of cider.  The menu describes the Estate Riesling as “crisp.”  Nope.

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By this time, we were friends with the server, so when he noted the bottle was almost empty he gave us the rest in our taste.

  1. 2015 East End CINQ Blanc $18.95

No surprise, this is a blend of five whites: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, albariño, and pinot blanc.  We describe this as a good, everyday table wine, and our friend the server agrees.  It has a touch of sweetness, but not too much, with tastes of kiwi and peach and some minerality.  You could have it with an omelet in the morning, he suggests, which leads to various humorous comments about a day that starts like that.  How about with a quiche, I offer.  If I needed some whites at home, I might have bought this one.

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  1. 2014 East End CINQ Red $19.95

New glass as we switch to our red tasting, starting with another blend of five, this time of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, and pinot noir.  I decide it smells like a Bordeaux, and if I had to guess I would bet that it has more cabernet sauvignon than merlot.  It smells like dark fruits and berries and tastes like that, too.  It is a somewhat light red, with no depth and some tannins, and would make a perfect picnic wine.

  1. 2013 Merlot Estate $27.95

This is another easy to drink wine, with the expected cherry aroma and taste, plus some hints of dark chocolate.  It would go well with lamb or pork, but is not big enough to have with steak.

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The sign tells you how many bottles of wine you can get per acre of grapes. An acre can yield about 300 bottles!

  1. 2015 Estate Syrah $24.95

I tend to like syrahs, and I like this one, too.  I smell and taste dark fruits, especially purple plum, plus some spice, perhaps pepper.  Really dry, this has strong tannins that make me think it could age.  This wine would be fine with steak.

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  1. 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc $32.95

And aging is what I think this cab needs.  It doesn’t have much aroma.  Lots of tannins, and it is dry, but the fruit seems underdeveloped to me.  Just okay.

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  1. 2014 Mélange de Trois $34.95

If you know French, you can deduce that this is a blend of three grapes and a play on “ménage à trois”:  cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc.  It is aged for two years in French oak, and then another two years in the bottle.  We get into a discussion of the various grapes in this wine, and our server tells us how cabernet sauvignon does not do well every year.  In fact, last year rather than use their cabernet sauvignon grapes in their own wine, they felt they did not meet Jamesport’s standards and sold the whole crop to Premium Wine Group.  We like this wine, too, though it is more austere than luscious.  Dry, with good tannins, it has blackberry and spice tastes.  I could see having this with leg of lamb or steak frites.

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Seems like a nice selection of cheeses.

Reasons to visit:  in the summer, a big outdoor area with music and wood-oven pizza and oysters; in the winter, a cozy tasting room with cheese trays; the East End Chardonnay, the Sauvage Reserve, the East End CINQ Blanc and Red, the Mélange de Trois.  We didn’t get to try the sparkling wines, but they have three if you were interested to try them.

Jamesport Vineyards: Brrr, It’s Cold Outside December 16, 2016

http://www.jamesportwines.com/

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On the coldest day so far this winter, we ventured forth to do some errands and a wine tasting.  We paid our final visits until spring to Bayview (potatoes and Brussels sprouts) and Briermere (last pie for months to come, a yummy blackberry apple), and then headed to Jamesport for a tasting.  In the past, we’d been there in warm weather and had enjoyed sitting outside on their pretty patio, watching families frolic in the capacious back yard and enjoying oysters.  Some day, we decided, we’d have to return to try the flatbreads from their outdoor wood-fired oven.  But now it was winter, very quiet, and rather chilly.  The only other occupants of the tasting room were a small party enjoying a bottle of wine at one of the tables. There are a few small tables and a long bar along one side.  Not much is on offer by way of merchandise aside from the wines.  We stepped up to the bar, and eventually the pleasant young woman behind it came over and asked us if we wanted to do a tasting.

Plenty of room at the bar on this cold winter Friday.

Plenty of room at the bar on this cold winter Friday.

Also room at the tables...

Also room at the tables…

We did, but first we needed some time to peruse the menu.  A tasting consists of any five of their wines for $18, so we decided to share one, even though that meant we had to skip many of the wines.  The menu offers nine whites (including one sparkling), seven reds (which includes a rosé, though some places list the rosé with the whites), two dessert wines, and a non-alcoholic verjus.  No guidance from the server being on offer, we made up our own minds.  As Christmas music tinkled in the background, we signaled her that we were ready for our first taste.

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  1. 2015 Estate Sauvignon Blanc      $21.95

In the past we’ve enjoyed their steel fermented East End Sauvignon Blanc with our oysters, so we decided it was time to try their other sauvignon blanc, one that is also steel fermented but spends some time in “oak puncheons.”  The aroma is mostly vegetal, with a hint of cat pee.  The server describes it as “New Zealand style.”  We sniff and sip.  Nicely dry, with a touch of sweetness on the tongue. I taste pineapple, and my tasting buddy says he can taste the oak.  Maybe a little.

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  1. 2013 Estate Riesling (Dry) $25.95

Described on the menu as “trocken”—which means dry in the German style—and by our server as having “no residual sugar,” this is indeed quite dry.  In fact, I find it rather sour.  My husband disagrees, though he agrees with my assessment that this is not my favorite riesling.  I think it smells somewhat chemical, with a whiff of apricot pits (arsenic, anyone?).  I taste hard green apricots and not ripe apple.  He likes it better than I do, though in general we both favor dry rieslings.

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  1. 2014 East End Cinq Red $18.95

Now we move to the reds, and get a clean glass.  By the way, we like their glasses very much—stemless and round-bottomed, they work well to warm the wines which, as in many places, are all served too cold.  If you know French, you may already have guessed that this is a blend of five grapes—cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, and pinot noir.  Our server disappears to take a phone call before we can ask her about the proportions.  The bottle was just opened, which might account for a smell my husband characterizes as gasoline.  I’m not sure I agree (we seem to have more differences of opinion than usual today!), but I do get a bit of a sweet chemical aroma in addition to the expected red fruit smells.  We do, however, agree that the wine has more aroma than taste, and it is dry but not at all tannic.  I think it is a bit unbalanced, though I like the slightly peppery note at the end.  I would say just okay, a red you could have with roast chicken or lamb chops but not with Italian food or steak.

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  1. 2014 Thiméo Reserve $74.95

“How is this pronounced?” we ask our server before she can disappear again, “And where did the name come from?”  She replies, “Timeo, and it is named for the grandson of the French man who makes our barrels, Jean Louis Bossuet.  We collaborated with him to make this wine.”  While we have her, we ask about the grapes.  “75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc,” she replies, and is off to the far end of the bar before we can ask her why this one is so expensive.  Oh well.  It smells good; we detect lots of cocoa and some of the oak.  We try warming the glass in our palms to try to get a better idea of the taste, since we find it nice but not $75 nice.  Lots of tannins, so perhaps it would age well.  I decide to use a phrase I’ve seen lots of times, “It shows promise.”  My husband says you’d have to have an awful lot of faith in promises to buy it at that price.

My favorite of the day, the syrah.

My favorite of the day, the syrah. We also liked the glasses.

  1. 2014 East End Syrah $18.95

Finally, a wine I really like!  The menu—and our server—describe this as having been made in the “feminine style,” and therefore “not jammy.”  The aroma is of warm spices, like cardamom, and dark fruit, the taste is dry but fruity.  This would also pair well with lamb chops (maybe from 8 Hands Farm), but you wouldn’t want it with a very strong-flavored entrée, since it would be overwhelmed.  If we needed a red, I could see getting a bottle of this.

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Reasons to visit:  come in the summer, when you can sit outside and enjoy music and snacks, like their wood-oven-baked flatbreads; the East End Syrah; in the past, we’ve liked their East End Sauvignon Blanc.

Plenty of room in the summer for families, dogs, and picnicers.

Plenty of room in the summer for families, dogs, and picnickers.

Through a window in the tasting room you can peep in to see the vats.

Through a window in the tasting room you can peep in to see the vats.

Jamesport Vineyards: Summer time! May 10, 2015

http://www.jamesportwines.com/

The entrance to Jamesport Vineyards

The entrance to Jamesport Vineyards

Jamesport Vineyards is a great place to go in the summer because they have a huge back yard area.  When we were there on Mother’s Day a bunch of kids had started an impromptu baseball game (with a plastic bat), a singer-guitarist played folkie/pop songs, and groups lingered at the picnic tables scattered on the grounds.  However, since their tasting policy is “one taste at a time,” it is best to go there when you plan to order a glass of wine—I suggest the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or the Cinq Blanc—and a plate of oysters, rather than go for a tasting if you want to hang out outside.  (They start serving oysters soon, when they also fire up the outdoor oven to make flatbreads.)

One view of the spacious back yard

One view of the spacious back yard

We did both—a tasting inside at the bar, then a glass each to sip as we relaxed outside.  Since our son was with us, we decided to share two tastings, which are $15 for five tastes, chosen from their menu of wines.   We coordinated our choices, so you’ll get to read about ten of their wines.  There were a few we didn’t get to sample, such as their rosé, which, after being at Croteaux the day before, we decided not to try.

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You can peek at some of the wine-making equipment from the tasting room.

You can peek at some of the wine-making equipment from the tasting room.

  1. East End Chardonnay                    $16.95

90% steel fermented, 10% oak, means that this is a somewhat crisp chardonnay, though it is a tad sweet for us.  The aroma is of citrus and roasted pear.

If you order certain wines, you support aquaculture on the East End.

If you order certain wines, you support aquaculture on the East End.

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  1. East End Cinq Blanc $16.95

Cinq means five, and this is a blend of five grapes:  chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot blanc.  The aroma is interesting, as is the taste.  We smell a bit of a funky, wet forest smell, and taste kiwi and key lime.  We like this wine, and pronounce it “piquant.”

  1. 2012 Dry Riesling $25.95

Our son was thinking of trying their other riesling, but we persuaded him to try the dry one, as the other is described as sweet.  Then when we smelled it we thought we’d be sorry, since the aroma is quite funky and musty.  However, it tastes better than it smells, though the taste carries a bit of that funkiness.  Mostly it is dry and crisp, with lots of lemon and a touch of wet rock.  (Okay, so I’ve never tasted a wet rock, but if you go outside in Manhattan and take a good whiff of the air after a doorman has rinsed the hot sidewalk on a hot summer day, then imagine what that would taste like, you’ll get what I mean.)

  1. 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc $27.95

Nice.  Flowery honeysuckle aroma and a nice mouth feel with a fair amount of fruit, especially barely ripe cantaloupe, make this a good one.  You can sense a bit of oakiness.

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  1. East End Cinq Red $16.95

As we switch to reds, we get new glasses, a nice touch.  Cinq again refers to five grapes, in this case cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir, and petit syrah.  The aroma is quite sweet, like red candy but with a touch of tobacco smokiness.  I say it is tart, while my two companions insist on saying sour.  Okay, so how about with a rich lasagna made with hot sausage?  That would work, they agree.

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  1. 2010 Mattituck Cabernet Franc $30

“Mattituck” refers to their vineyard in that town, and we think it must be a good one.  The wine smells delicious—chocolate, tobacco, and ripe plum—and tastes pretty good too, though it is quite tannic.  Think about how a strong cup of tea without milk makes your tongue feel…

  1. 2010 Mélange de Trois $34.95

Ha-ha, we get it, like a ménage à trois only with three wines.  41% cabernet sauvignon, 23% cabernet franc, and 31% merlot is the combo here.  Funky aroma again, lots of blackberry tastes, pretty tannic:  we like it!   It would pair well with lamb or beef stew.

  1. 2010 MTK Syrah $30

I tend to like syrahs, and this is no exception.  Lovely smells of black cherry and spice, tastes of red cherry, cocoa, and a touch of tobacco.  I could see this with a nice pork roast.  Oh, and MTK is the abbreviation for Mattituck.

The tasting room is fine, but we wanted to be outside.

The tasting room is fine, but we wanted to be outside.

  1. 2007 Jubilant Reserve $34.95

A Bordeaux blend, this wine has 68% cabernet franc, 18% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 2.5% syrah, and 2.5% petit verdot—and a fruity aroma.  However, it is surprisingly light, and would not stand up to a big steak.  However, I like it, and compare the taste to dried cranberries, which at first surprises my companions and then they nod their heads in agreement.

  1. 2007 “SIDOR” Syrah Reserve $34.95

We manage to get the very busy server to stop for a moment and explain the name of this wine; “It’s for the name of the farmer who owns the land,” she says, before hurrying off to fill the next glass.  Although it is called syrah, this is actually a blend of 62% syrah, 18% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc, 9% merlot, and 2% petit verdot.  The smell is…not good.  Musty basement, I opine, and they agree.  The taste is dry, of cherries, but also a tad funky.  Our son likes it but wouldn’t particularly buy it.

That yard is calling.

That yard is calling.

After the tasting we each get a glass—the Cinq Blanc for our son (plus he buys a bottle to take home), and the Mélange de Trois for us—and sit outside to savor the beautiful weather, the laid-back scene, the wine, the music, and the company of each other.

Bud break has happened!

Bud break has happened!

Reasons to visit:  the lovely back yard area where you can bring a picnic or buy oysters or flatbreads or other snacks; the Cinq Blanc, the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, the Mattituck Cabernet Franc, the Mélange de Trois, the MTK Syrah, the Jubilant Reserve.

Another view of Jamesport's expansive yard.

Another view of Jamesport’s expansive yard.

Jamesport Vineyards: Oyster Heaven 5/10/14

https://www.jamesportwines.com/

Welcome sign, in every way

Welcome sign, in every way

Oysters!   If you Google Long Island Wineries and oysters, you get Jamesport, and with good reason. They have a lovely stone oyster bar in their extensive back yard area, and they feature a raw oyster bar just about every weekend.

The sun came out and all of a sudden we went from winter to summer, so we decided it was a good day to sit in a garden and sample some white wine and oysters, so off we went to Jamesport. Along the way we noticed an absolute explosion of dandelions, as well as signs for spinach and asparagus. Yay for the latter!

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If you want oysters, walk through the tasting room, out the back door to the pretty patio and order them at the stone counter. We decided to splurge on a dozen each, for $24 per dozen (6 for $15). The cheerful young man opening the oysters turned out to be Joshua Clauss, the proprietor of Harvest Moon Shellfish of Peconic Bay. After we were done, when we went to compliment him on the quality of his oysters—fresh and briny and plump—he told us this was his first crop, after three years in the business, seven years altogether learning how to cultivate oysters. He said he would be sold out by July, and hoped to have his next crop by October. We plan to look for his oysters again!

To go with them, we each took a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($10), served in attractive round-bottomed glasses. The Sauvignon Blanc has lots of citrus aroma and taste, which makes it a perfect complement to the oysters. What’s nice is the lemon-lime flavors are balanced with a touch of sweetness, which also pairs well with shellfish.

A bulldog cozies up to the bar

A bulldog cozies up to the bar

As we sat in French-café-style chairs at a little round table, we enjoyed the warm day, the many dogs rolling in the grass (allowed on leashes) and the blues/pop singing and guitar playing of Ahmad Ali. If you see him on the schedule of a winery, you might make a point of going, as his mellow sound meshes well with a sunny afternoon.

Music among the tables

Music among the tables

We could also have chosen pizzas, which we watched being made in a brick oven, or beer from Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, or various other snacks and wines. Jamesport does not allow outside picnic baskets, but we saw plenty of people happily eating the Jamesport fare. We also overheard a young couple being given a tour of their wedding facilities.

More dogs, and a bit of the side yard

More dogs, and a bit of the side yard

Reasons to visit: Oysters!!!; the Sauvignon Blanc; a pretty outdoor area with picnic tables and lots of space; music.

All done with the oysters!

All done with the oysters!

Menu

Menu

Jamesport Vineyards July 13, 2013

http://www.jamesportwines.com/

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The last time we went to Jamesport Vineyards it had been to simply have a glass of wine and a plate of oysters, not a bad reason to visit as they are very well set up for that (more on the oysters later), but we felt it was time to do a complete tasting.   The tasting room is in a 150-year-old barn, and is half bar and half a view through large windows into the wine-making operation.  Though the room itself is small they have lots of space outside, and we see large groups immediately ushered to the outdoor space.  They have a few t-shirts and other items for sale.  Our server presents us with a list, but gives very little additional guidance, so we are left to decide for ourselves what to taste.  A tasting is 5 wines for $13, and they have 13 wines in all, so we decide to share two tastings so we can sample 10 of their wines, which are served in attractive round-bottomed glasses.  We skip the Rosé, the Pinot Noir, and the East End Cabernet Franc. We also notice that the list of bottles for sale is not exactly the same as the tasting list.

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  1.  2011 Reserve Chardonnay                          $21.95

Our server informs us that this spends “a little bit” of time in oak and the rest in steel, so it is not too buttery, and she is right, though perhaps it could have used more time in oak, as it is very lemony and tart.  The aroma is of wood and spice, and while not unpleasant we find it too citrusy.

2.East End Cinq Blanc                                         $16.95

My high school French reminds me that cinq=five, and indeed, this wine is made from 5 grapes:  Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Blanc (in unknown proportions).  The bottle has an attractive picture of a scallop shell, so we turn it around to read that this wine is made, as they say, “…in partnership with the SPAT (Southold Project in Aquaculture Training) program. This Cornell Cooperative/Community-based partnership encompasses an initiative to teach residents how to raise their own shellfish in the bays of the East End. The large scallop shell on the label pays homage to the bounty of the North Fork’s bays and creeks.”  Fittingly, we feel this wine would go very well with local oysters!  I detect an aroma of piney woods and a lovely crisp taste of gooseberries with some citrus at the finish.  Very buyable!

3. 2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                     $24.95

“This is my favorite white,” enthuses our server, and if she likes pineapple that would explain why.  We like it too, but not as much as the Cinq, though it would also be good with oysters.  An aroma again of pine forest precedes a taste with lots of pineapple, and maybe some pine, too.

4.  2010 Riesling                                                      $25.95

Off dry?  Not really.  An aroma of petrol, they say?  We say cardamom, and we also say too sweet, and we also say time to dump the rest of the glass.

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5.  2008 East End Merlot                                      $16.95

Moving on to the reds, we start with their merlot, which we quite like, also.  Aromas of blueberry and cinnamon, tastes of cherry and berry, and no earth means we’re happy.  Some tannins, and the end is a bit sour.  This is also buyable.

6.  2005 Estate Merlot Block E                           $??? (not on bottle list)

We smell minerals and wood, taste some cherry, but it is very dry and has no finish to speak of.  Just eh.

7. 2007 Cabernet Franc                                       $29.95

This is a relatively simple Cab, though with a nice long finish.  Some cherry aromas, but not much smell at all, and nicely dry with good fruit.

8.  2007 Mèlange de Trois                                   $29.95

Their Bordeaux blend, this is an amalgam of 49%Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 26% Cabernet Franc.  Although there’s not much aroma, the taste is delicious, like ripe purple plums and what I believe are called “chewy tannins.”  Whatever.  It’s good!

9.  2007 Jubilant Reserve                                    $44.95

Another blend, and this is a wow:  68%Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Syrah, and 2.5% Petit Verdot.  Yum.  Aroma of dried figs, lots of complex ripe fruit tastes, and a lovely finish.  Happy tongue.  This would go great with a Porterhouse steak from Wayside Market.

10. 2007 Sidor Reserve                                          $44.95

62% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 9%Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot—They do like their blends here.  And justifiably so!  This is not as good as the Jubilant, but still really good, with nice tannins , dry, but lots of fruit, with an aroma of cedar and ripe figs.

I note one wine on the bottle list which goes for $100, pretty unusual for the North Fork.

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We pay for our tastings and then move outside to the attractive stone bar, behind which are two people, a drink server and an oyster opener.  We get a glass of the Cinq to share for $8 with a plate of a dozen oysters for $22.  If you get them, get the cocktail sauce and grated horseradish, not because the oysters need any embellishment, but because both sauces are very good, especially the horseradish. They also offer some beers on tap and Margarita pizzas.  A singer provides entertainment to the various groups scattered around the grounds at picnic tables.  We sit on a cushioned bench at a small wooden table across from the bar and enjoy our treat.  The oysters a bit small, but very fresh, with lots of liquid, and the wine goes perfectly with them.

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Reasons to visit:  you want to have a glass of wine and a plate of oysters; the East End Cinq Blanc, the East End Merlot, the Mélange de Trois, the Jubilant, and the Sidor; you want to sit outside and listen to music; you want to support SPAT.