Southold Farm + Cellar: Poetry in and on a Bottle 10/3/2015

https://www.southoldfarmandcellar.com/

The entrance to the tasting shed

The entrance to the tasting shed

The Artful Dodger, Tilting at Windmills, Counting Stars, Flying and Falling—how could I, an English major, resist wines with such allusive names?  I could not, especially since I was also quite happy with what was in the bottles.  Regan Meader, the owner and winemaker of Southold Farm + Cellar, loves to experiment, and doesn’t like to compromise.  He likes to make what he wants to make, and since the results are so good, let’s hope his experiments lead to his success.

That success seemed to be in doubt this past summer when, due to some issues with permits with the town of Southold, he wasn’t able to open his tasting room.  Fortunately all is settled now, and he used the time this summer to re-decorate the tasting room, located off a back road next to his house, on his farm.  His own grapes still were not quite ready to be used, so he sourced grapes from Osprey (where he used to work), Gristina, and other places.

Comfy couches are a nice addition to the tasting room.

Comfy couches are a nice addition to the tasting room.

We arrived on a cold, damp day to a warm welcome from Mr. Meader, with whom we discussed not only the wines, but also the traffic we encountered last weekend (mainly due to activities at Harbes), development on the North Fork, and literature.  After a while some additional people came in with kids in tow, so the room became quite lively as they settled on the comfy couches.  One couple had arrived on bicycles despite the weather, and we and Mr. Meader discussed various options for their next stops, including Horton’s Point Lighthouse and One Woman Winery.

A tasting of his four wines is $15.

s white

  1. 2014 Artful Dodger (Sauvignon Blanc)                   $26

Well, of course I had to ask why name a wine after a Dickens character.  Mr. M. and I discussed the Dodger’s character, how cheeky he is, and that moment when he is being hauled off to jail and berates the policemen for not knowing what a special gent he is.  This version of sauvignon blanc is also pretty special and a bit cheeky.  Unlike most local sauvignons, this is not steel fermented.  Instead, he uses neutral oak barrels which add just a touch of vanilla to the citrusy tangerine taste and a more textured mouth feel.  Good!  Of course this would be good with raw oysters, but could also complement something like oysters Rockefeller or you could just sip it, perhaps with a slice of brie.  We buy it, thinking about the local scallops sautéed with onions, red peppers, and local corn I’m planning to make for dinner.

Tilting at Windmills!

Tilting at Windmills!

  1. 2014 Tilting at Windmills (Old Vines Chardonnay) $26

Chardonnay can be such a pedestrian wine, so clichéd, so perhaps it is Quixotic to take it on and try to do something different with it.  The Man of La Mancha may have failed in his attempt to vanquish the windmill (a passage which had me laughing out loud when I read it), but Mr. M. is certainly not defeated.  “I was thinking of Chablis,” he says.  We smell mineral, asparagus and taste baked pear, minerals, with something a bit herby at the end.  There is a touch of sweetness but not too much.  He ferments it on the skins, again in neutral (i.e. old) oak barrels, achieving some nice texture.  Good!  I could see having it with duck, though usually with duck I want red or rosé.

  1. 2014 Counting Stars (Red Sparkling) $28

Having recently had an unfortunate encounter with a red sparkling wine at Sparkling Pointe (I dumped it!), I was a bit leery of this option, but no fear, this was lovely.  Made from 100% petit verdot, it has an aroma of dark fruits, then is tingly on the tongue.  Not sweet, it is light but not inconsequential, with a mineral aftertaste.  It would be perfect with charcuterie, or perhaps with a Thanksgiving turkey.  In the tasting notes, Mr. M. says he let petit verdot’s “freak flag fly.” His tasting notes are fun to read.  Oh, and the name?  The bubbles rising in the dark wine remind him of stars in the night sky.

The glass is a touch foggy from my attempts to warm the wine.

The glass is a touch foggy from my attempts to warm the wine.

  1. 2014 Flying and Falling (The Farm Cabernet Franc) $32

What’s the difference between flying and falling?  Hmmm.  This is 100% cabernet franc and spends seven months in oak.  Lots of aroma—we smell olives and chocolate and maraschino cherry.  The wine is a bit too cold—time to set up the heater, we agree—but as it warms we like it better.  At first it seemed as though it didn’t follow through with as much interest as the aroma would suggest, then it got better.  It might also benefit from more time, or from sitting longer in the glass.  At first we were afraid he had fallen, but he’s still flying.

Nothing like a short commute! This is where he lives.

Nothing like a short commute! This is where he lives.

Reasons to visit:  All four of his wines are worth tasting and thinking about; nice to get away from the usual places and be somewhere where the winemaker likes to experiment; Mr. Meader, who is fun to talk to, enthusiastic about his wine, and a really nice guy; pretty rustic little tasting room.

Regan Meader explaining his wines.

Regan Meader explaining his wines.

These grapes have been picked.

These grapes have been picked.

Pretty, isn't it? I took this photo from one of his menu cards!

Pretty, isn’t it? I took this photo from one of his menu cards!

One Woman Winery: Big on Dry Whites September 6, 2015

http://www.onewomanwines.com/

one sign

“Don’t you have any sweet wines?” the couple next to us in the tiny tasting shed asked, then left, disappointed.  Too bad for them, since if they had stayed they could have tasted some of the most interesting whites on the North Fork.  Actually, One Woman has had a dessert wine in the past, but they are all sold out.   Meanwhile we enjoyed our tasting, overseen by the same young man who waited on us last year, who not only remembered us, but remembered that we had bought some of the Grüner Veltliner!  Very impressive, both his memory and the wine.

One Woman is the labor of love of one woman, Claudia Purita, and it shows in the quality of the wines, all made from estate-grown grapes and bottled themselves.  The menu offers a choice of any two tastes for $6, three for $8, or four for $10, plus $4 each for the reserve wines.  As we hesitate over which to choose, our server suggests we could share one tasting of all the wines for $20, so we decide to do that.  Good choice.

This shot encompasses most of the tasting room.

This shot encompasses most of the tasting room.

The tasting room is tiny, augmented in warm weather by outdoor picnic tables and an outside bar area served through a rear window, so this is not a place to go with a group.  In fact, if you come with more than six people without a reservation they may turn you away.  We noticed some sandwiches for sale, as well as D’Latte gelato (made by Ms. Purita’s husband, and excellent), but not much else.  The focus here is on the wine.

The gelato freezer

The gelato freezer

  1. 2014 One Woman Rosé                                $22

As usual, we compare this rosé with Croteaux’s, and find it compares favorably, though perhaps it is less complex than their 314.  We smell roses and strawberries, taste red grapefruit and a touch of lemon at the end, with perhaps a hint of strawberry.  Nicely dry.

one sauv b

  1. 2014 One Woman Sauvignon Blanc $25

Stainless steel fermented, this has an aroma of tangelos, with some sweet fruity tastes yet a dry, lemony finish.  It would be perfect with oysters or clams, like the steamed clams with sausage I had the other night at Pepi’s.

  1. 2014 One Woman Tribute $23

What’s the story behind the name?  Originally this blend of equal amounts of all their white grapes—sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, chardonnay, and grüner veltliner—was produced to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the winery, and also as a tribute to Ms. Purita’s father, Domenico, who had inspired her to work on the land.  Then it was so popular they decided to add it to the regular line-up.  We inhale all sorts of aromas—gooseberry, Chuckles lemon candy, and more—and the taste is equally interesting and complex, with plenty of fruit but also dry.  I could see this with some grilled bluefish fillets.

Our two favorite wines!

Our two favorite wines!

  1. 2014 One Woman Grüner Veltliner $22

Though there is a rumor that another winery may be planning to offer a grüner, at the moment One Woman is the only place on the North Fork to grow this delicious grape.  Our server comments that one might compare it with a viognier.  We loved it last year, and still do.  Aromas of fresh hay, warm and grassy, then a taste of crisp tart melon, with perhaps some lime at the end.  I could see sipping this on the porch, with some Catapano goat cheese or all by itself.

  1. 2014 One Woman Gewürztraminer $25

What a different aroma this one has from the other whites, we comment:  pine, forest floor, lavender.  The taste is complex, with notes of lychee plus some nice minerality, the sweet fruit balanced by the minerality.  We like it, but we could see how some people might not, and our server confirms that this is a wine one either “loves or hates.”  It would be great with Indian or Thai food, suggests our server, and we agree.

  1. 2013 One Woman Chardonnay $25

This “crowd pleaser” is fermented partly in steel and partly in new French oak, so it is not too oaky.  With its aromas of butterscotch and vanilla it is a typical lightly oaked chard.

one chard

  1. 2012 One Woman Reserve Grüner Veltliner $32

So interesting to see what happens when two different grapes get a similar treatment.  Since this was also aged in French oak, you do get the butterscotch-vanilla scent, but the taste is different, with lots of citrus and mineral as well as the more melon-y tastes.  Really good.  This one is not usually in the tasting, we are told, but has been opened specially for Labor Day. Lucky us.

  1. 2011 One Woman Reserve Chardonnay                 $35

Buttered popcorn may or may not be a “wine word,” but that’s what we think of when we smell this one.  Although it spends 18 months in French oak, it is not too oaky, with complex tastes of citrus and butterscotch.  The aroma is a touch funky and sweet, but the taste is just delicious.  “It should get a prize,” opines my husband.

Assessing the merlot

Assessing the merlot

  1. 2012 One Woman Merlot $28

This is a fairly typical North Fork merlot, with spice and mineral aromas and plum tastes.  We note again that the barnyard odor so many of the reds used to have is no longer around.  I wonder why.

  1. 2008 One Woman Reserve Merlot $48

Though this merlot could not compete with a great red, it is quite good, and smells really nice, with some scents of chocolate.  “It’s at its peak right now,” opines our server.  He may be right.

Reasons to visit:  Cute little tasting shed; a bit off the beaten path, though it has gotten more popular in the last couple of years; all the whites, but especially the grüner veltliner and the gewürztraminer, of which we bought a bottle each; D’Latte gelato (which you can also get in Greenport).

The flower or twig decorations change every time we come.

The flower or twig decorations change every time we come.

A view of the tasting shed

A view of the tasting shed

one chard two

One Woman Winery August 5, 2013

http://www.onewomanwines.com/

Apparently, one woman is all it takes to make some terrific wines; at least, if that one woman is Claudia Purita, the woman behind One Woman Wines.  As her daughter proudly told us on a previous visit, Ms. Purita tends the vines by hand, picks the grapes, and makes the wine. The results are a pleasure to drink.  Oh, and she even picks and arranges the gorgeous bouquets of wildflowers that grace the tasting room.

Flowers in the tasting room

Flowers in the tasting room

We came to the winery this time on a breezy sunny Monday afternoon, when, until two other parties arrived, we were the only people in the tiny tasting room and on the only slightly larger deck area, where we drank our wines.  If you are in a party larger than six or in a limo, you’d better have a reservation!  The pleasant young women behind the bar were cheery and helpful, and guided us as we decided on what to pick from the menu of nine wines.  Tastings are $6 for two tastes, $8 for three, or $10 for four, plus there are three reserve wines one can try for $4 for one or $12 for all three.  Since there were four adults, we decided to share two tastings of four choices each, plus some reserves, while the two-year-old distraction ran races on the lawn. Because we were going back and forth between two tastings, the wines might not be in the absolute perfect tasting order.

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  1.  2011 One Woman Tribute                           $23

Created to mark Ms. Purita’s five-year anniversary as a winemaker, this is a blend of all their whites.  As a result, it has an unsurprisingly complicated aroma with peach and minerality dominating followed by a delicious taste that combines apricots (my favorite fruit) with a long citrusy finish.  Dry yet fruity, this is a wine one could happily sip by itself or pair with almost any food.   

2. 2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $25

Another goodie!  This one has a spicy aroma and flavor, with lots of lemon.  It would be great with oysters.  Very buyable.

3. 2011 Grüner Veltliner                                    $20

Hmmm…what’s that smell?  Eucalyptus!  This wine also has plenty of fruit, with a nice tartness that makes us think of gooseberries.  This is good, but…

4. 2012 Grüner Veltliner                                   $20

…the 2012 is even better.  Despite a slightly musty aroma under the eucalyptus, this is delicious, with a surprisingly sweet ending and a bit of a bubbly feeling on the tongue.  As this is the only Grüner on the North Fork, it is worth coming here just to taste it.

5. 2011 Gewürztraminer                                   $23

We smell pineapple and mango, then find the taste surprisingly dry, though with lots of tropical fruit.  This one is rather delicate, so you’d want to pair it with a dish that wouldn’t be overwhelmed by it.  Maybe scallops?

6. 2012 Gewürztraminer                                    $23

As the servers noted, the 2012s are more flavorful than the 2011s, and that holds true for both the Gewürztraminer and the Grüner.  Aromas and tastes of pineapple, and also spice and honey make this our favorite of the day, and we buy some to take home, thinking of Peconic Bay scallops on the barbecue.

7. 2012 Chardonnay                                             $20

This is our least favorite of the day, a half oaked, half steel fermented chard with some vanilla and pine sap aromas and some oak and tropical fruit flavors.

The deck

The deck

8. 2012 Rosé                                                            $19

We get the usual notes of strawberry, with perhaps, as they say, some pomegranate.  This is a dry, merlot-based rosé, with some earthiness and funkiness, though ultimately it is refreshing.

9. 2008 Estate Reserve Merlot                                        $48

Lots of aromas to this wine, including wet forest and cinnamon. We taste spice and dark fruit, and all agree that it is an excellent merlot with all sorts of interesting flavors.  This is part of the Reserve tasting, as are the next two.

10. 2010 Estate Reserve Chardonnay                              $38

Again, not a favorite.  It has that cat pee smell some wines seem to get, and is too oaky for our taste, with lots of butterscotch.

11.  2010 Dessert Wine                                                          $39

Smells like the Gewürztraminer.  It is sweet, but not just sweet, with some nice structure.

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If you are counting, you will realize we skipped one wine—the sparkling wine.  Perhaps next time we’ll try that.  Meanwhile we buy the Gewürztraminer and the Sauvignon Blanc, and as a result the tastings of the standard wines, but not the reserves, are free.  We also almost bought some gelato on sale in the tasting room, before we remembered that we had a Briermere pie for dessert.  Gelato?  Not surprising when you know that her husband owns D’Latte in Greenport.   Later that night we have Peconic Bay scallops, barbecued on skewers with plum tomatoes and zucchini, along with roasted new potatoes and corn and sautéed zucchini, and the Gewürztraminer goes perfectly with it all.

Reasons to visit:  you would like to drink some excellent white wines; you like peace and quiet among the vines (though they do have some evening events which might be livelier); you want to try Grüner Veltliner on Long Island; you like a nice dry Gewürztraminer; the Sauvignon Blanc.

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