Other Types of Tastings on the North Fork

Wine, beer, cider, liquor:  I love to taste them all.  But there are other types of tastings on offer on the North Fork.  Unlike wineries and breweries, there’s no charge for these tastings, but you are expected to buy something in the process.  Don’t be greedy!  Try a few, and then choose a product to purchase.

Here are four places where you can try before you buy, two in Mattituck and two in Greenport.

The Magic Fountain

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Ice cream!  The Magic Fountain is a landmark in Mattituck, on the corner of Factory Lane and Main Road.  Check the big sign for the latest special flavors…and they are special.  For example, in March they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Guinness-flavored ice cream, which was surprisingly good.  The harvest of local fruits brings flavors including them, plus there are always plenty of other varieties.  How to choose?  Ask for a sample of a couple that intrigue you before you decide on a cup or a cone, or a pint to take home.  Yum.

The Village Cheese Shop

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I’ve seen people having lunch inside and in the little garden area off to one side.

Love Lane in Mattituck is a foodie paradise, as I’ve noted before, featuring a couple of restaurants, the Sweet Shoppe, Lombardi’s Italian market, and, my favorite, the Village Cheese Shop.  I’ve never bought an imperfect cheese from them.  The array of cheeses in the glass fronted case can be a bit intimidating, but the people behind the counter are always very helpful.  You can tell them what you like and they will find cheeses for you.  Not sure if you’ll like something?  They are very ready to offer a sliver or a smear for a taste.   Just recently, I asked for a creamy blue, moderately strong, and was immediately offered a taste of a gorgonzola that was exactly that.  You can pick up a loaf of bread from Tom Cat bakery or some crackers to go with your cheese, as well as charcuterie and other accoutrements.  They also offer lunch, including fondue, with wine.

Vines and Branches

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If you’re not used to tasting olive oil and vinegar, this can seem a bit odd at first.  By now, we’re old hands, having followed the store to three different locations in the village of Greenport.  At the moment, it is on Front Street, near the corner of Main.  When you walk in you will see an array of large metal urns, fronted by small bottles of each variety, all clearly labeled, with tiny paper cups for sampling.  Pour a very small amount from the glass bottle into the cup and take a sip.  The olive oils range from pure oils from various countries to oils infused with flavors from truffle to lemon and more.  Similarly, there are vinegars from dark to white balsamic to wine, flavored with everything from pomegranates to maple syrup to herbs or spices.  We no longer buy salad dressing, but simply add our current choice of oil and vinegar to our salads, plus some salt and pepper.  Save and clean the bottles (I find they need several trips through the dishwasher.) and they will refill them, saving you $2 per bottle.

Greenport Fire

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We ventured into this store for the first time recently, and were glad we did.  The u-shaped counter is lined with sample bottles of hot sauces, ranging in heat from mild to get-out-the-fire-hose.  The proprietor was very helpful, as we pondered over the panoply, offering us tastes on a little spoon.  He noted that none of his offerings are widely distributed, and if they become so he stops offering them, so you will definitely find unique sauces here.  For example, he makes one sauce that is only available in his store, and also the sauces for Lucharita, the excellent Mexican restaurant next door.  We’ll be back!

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Given how incendiary some of his sauces are, it seems appropriate that there’s a fire hydrant right outside the shop!

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.