Castello di Borghese: A Perfect Pairing     July 8, 2017

https://castellodiborghese.com/

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The Harvest Moon Shellfish Company truck is a sign that you should stop by Castello di Borghese for some oysters and wine.

I headlined this entry “A Perfect Pairing,” thinking about the Harvest Moon oysters we had with the Borghese 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, but it could also apply to the couple we went there with—our son and daughter-in-law.  We all enjoyed the oysters, which are on offer every weekend until October 1, for $28 a dozen, and the wine, which went perfectly with them.  The oysters were small, but sweet and briny and creamy, and the lemon in the wine complemented them beautifully.  It was a perfect July day, and we were happy to sit outside near the vines and enjoy our bottle of wine and plates of oysters.  Unfortunately, they don’t do tastings outside, so we had to go in when we decided we wanted to do a tasting as well.  (I also would urge the winery to install an attractive fence to screen the hose, etc., along the wall of the building.)

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A view of the outside seating area.

When we went in to examine the tasting menu, we found two options:  five Estate wines for $15, or five Reserve wines for $25.  We decided each couple would share one of each, so we could taste most of their wines, though we did miss a few.  Our server was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, happy to share both what he knew and what he liked about each wine.  The tasting room is about medium in size, with a bar along one wall and barrels with tops one can stand around on the other, so if you want to sit for a tasting this is not your place.  Also, they don’t allow outside food (at least at the moment, when they are featuring the oysters).  This is a winery which takes its wine very seriously, and is happy when visitors do the same. After all, the Borgheses bought the vineyard from the Hargraves, who were the first to plant a vineyard on the North Fork, back in 1973.  The Estate wines are marked with an *.

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The expert shucker from Harvest Moon.

  1. .* 2015 Chardonnay $18

A good place to begin a tasting is this steel fermented chardonnay which is so light and lemony you might mistake it for a sauvignon blanc.  We smelled mineral and peach and toast aromas and one of us suggested it tasted like star fruit.  Our daughter-in-law, who is thoughtful about food and wine pairings, thought it would go well with Greek food or a corn salad.  We agreed.

  1. 2016 Founder’s Field Sauvignon Blanc $29

This is not the Sauvignon Blanc we had with our oysters—that one is cheaper and we actually liked it better.  This one is fermented half in oak and half in steel.  It is light and dry, with some citrus and melon tastes and a long finish.  “Blue cheese,” we agreed, would go well with it.

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  1. .*2014 Riesling $26

Not unexpectedly, this smells like flowers and cat pee.  Though our server described it as “off dry,” we all found it too sweet for our taste.  Our son and daughter-in-law said it tasted just like “sweet lime,” which I’ve never had, but I trust their taste buds, and thought it could pair well with watermelon juice and tequila in a margarita-type cocktail.

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  1. 2014 Pinot Noir Select $50

We switched to the reds on the Reserve list, as there were no other whites we wanted to try and they have quite a few reds.  The aroma is nice, of dark fruits, and the taste is also pleasant, with some notes of black pepper as well as plums.  It reminded us a bit of a Chianti, and so we thought it would go well with pasta.

  1. .*Rosé Pinot Noir $20

At the urging of our server, our tasting companions sampled this rosé (we had been given a sip of another one as we were trying to choose a wine to go with our oysters).  However, they were “not excited” about it.  Steel fermented, this is an uncomplicated dry rosé, with a taste of macerated strawberry that, I said, “evanesces.”   We then began to apply that word to all sorts of things.

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  1. 2015 Merlot Reserve $36

We found lots of aromas in this one—spice, pomegranate, charred wood, prunes, and, believe it or not, barbequed chicken were some of our comments.  So then of course we decided it would pair well with barbequed chicken, one with a fruity sauce.  Nice finish.

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  1. .*2014 Cabernet Franc $35

Good one!  With aromas of prune plum and cedar, and tastes of blueberry and spice, this one got us thinking of food pairings again.  We thought lamb chops, and then our daughter-in-law offered flank steak with chimichurri sauce or spiced chick peas (for vegetarians).  Also good ideas.

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  1. .*2015 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon $25

A Bordeaux-style blend of 53% merlot, 44% cabernet sauvignon, and 3% pinot noir, this is, according to our server, a very popular wine.  We can see why.  The aroma is earthy and herbal, with scents of chestnuts and fruit, and the taste is equally appealing, with lots of fruit, and just the right amount of dryness.  Food pairing?  How about spaghetti with mussels in a tomato sauce.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

You can definitely smell that this was aged in oak, with its cedar/oak aroma, plus fruit, spice, and something funky like mushrooms.  I decide it is mouth-watering.  It has lots of flavor, with dark fruits, and would go well with duck.

  1. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $44

Our server now gets into the whole food pairing thing we’ve been doing, and suggests this would go well with “a porterhouse on the grill.”  We talk it over, and once again our daughter-in-law has the perfect pairing idea—hamburger with truffle fries.  One of us compares the aroma to “dusty closet.”  Not sure about that.  However, this is another pleasant red, with nice fruit, though not very complex.

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The winery also has an art gallery.

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The art in the gallery.

Reasons to visit:  a place to get serious about wine; oysters from Harvest moon until October 1; the winery also has an art gallery where you can view and buy local art; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Noir Select, the Cabernet Franc, the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, the Cabernet Franc Reserve.

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Croteaux Vineyards: Easy to Drink   Rosés           June 9, 2017

http://www.croteaux.com/

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The very first time we went to Croteaux we fell in love with the beautiful garden and its comfortable seats and the refreshing, easy to drink rosé wines.  In fact, we liked them so much that we bought a case, and then discovered we had joined their “case club.”  Now it’s our favorite wine club as well, and we start every summer season by buying a case. In addition to the reduction in price that is pretty standard at any winery for buying a case, you can also come to the winery and have a free tasting.  Then, several times a year, they invite you to special events.  The most recent one included oysters and glasses of rosé, with apparently no limit on either.  Oh my.

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The view from our table out to the vineyard.

However, I don’t recommend going to Croteaux unless the weather is right for sitting outside, since their inside accommodations are not nearly as nice as the outside ones.  Fortunately, June finally brought us a beautiful sunny day, with a slight breeze making the weather perfect for visiting the garden.  We decided to sample all their wares, and so had a tasting of their six still rosés, for $15, and their three sparkling rosés, also $15.  Feeling the need for a little snack, we ordered the artichoke tapenade with croutons (French bread toasted and brushed with garlic, herbs, and olive oil) for $10.  In the past, we’ve had their goat cheese basket and the roasted nuts, both of which are good.  The artichoke tapenade was quite nice, a combination of artichoke, olives, lemon, and herbs.  The baskets all came garnished with a sprig of mint “from the owners’ garden.  The mint went crazy so they decided to add it to all the baskets,” explained our lovely server.  (They have a sign saying no outside food.)  One other note—they allow dogs on the leash, and every time we’ve come we’ve seen at least one or two canine visitors.

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Today’s pooch is in the background of this photo. Note the nice comfy Adirondack chairs.

  1. Merlot 181 Rosé            $19

The particular clone of merlot is what gives this wine and the next two their names.  This is, as you would expect for the first taste, their lightest rosé, almost white in color, with a slight mineral aroma and a tart citrusy taste and a slightly sweet finish.  “You could drink a lot of this and never notice—until you fell over,” opined my tasting pal.  When we came for the oysters this was one of the wines we had, and it went very well with them.

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Our first three tastes. Note the differences in color!

  1. Merlot 314 Rosé $19

Our favorite this year—we bought a case of it—this one has more character than the 181, with a slight chemical aroma and a tart taste that combines strawberries and citrus.  My husband adds that he tastes a bit of pear, too.  It would work well to sip on its own, nicely chilled, and would also go well with lots of different foods.

  1. Merlot 3 $19

A blend of 181, 314, and 3, this one reminds us more of a white wine than a rosé, with lots of tart citrusy tastes.  Sort of like a sauvignon blanc, but without the pineapple tastes that wine often has.  The color is a pretty pink, and the smell has a bit of something funky as well as minerality.

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The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Sauvage 181 Rosé $24

“Sauvage” is French for wild, as this wine is made with wild yeasts, which means it can vary quite a bit from year to year.  This year is a winner.  More interesting than your average rosé, this is mouth-watering (which I insist means it has some tannins), with a taste that combines fruit salad and lime and an aroma of pineapple and guava.  If we had decided to get the newest item on their menu—mini lobster rolls from American Beech—I would have gotten a glass of this to go with it.  Well, the summer is just getting started.  We may have to come back…

  1. Chloe Sauvignon Blanc Rosé $24

The menu describes this as a “white wine lover’s rosé,” and I can see why.  Made with sauvignon blanc plus a little cabernet franc (“for color”), this is another yummy wine, with aromas of pine forest and citrus plus peach tastes.  Delicate, it would be fine to sip on its own, or paired with a light white fish like sole.

  1. Jolie Cabernet Franc Rosé $24

Described as a French Bordeaux, “for red wine lovers,” this is my least favorite of the day.  It’s the sweetest of the rosés, though there is some minerality to balance the sweetness, with a red candy aroma.  We get the tapenade as we’re still sampling this, and I like it better with food.

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Tapenade.

  1. Cuvée Sparkle $29

Now we move on to the sparkling wines, which come in tall slim glasses, held in a metal carrier.  I would put all three of them in the “fun” wine category, as they are not overly expensive for sparkling wines and are all easy to drink.  The first is a blend of their three merlot clones and smells like them, of minerals with a bit of strawberry. Tart and refreshing and very bubbly, this is a sparkler I would choose, though my husband notes that not everyone would like it.  If you are looking for a sweet rosé sparkler, this would not be for you.

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The bubblies. We had already tried the first one before I remembered to snap a photo.

  1. Chloe Sparkle $29

Like the still Chloe, this is made from sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc grapes, and is quite different from the Cuvée.  The aroma has, in addition to the expected smells, something vegetal about it, maybe a cruciferous veggie.  The taste is more complex than the Cuvée, a touch sweeter, and would go perfectly with a tray of charcuterie.

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Jolie means pretty, and indeed this is a pretty color.

  1. Jolie Sparkle $29

Pretty color!  More like what people expect from a rosé sparkler, this is the sweetest wine of the day, so you should not be surprised to hear that I didn’t care for it.  However, my tasting partner thinks “people would like it.”  The aroma combines red candy, strawberry, and a funky forest smell.  I compare the taste to watermelon.

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Reasons to visit:  the garden!!!; the only winery that only makes rosés; the best rosés on the North Fork, especially the 314, the Sauvage 181, and the Chloe Sparkle;  prices; good snacks; the garden, the garden, the garden.

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Roses and then  rosés .

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Kontokosta Winery: Sounds Good to Me January 17, 2016

http://kontokostawinery.com/

Windows line the walls of the tasting room.

Windows line the walls of the tasting room.

It was time to revisit Kontokosta Winery, with its lovely location overlooking the Long Island Sound, and we found the perfect reason to go there.  We recently learned that old friends of ours had bought a house near Greenport, but, what with work on the house and not much time for other activities, had yet to visit a winery.  Well, we said, it is high time to remedy that situation, and they were happy to go with Nofowineaux to a winery so close to their house.

Proving that you can’t rely on last year’s review, a major change in the menu switched the Anemometer white and red from their least expensive wines to their priciest—and they weren’t even on the regular tasting menu, but needed a supplement of $5 each to taste.  So I can’t tell you if they’re worth it, but many of the other wines are.

Our server was proud to point out that they had won some gold medals.

Our server was proud to point out that they had won some gold medals.

The menu offers five whites for $15 or four reds for $15, so we opted to share one of each, and our friends chose to follow our lead.  Since it is a carefully metered one-ounce pour, that was fine.  They also have a menu of snacks and sweets and non-alcoholic drinks (called “Sound Bites,” a play on their location and their motto of “Sound Wines”), and forbid outside foods.

The tasting room is a high-ceilinged large space, with tables and a bar, where we opted to stand.  Considering it is January, we were impressed by how many people were there, but it was a three-day weekend.  Our server did a good job of keeping track of where we were in our tasting, and, as she saw our seriousness, began to give us more information on each wine.

A few gift items, including olive oil, are offered.

A few gift items, including olive oil, are offered.

  1. 2014 Orient Chardonnay              $22

Like many North Fork tastings, this one began with their steel-fermented chardonnay, which our friend compared to a “non-sweet Limoncello.”  Not a bad comparison, since this had plenty of lemon flavor and aroma, plus some nice minerality, and maybe even a salty tang.  Good.

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  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $25

As we sniffed the aroma of mango and citrus, one of our friends compared it to “Joe Malone perfume.”  Not being familiar, I can’t confirm or deny this, but the wine does have a lovely flowery scent.  The taste is equally pleasant, with good grapefruit and pineapple and other tropical fruits, plus mouth-watering acidity.  When we comment that this would be good with oysters, a discussion of North Fork oysters and where to get them ensues.  When the Old Mill Inn re-opens in the spring, we’ll have to meet there for their happy hour oysters.

  1. 2014 Viognier $25

Getting into the spirit of commenting on each wine, our friends describe the viognier as “more restrained and less dramatic” than the first two wines, and we agree.  The aroma is a bit sweet, with some mineral or rock and maybe a spice.  Cinnamon?  Nutmeg?  We can’t decide.  But this is another very drinkable wine, again on the tart, dry side, and would be good with creamy clam chowder.

  1. 2014 Field Blend $22

63% viognier and 37% sauvignon blanc.  Why?  Because they had that much of each left over last year, and only one vat in which to ferment them!  Nice to be able to drink your experiments, though we don’t like this as much as the previous wines.  It is quite light, and smells just like the viognier.

  1. 2014 Riesling $22

Dry!  Just .2% residual sugar, says our server, and we believe her.  It tastes more like a sauvignon blanc than their sauvignon blanc, very tart, with lots of acidity.  If you like a fruity somewhat sweet riesling, or even if you are thinking of a riesling to complement spicy food, this is not it.

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  1. 2008 Blum Merlot $19

A year ago we had the 07 Blum Merlot, and was told this was the last of it, but I guess they had one more year of these vines before Ray Blum’s vineyard was sold to Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines.  The aroma has lots of sweet cherry in it, and none of the barnyard which we detected in the 07.  Our friend thinks there’s a bit of a whiff of creosote, which is possibly from the French oak it was aged in.  It tastes less fruity than it smells, with some woody notes but no vanilla.  We get new glasses for the reds, by the way.

  1. 2013 Estate Merlot $34

We like this merlot much better, and all agree that we taste and smell lots of blackberry, plus minerals and flowers.  “Easy on the tongue,” opines our friend.  That may be the tannins, since the end taste is quite dry.  This one is aged in Hungarian oak, as are the rest of the reds.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

As our server pours this, she brings out another bottle and two fresh glasses and pours us another wine, the 2012 Cab Sauv (about which more in a moment).  Our friends are impressed with what I call the power of the book.  Often, when wineries see you are serious about the wine, they give you a little something extra.  Sometimes it is another taste of a wine not on the menu, or other times just some extra attention and more stories about the making of the wine.  I appreciate both.  We like this one, as it has lots of rich fruit flavors and aromas but is still pleasantly dry.

Our special extra taste!

Our special extra taste!

  1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

I should really label this 8A, since it is an “extra.”  Our server explains that she thinks we should try this, as there are only a few cases left, and she thinks it is really excellent.  She’s right.  It is similar to the ’13, but mellower and smoother and fruitier.  We buy a bottle.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $40

“Hmmm,” muses our friend, “I think I detect a note of Robitussin.”  Ha ha.  But it does taste of dark fruits, perhaps plums, again with some nice minerality and some promising tannins.  We get into a discussion of the meaning of “terroir,” and wonder if Kontokosta’s wines have more minerality than some others because of their location on the Sound, which we can see out of the windows.

Yes, that is the Long Island Sound in the background.

Yes, that is the Long Island Sound in the background.

Reasons to visit:  you are in or near Greenport and don’t want to travel too far; almost all of the wines, but especially the Orient Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Estate Merlot, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (but hurry before they sell out); the location on the Sound (maybe some time we’ll get there in the warm weather so we can stroll towards the water).

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The day was cold and grey, with the first snow of the season, but the welcome was warm.

The day was cold and grey, with the first snow of the season, but the welcome was warm.

Paumanok: A Bit of a French Accent 8/29/15

https://www.paumanok.com/

Watch for the oyster sign!

Watch for the oyster sign!

“We have the only chenin blanc in New York State,” asserts our server, so we are interested to taste the wine made from this French grape.   But more about that later.  On this beautiful late summer afternoon, the outside deck is filled with small groups enjoying the weather and Paumanok’s menu of raw oysters ($25 for a dozen) or large variety of cheese or charcuterie plates from Catapano goat farm and Lombardi’s Market.

Most people elected to sit outside on this beautiful day.

Most people elected to sit outside on this beautiful day.

The tasting room is small, but we manage to find room at the bar where we assess our choices.  The tasting menu lists nine options, from one taste of their sparkling wine to four whites or four reds for $12 each flight.  We opt to share one of each, but that still does not get us tastes of all their wines, in particular most of the Festival line.  Maybe next year.  The sign outside says “Winery of the Year,” but I’m not sure what that is based on.  However, it is a pleasant place, especially in the good weather when you can sit outside; the wines, while none of them send us into outer space, are fine; and I have to favor a place that quotes Walt Whitman on their labels (Walt, born on Long Island, liked to use the Native American name for Long Island—Paumanok—in his poetry.).  The gift area has a small selection of t-shirts and other gift items, but no volumes of Whitman’s poems!

The menu of tastings

The menu of tastings

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc                    $24

If we had decided to have oysters, this is the wine I would have chosen to have with them.  The aroma is grassy and minerally, the taste tart and lemony with some tropical fruit notes.  Excellent.

Our first two tastes

Our first two tastes

  1. 2014 Chenin Blanc $28

I suppose because the bar is crowded, our server pours our tastes two at a time, which is good, because the wines are too cold, so our deliberate style of tasting—sniff, discuss, take notes, swirl, taste, discuss, take more notes—gives them time to warm up a bit. This is also a pleasant wine, a touch sweeter than the Sauvignon Blanc, with not much smell.  We decide we taste some sweet orange, perhaps tangelo.  A nice light summer wine, and you wouldn’t want to pair it with any food that was too assertive, as it would get lost.

A good oaked chardonnay if you don't like oaked chardonnays.

A good oaked chardonnay if you don’t like oaked chardonnays.

  1. 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $24

Our charmingly French-accented server points out that they have a steel-fermented chard on the Festival list, as we discuss the differences between steel versus oak and what we like about each.  We also notice that almost all the wines have screw caps, a boon to the corkscrew-use-challenged.  This is not overly oaky, with a toasty aroma and some vanilla taste, but not too sweet.  “A crowd pleaser,” we decide.  I think it would pair well with shrimp.

The riesling about which we disagreed.

The riesling about which we disagreed.

  1. 2014 Dry Riesling $22

My husband, a riesling fan, doesn’t particularly care for this one, which he finds not “riesling enough.”  I like it.  It has a bit of that cat pee aroma, plus some apple.  Our server says it has green apple tastes, and we agree, and would add a touch of Key lime citrus.  Simple and refreshing, this is a good riesling if you are not particularly a riesling fan.

  1. 2014 Semi-Dry Riesling $20

If you are counting, you realize that this is our fifth out of four white wine tastes, which we get courtesy of our server who, noticing our seriousness, wants us to try a different style of riesling and gives us a small sample of a wine from a different flight.  This is fairly sweet, almost candy-like, also relatively simple, and not to our taste—but it might go well with Thai food.

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  1. 2012 Festival Red $20

The label says this “should be enjoyed with red meat,” but I would say not too red.  Maybe pork chops or veal or a cheese plate, as it would not stand up to a big steak.  A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon and 48% merlot, this has a slightly piney aroma and is quite drinkable.  It is mellow, not complex, with a touch of tannin.  “I get a tingle on my tongue,” says my drinking pal.

  1. 2012 Merlot $24

Eh.  No aroma, not much taste,rather underwhelming.  Pischochs, I say, which my husband says I can’t use in a review.  It’s a Yiddish term meaning…watery.

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  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $30

One of the servers gives us some more information on this wine, noting that 2013 was a very good year, and that this wine, a combination of mostly cabernet franc with “a touch of merlot,” drinks more like a pinot noir than a cab.  I would agree.  It is another nice wine, with a bit of a funky and blackberry smell and cherry and berry taste.  It’s not powerful, though it has some depth.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $30

Our server, who reveals she is from Toulouse, is pleased when we note that this is actually a Bordeaux blend, a mixture of 16% merlot, 2% petit verdot, and 86% cabernet sauvignon.  After she steps away we add to each other “Bordeaux light.”  Aromas of cherry, oak and red candy; tastes of red fruit, maybe plums, pleasantly dry.  Not a serious wine, we decide, but like almost all the wines we tried, fine.

At this point, we notice that there is no tip jar, which is too bad, since we would definitely have left a nice tip.  If we had elected to buy four bottles the cost of one tasting would have been deducted from the total, but we decide we don’t want any of the wines enough to buy four bottles.  However, there is nothing wrong with any of them (except that merlot!), so I wouldn’t cross this winery off your list if you were planning a visit.  It is particularly a good place to sit outside and get one of their food items with a glass of wine.  I’d recommend the Sauvignon Blanc with oysters or the Festival Red or Cabernet Sauvignon with a cheese or charcuterie plate.

I love that they quote Walt Whitman on the label!

I love that they quote Walt Whitman on the label!

Reasons to visit:  the Sauvignon Blanc, the only Chenin Blanc in New York State, the Festival Red, the Cabernet Sauvignon; a nice outside deck where you can enjoy their cheese or charcuterie or oysters with a glass of wine; labels that quote Walt Whitman.

One view of the outside deck.

One view of the outside deck.

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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. 

Paumanok Winery October 27, 2012

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http://www.paumanok.com/

“Blow, blow sea winds along Paumanock’s shores/I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me!”–Walt Whitman

Who knew that our visit to the Paumanok tasting room a day before hurricane Sandy would come to seem so prophetic, since as we arrived there I quoted the above lines from a poem by Whitman about a lovelorn seagull.  He liked to use the old Native American name for Long Island, and so, apparently, does this vineyard.

Paumanok had somewhat fallen off our radar because it is not included in a map of the wineries  published by a wine growers association.  According to our well-informed and intelligent server, some years they choose to join, and some they don’t.  In any event, their Festival Red had been mentioned in an article on $20 wines by Eric Asimov, so we decided to check them out.

The tasting room is a pleasant, barn-like space, with a tasting bar that could be bigger and a large patio area outside. They offer four different tasting options (aside, of course, from the usual by the glass or bottle prices):  Festival Flight, $8 for 4 (mixed red and white); Paumanok White, $9 for 3; Paumanok Red, $12 for 3; or Grand Vintage, $15 for 4.  We opted for one Festival and one Grand Vintage flight, and our server re-arranged the order of the wines to maximize the correct tasting order.

1.  2011 Festival Chardonnay          $16.99

This is a light “spritzy” white, with lovely green apple or pear blossom aromas and tastes of pears and minerals.  Nicely tart.

2.  2011 Semi-Dry Riesling          $19.99   AND 2011 Dry Riesling  $22 (not actually on on the tasting, but she gives it to us so we can compare)

Hmmm…the aroma of the semi-dry reminds us of some goldenrod honey friends of our made, and so does the taste.  Pleasant, but we prefer the dry one.

How interesting that the same grape can give such different results!  The Dry Riesling has an aroma of lemon-lime, with lots of flavors, some flower, some gooseberry.  Excellent and very buyable!

3.  2011 Dry Rose          $17.99

They blend all four of their reds–merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot–for this pleasant rose.  The aroma reminds us of wet grout (Next time you repair your bathroom tiles, see what you think of that smell.), and there is the typical strawberry taste of a rose.

4.  2011 Festival Red          $19.99

This is a blend of the same four reds, and is the one mentioned in the Asimov article (as our server also points out).  Well, we agree–this is a very buyable and good red, with blackberry and some spice flavor, with some tannin.  It reminds us of another everyday red we like, Red Rooster from Old Field.

5.  2010 Assemblage          $50

This, clearly, is from the Grand Vintage tasting, and is very good, but not worth the price.  It is a blend, with 21% petit verdot, so it is a fairly big red.  Perhaps with time…?

6.  2010 Cabernet Franc Grand Vintage          $45

Interestingly, the aroma of this one once again reminds us of goldenrod honey.  The taste, however, is of cherry, with some woody notes, and is very fresh.  Our server notes that it will age well.  Good.

7.  05 Cabernet Sauvignon Tuthills Lane Vineyard         $60

They have three different parcels of land (of about 30 acres each), so this one is named for the particular place where the vines are grown.  The aroma is cherry and mineral, and the wine is dry but soft, with some lovely fruit flavors.  We are informed that Robert Parker gave it a 90, and the quote from him is almost delirious.  Perhaps he got a bit carried away?

8.  07 Merlot Tuthills Lane Vineyard          $60

Not much aroma to this one, with some fruit/berry taste and some wood.  Parker (according to the tasting menu) described the taste as “cherry pit” and gave it a 92.  Not sure why.

But wait, there’s more!  Out on the patio, in the calm before the storm, they are selling platters of oysters, $20 for a dozen.  So we buy two glasses of the Dry Riesling ($6 each) and pay for a plate of oysters and enjoy the late October sun on the patio as we gaze out at the vineyard. The oysters are wonderful–essence of ocean!  Too good to even need a squirt of lemon, they are fresh and brimming with liquid, and come, we are told, from Peconic Bay right near Southold.  The wine goes perfectly with them, and I decide this is a great way to start celebrating my birthday (which I will continue that evening with dinner at Noah’s in Greenport).

Reasons to visit:  Pleasant tasting room with well-informed servers (and buses and limos by appointment only); Festival Red, Dry Riesling; oysters if they have them.