Laurel Lake Vineyards: Cold Day, Cold Wine 11/22/14

http://www.llwines.com/

Some customers browsed the selection of wine-related gifts.

Some customers browsed the selection of wine-related gifts.

After braving the cold winds to do some pre-holiday shopping at Tanger Outlets, we were ready to sit down and taste some wines.  Happily, Laurel Lake is well set up to accommodate those who prefer to sit rather than stand at their very attractive bar.  You pay for your tasting in advance–$15 for three tastes—and get tickets which you then turn in before each glass.  The menu offers choices among eight whites and eight reds, so we decided to do two tastings, three of each, sharing as we went.  Since the pour is fairly generous, our plan worked well.  We received two glasses, and kept the second glass for our reds.

laurel

As we sat, we noticed a few groups who had brought extensive snacks with them.  One couple braved the heated outdoor porch, and others opted to stand at the bar.  We also noticed a small selection of wine-related gift items, most with humorous messages.  Overall it was a quiet day there, in contrast to a few weeks ago when we pulled into the parking lot and found no empty spaces because a convention of Corvettes had taken them all.

The bar where we could have stood.

The bar where we could have stood.

  1. 2013 Pinot Gris                 $21.99

This, our first choice, like all the rest, was served much too cold, so we spent some time warming the glass before sampling.  They need to raise the temp in their fridge!  Once it warmed up, we smelled a vegetable aroma, almost like freshly cut grass and flowers.  The taste was dry and tart, with a touch of sweetness at first, reminiscent of a slightly under-ripe pineapple.  Though not a sipper, it would be fine with food.  I’m thinking local scallops with pasta and herbs.

laurel white

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $20.99

For this one, the tasting notes recommend having it with sushi, and I can see that, though I usually get sake with sushi.  It has a woodsy and citrusy aroma and tastes of white grapefruit.  Again, this is a dry white with plenty of acidity, and we liked it.

  1. 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve $22.99

We skip their un-oaked chard and are very happy with our choice to sample this one.   It spends 10 months in French oak, the notes tell us (The problem with sitting is that we don’t get to chat with the servers.), giving it the characteristic vanilla scent of oaked chards.  However, it is not too heavily oaked, with a lovely mellow almost creamy taste and a nice long vanilla finish.  Very buyable, we decide—and we do.

We bought this one.

We bought this one.

  1. 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve $29.99

Interestingly, this is stainless steel fermented and then aged in used French oak barrels for 12 months.  My husband says the smell reminds him of a warm blanket on a cold day.  I think he may just be tired after all that shopping and this is just wishful thinking, since I would describe the aroma as mainly blackberry.  In any event, this is a light pleasant red, with cherry and plum flavors.  The notes call it “rich and fleshy,” but we say “not so much.”

laurel bottles

  1. 2010 Cabernet Franc $19.99

Nice aromas of pepper and cedar and maybe grape jam precede tastes that we decide are nice but not exciting, with some good fruit but not much finish.

The pour is fairly generous.

The pour is fairly generous.

  1. 2011 Syrah $19.99

This is my favorite of the reds we try.  It has lots of dark berry aromas and tastes of purple plums, with a bit of a vegetable taste on the finish—or maybe kumquat.  The tannins cause a slight tingle on the tongue.  If we needed reds, I would buy it.

You can see the large heated porch through the windows.

You can see the large heated porch through the windows.

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room where you can bring a picnic; the 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve and the 2011 Syrah; most of the wines are reasonably priced (for the North Fork); lots of choices; a generous pour.

 

The building is quite attractive.

The building is quite attractive.

Sparkling Pointe August 25, 2013

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

Sparkling

It seemed appropriate on a sparkling August day, after several hours watching the sun sparkling on the water, to check out Sparkling Pointe winery, where they specialize in sparkling wine.  And a good choice it was.  Using the Méthode Champenoise to make authentic champagne-style wines (which can’t actually be called champagne because only wines from the Champagne region of France can legally bear that title), they have taken Long Island grapes into the realm of luxury wines.

The bright and airy tasting room leads out to a spacious patio area, which they need, since they often get van and busloads of visitors, as we have noted as we have driven by.  Just as Croteaux evokes France and Diliberto evokes Italy, Sparkling Pointe evokes Brazil, featuring Bossa Nova nights and paintings of Rio in its tasting room.  According to a server on a previous visit, the owners happen to “love the culture” of Brazil.  The winery also tries to promote an air of elegance, with crystal chandeliers on the ceiling and caviar on the fairly extensive snack menu. Once, when we came on Halloween, all the servers were in fancy dress, either tuxedos or ball gowns.  The snack menu, which needs to be somewhat extensive since they have a note on the door politely informing guests that they no longer allow outside food, also includes charcuterie, various cheeses, olives, and more,  as well as iced tea, Pellegrino, and something called Vita Coco Coconut Water from Brazil.  We have goodies waiting at home, so we decide to just do two tastings, one for our son and another we will share, at $17 for four tastes in pretty champagne flutes.   Although they have more than four wines, they decide on the menu of tastings each day. Oh, and you can add a chocolate pairing for an additional $10.

Our server knows his stuff, and seems quite enthusiastic, but he is also taking care of a couple of larger parties out on the patio and seems somewhat distracted, rushing back and forth.  Fortunately, we are not in a hurry.

  1.   2009 Brut                                           $29

This is their “signature” wine, a blend of 59% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, and 5% reserve wine.  I want to ask the server what “reserve wine” means, though I assume it is wine left over from other years, but he has disappeared and I forget when he returns.  We like the Brut better than on a past visit.  It has a somewhat doughy smell, with some notes of not-ripe melon, or maybe pear.  It is a light, dry champagne, with some residual sugar and a hint of grapefruit.  While I wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, as in a toast, it would be a lovely aperitif wine with nuts or soft cheese.

2.  2008 Blanc de Blancs                      $42 (Magnum $93)

On the other hand, I would happily drink a toast with this wine.  After a year on the lees, this 100% Chardonnay wine has a somewhat funky mineral aroma but is creamy to taste, and reminds me of a Granny Smith apple pie.  Nicely dry, but with good fruit, I could also see this paired with some Crescent Farms duck breast. and my son agrees.  It is better than most $20 champagnes one buys.

3.  2003 Brut Seduction                       $60

Another blend, this one is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, and spent eight years on the lees, according to our server.  One nicety—each taste is poured into a fresh glass. Here we smell dirt and mushrooms, but taste raspberry and lemon curd.  One could definitely sip this on its own and be very happy.  The tasting notes refer to its “organoleptic profile,” which occasions some hilarity in our little party.  Look it up.

4.  NV Cuvée Carnaval                         $27

Our server has poured our final taste before we finished the one before, and left, noting that he won’t be back, a fistful of glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, so I miss whatever he said about this wine, as I was concentrating on the previous one and comparing notes with my son.  This wine combines Merlot and Chardonnay, plus 4% Gewürztraminer, which probably accounts for some of its sweetness.  We smell strawberry jam and taste mango and cherry.  It wouldn’t be bad with a dessert like a flourless chocolate cake, and, for a sweet wine, has some nice minerality, so I like it better than I thought I would.  If you didn’t have Chateau d’Yquem, my husband notes, you could substitute this.  Well, maybe…

After we finish our last wine, we stand at the bar waiting to pay for our tastings, our server, as promised, having disappeared.  A gentleman comes over and asks us if we are waiting to buy a bottle.  No, we say, just waiting to pay for our tastings.  He thanks us for our patience, and tells us the tastings are free!  Nice gesture, which somewhat makes up for our harried server’s divided attentions.

Reasons to visit:  you like champagne—um, I mean, sparkling wine; you want to see what a North Fork winery can do with sparkling wines; you want caviar with your champ…sparkling wine; the Blanc de Blancs (my favorite); Bossa Nova nights.