The thunder was ominous, and we barely made it into the tasting room before a deluge poured from the sky. However, the menacing weather meant that on this Wednesday afternoon we had the tasting room to ourselves (though a couple of other groups arrived later). With no urgent business, we stayed for almost two hours, snacking on hummus and pretzel chips we had brought with us and chatting with our friends who confessed they were neophytes to wine tasting—though not to wine drinking. “I’m a virgin,” my friend joked, explaining that though she’d been to wineries for events she’d never actually sat down for a tasting.
In that case, I was glad I’d chosen to take our friends to Pellegrini, where you can have your tray of tastes delivered to your table and spend as long as you like discussing the wines. Our discussions ranged from the personal to the political, but we did devote some attention to the wines, which our friends generally enjoyed. They had some favorites, and others they didn’t finish, about which more later.
A tasting includes any three wines you choose from the menu printed on a placemat, which then becomes your guide to the order in which to drink the wines, plus a sample of their rosé, for $12. Since we are wine club members, our tastings were free. We all chose a variety of different wines, so I’m going to comment on my choices first, with some briefer notes on other options.
- 2015 Rosé $19.99
We decided we would all start with this, since it was one wine we had in common, so we could discuss both this particular drink and also how to think about the aroma and taste of wine. A steel-fermented blend of 35% merlot, 32% cabernet sauvignon, and 33% cabernet franc, this is a light dry rosé with a distinctively citric taste we decided was more like tangerine than lemon. It had only a faint bit of the strawberry aroma many rosés have, and lots of minerality. My friend particularly liked the pale pink color.
- 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $24.99
As in the past, I like this wine. It’s a crisp steel-fermented sauvignon blanc with a bit of a gooseberry aroma and nice balance of mineral and lemony citrus. I would have it with local oysters. My friend said she would too—if she liked oysters. Well, then, with scallops? Oh, yes.
- 2014 East End Select BBQ Red $18.99
What kind of wine do you want to serve at a barbeque? Probably something uncomplicated and easy to drink that goes well with burgers and doesn’t cost too much. Hence BBQ Red. Made from steel-fermented petit verdot, this is simple and direct and light and dry. You could even have it with hot dogs.
- 2011 Petit Verdot $29.99
If you want to understand the difference between a wine that has been steel-fermented and one that has been aged 20 months in French oak, you might want to follow the BBQ Red with this petit verdot. This remains one of my favorite North Fork reds, with rich flavors of blueberry and other berries and dark plums, pleasantly tannic and dry. It can stand up to a steak. Our friend agrees, and this is the only glass he, who is not much of a drinker, empties.
Now here are a few notes on other wines, in no particular order, though we did spend some time explaining why the order in which you sample a tasting matters. Basically, you want to go from the lightest to the most flavorful, so you can appreciate each one as it comes.
- 2014 Medley White $21.99
I wasn’t sure my friend would like this one, since she is not fond of sweet wines and this blend includes 5% gewürztraminer as well as 55% sauvignon blanc and 40% chardonnay, and I was right. She was not a fan, describing both the taste and smell as “pungent.” It did have a bit of that cat pee smell you sometimes get. She did not finish her glass, but much preferred her next taste.
- 2015 Stainless Steel Chardonnay $19.99
A fan of pinot grigio, our friend liked this dry, citrusy chard, which she described as “mild.” I like it too, better than their oaked chard.
- 2014 Chardonnay $19.99
Although this is a blend of 80% oaked chard (8 months aged) and 20% steel chard, we felt this was still too oaky for our taste.
- 2010 Merlot $29.99
My friends were not fond of this merlot, which they felt could have been fruitier.
- 2012 Cabernet Franc $29.99
Actually a Bordeaux blend of 84% cabernet franc, 7% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon, and 4% petit verdot, this red also was not a favorite with our friends, who perhaps found it too tannic for their taste. I think a few more years of aging would be useful.
Reasons to visit: as I’ve said before, a good all-around winery, with plenty of good choices in both white and red and reasonable prices; nice place to go with friends, as you can sit at a table with your tastes and bring your own snacks; the steel chardonnay, the sauvignon blanc, the petit verdot, the BBQ Red.