Palmer Vineyards: Sold! August 10, 2018

Palmer Vineyards:  Sold!              August 10, 2018

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This is the building with the tasting room, not to be confused with the first building you come to, which is the wine-making facility.

https://www.palmervineyards.com/#established-1983

The big news locally for those who are interested in wineries was that Paumanok Vineyards bought Palmer Vineyards.  My review will apply to the wines for the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the future brought some changes.  According to one article I read, Paumanok’s winemaker will take over at Palmer.  It will be interesting to return in a couple of years to see how they’re doing.

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Meanwhile, this was our first visit to Palmer since 2016, since a couple of times we stopped by and found the place too noisy and crowded for our comfort.  So we decided to try a Friday afternoon, and found we had the place to ourselves, aside from a few people out on the covered porch area. The last time we came we sat out there, since we were with relatives who had brought their dog with them, and we also shared a cheese platter.  We didn’t get one this time, but do note that they do not allow outside food.

After discussing the menu with the manager and each other, we decided to share two tastings, one of the whites and one of the reds, and settled into a booth.  We enjoy the décor at Palmer, which reminds us of our favorite British pubs, with cozy booths and old signs.  We only wish we liked the wines better.  They are all drinkable, but only one was a standout as far as I’m concerned.  The menu offers three options, all for four wines for $16 to $18.  My husband characterized the pour as “micro”:  each taste was just that, about two sips per person.

  1. 2016 Viognier                 $24.99

Only a few North Fork wineries offer viognier, which is too bad, as I tend to like wines made from this grape.  This one is dry, with an aroma of baked pear, and some nice fruit tastes plus minerality.  The menu says it tastes like quince.  Maybe.

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Small pour!

  1. 2016 Aromatico            $24.99

Often when a wine has a name other than the varietal it is a blend, and that is true of this one, which the manager tells me is, he thinks, 60% muscat and 40% malvasia.  Steel fermented.  When I hear muscat I wonder whether it will be sweet, but this one is not.  It’s fairly interesting, not your average Long Island white, with, according to my tasting pal, “lots of body for a white.”  There’s a taste of gooseberries and a tanginess to it that would make it a good match for the scallops we picked up earlier at Braun’s.

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  1. 2016 Gewürztraminer $23.99

Uh-oh.  The manager describes this as “semi-sweet.”  Too sweet for us!  It smells like honey and nutmeg, but actually doesn’t have much flavor.  There’s a trace of a chemical flavor I dislike, and we dump the last little bit of the small taste.

  1. 2017 Sparkling Rouge Rosé $21.99

He pours this from a partly used bottle with one of those champagne re-sealing corks in it, and at the end I ask him if perhaps it had lost its sparkle by the time he poured our taste.  No, he replies, it’s just not a very bubbly sparkler.  My husband says it has NDA—no detectable aroma.  Not even the strawberry one would expect from a rosé.  It is at least dry, but if you want a sparkling rosé I suggest you seek out Croteaux’s.  Vintage liquor store in the Mattituck shopping center carries all of their wines now.

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Not very sparkling and not very rose.

  1. 2015 Merlot (No price on the menu, but the 2014 is $24.99.)

As I told my brother the last time we were here, merlot is the Ford of North Fork reds, the reliable grapes that almost everyone grows (despite the opprobrium they got in the movie Sideways).  As expected, it has a cherry aroma and flavor, plus maybe some purple plum.  Dry, with faint tannins and a short finish, it is aged twelve months in French oak.  You could have this with lamb chops, or even roast chicken, but it would not stand up to a steak.

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  1. 2013 Old Roots Merlot $34.99

Why Old Roots?  Not surprisingly, because these grapes come from the oldest vines on the property, dating back thirty-five years.  The grapes are hand harvested, and aged for eighteen months, leading to a slightly more intense merlot experience than the previous taste.  Lots of cherry flavor, but no depth, is our verdict.  Maybe you could have it with grilled sausages, like the ones 8 Hands Farm makes.

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  1. 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon $28.99

According to the menu, the tastes for this include “subtle cigar box.”  Not sure what that is, but there is a smokiness to the aroma.  Not complex, it has lots of fruit flavor and is pleasant enough to be a wine one could sip as an aperitif.

 

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $28.99

The previous wine is aged for twelve months, while this one ages for eighteen, and it is more complex.  The aroma includes fruit and tobacco, and we taste plums and other dark fruits.  Not much tannin.  I remember a dish I used to make, of tongue in a pickle sauce, and think this would go with that.

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A glimpse of the covered porch. We decided to stay in the air conditioning!

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room which looks like an English pub, plus a wide covered porch for outside tastings; the Aromatico and the Cabernet Franc; they serve pitchers of water if you ask; dogs are allowed outside.  Note—the first building you come to is a “self-guided” tour of the winemaking facility, so pull around to the back for the tasting room.

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This is the first building you see, but the tasting room is around the back.

Palmer Vineyards: Fun Hanging Out August 20, 2016

http://www.palmervineyards.com/

The entrance to Palmer's tasting room is in the second building on their property.

The entrance to Palmer’s tasting room is in the second building on their property.

Our plans for a garden-setting wine tasting having been scuttled by a completely un-forecast deluge, we decided to head to Palmer Vineyards, which has a cozy tasting room with pub-like booths and an expansive covered veranda.  We settled on the veranda where, our guests were happy to learn, their very well-behaved dog was welcome to join us.  When a singer/guitarist with a folksy sixties-ish repertoire began to play, we settled in for a relaxing afternoon.

We enjoyed his performance.

We enjoyed his performance.

The tasting menu offers four different flights, ranging from $15-$18 for four tastes each.  We (three couples) decided each couple would share first a flight of whites and then a flight of reds.  We gave the flights labeled “Sweet” and “Steel vs. Oak” a pass.  Maybe next time.  They also have a couple of local beers on tap, plus coffee.  My cousin bought a $16 “charcuterie platter” for the table, which was fine but rather meager for the six of us, consisting of a few slices of two different sausages and I believe two different cheeses, plus Carr’s Water Crackers and a few other odds and ends.  Since they don’t allow outside food, I think they could do a better job with their edible offerings.  We didn’t try the “brick oven pizza.”  However, we had an enjoyable afternoon tasting the wines, listening to the music, and chatting about everything.

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The "charcuterie platter" and some whites.

The “charcuterie platter” and some whites.

  1. 2015 Albariῆo   $27.99

The server informs my brother that they are the only vineyard on the North Fork to use this grape, and he may be right.  Albariῆo is one of my go-to wines when I order just a glass of wine, as it is generally fairly dry with good fruit tastes, and this is no exception.  Although there is some disagreement around the table, I find it delicious, with a touch of lemon at the end and tastes of apricot and apple.  It smells like honeysuckle, peach, and minerals.  Having it with a bite of cheese helps smooth out the sourness of the citrus at the end.

  1. 2015 Sauvignon Blanc $24.99

“Great nose,” opines my brother.  “It smells like lantana flower,” says my sister-in-law.  I don’t know what that smells like, unfortunately, but there is definitely a flowery aroma.  The taste is rather orange-y, perhaps like a minneola.  “Just lovely,” says my Canadian cousin-in-law.  “It’s got some strength to it,” says my cousin.  We all agree that this has the best balance of any of the whites, and would be good to sip by itself or with the scallop ceviche my brother and sister-in-law intend to make for dinner.

The bar on the veranda

The bar on the veranda

  1. 2014 Viognier $24.99

Our server (we send a representative to the bar to pick up each round) thinks they are also the only ones to use this grape on the North Fork, but I happen to know at least four or five other vineyards use it.  In any event, this is not a crowd pleaser.  “Not a lot of character on the nose,” asserts my brother.   I smell minerality and not much else.  This is a light dry wine, with some earthiness.  We discuss whether it would be good with the oysters we also plan to pick up, but decide maybe not.

  1. 2015 Pinot Blanc $21.99

We all smell and taste pineapple this time.  Someone smells vanilla, and someone else says the smell is “earthy.”  “Not integrated,” says my brother.  I think it would be better with food, and take a bite of sausage.  Yes, that does improve it.  However, the overall opinion of the whites is “fine, but no home runs.”

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  1. 2014 Syrah $24.99

Syrah is my other wine-by-the-glass standby, and this one is an acceptable version, though not my favorite.  I like syrahs to be bigger and bolder, and this one is a touch thin.  It may need more time to age.  The aroma is sweet, almost like a sherry.  The server told my brother that this spends two years in oak, and they add a bit of viognier to “lighten it up.”  It is lighter than most syrahs, with almost no finish.  You wouldn’t want it with steak, but it might be nice with some Crescent Farms duck breast.

The indoor space is particularly nice in the winter.

The indoor space is particularly nice in the winter.

  1. 2014 Merlot $24.99

As I explain to my guests, merlot is the Ford of North Fork reds, a generally reliable red.   My brother characterizes this one as “an art opening wine,” and I see what he means.  Not distinguished, but also not offensive, it has some cherry tastes with a medium body and medium tannins.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $28.99

Mmm.  The aroma is brambly and peppery and the taste is sweeter and fruitier than expected.  Soft tannins.  We also note some herb and fig tastes.  Yum.  Just then the singer starts “Here Comes the Sun,” and indeed it does appear.  A bachelorette party forms a line on the wet grass with the veiled guest of honor in the middle for a photo shoot.

The bachelorette party organizing for a photo.

The bachelorette party organizing for a photo.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $28.99

Dark figs and earth and peppers with just a “soupçon of paint thinner.”  Not so sure about that last bit!  I like it, and it’s very nice with one of the last bits of cheese, which lends it some creaminess.  It is also a wine one could sip on its own.  My husband thinks it might have needed to breathe longer.  We all agree it is good, and has “the most character.”

Rainy day!

Rainy day!

Our tasting is done, the sun is out, so we leave to take a walk on the beach.

I wonder what the pooch would have said about the nose.

I wonder what the pooch would have said about the nose.

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room with cozy booths for the winter time and a breezy veranda for the summer; the sauvignon blanc, the cabernet sauvignon, and the cabernet franc; dogs are allowed on the veranda.

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I like this pattern on the side of the bar.

I like this pattern on the side of the bar.

Palmer Vineyards: Cozy Spot for a Blustery Day 3/14/15

A rainy chilly March day made the cozy booths at Palmer a good destination.

A rainy chilly March day made the cozy booths at Palmer a good destination.

http://www.palmervineyards.com/

Since it was pi day, we stopped at Briermere (finally re-opened after their winter closing—yay!) for a strawberry rhubarb pie before heading to Palmer’s cozy tasting room. It was a blustery, rainy day, so Palmer’s pub-like setting and intimate booths felt just right. (There’s also an outdoor roofed patio area for warm weather.) At the bar, we perused the menu, which was divided into four separate tasting groups, each featuring four wines—the Reserve, for $20, the Aromatic for $16, the Spring Flight or the Red Flight. After carefully considering our options, we decided to share a Reserve and an Aromatic, and headed over to a booth while the genial server set up our trays of tastes. The pour is quite generous—we could have shared one flight and been perfectly satisfied.

As pleasant as he was, the server could have given us more guidance on the tastings, especially on which wine to taste in which order, since we planned to combine the two tastings. However, we figured it out on our own, and I think made the right decisions. The tasting room also features the presence of two cats, a tabby and a grey, and, like all cats, they made a beeline for my husband, who is, much to his chagrin, quite allergic to them. A bit of discouragement worked, fortunately, and they stopped trying to jump up onto the booth beside him! Maybe they hoped we had opted for the $13 cheese tray.

The Reserve wines are marked with an *.

The pour is quite generous.

The pour is quite generous.

  1. *Albariῆo $24.99

We were excited to start with the Albariῆo, since as far as we know Palmer is the only vineyard on Long Island to feature this grape, and the wine has lately been my go-to choice when it’s on a list of house whites by the glass. Though the wine was too cold (a common problem), we were able to sense aromas of green apple, honeysuckle, and lemon. The taste was dry, almost flinty, with notes of lemon and celery. While not good for sipping, we felt it would go great with spaghetti with seafood in a white wine garlic sauce (which we had had the night before at Crazy Fork, an excellent though very informal restaurant in Mattituck) or maybe (keeping to a Spanish theme) a Manchego cheese. We decided it was very buyable, but when we bought a bottle we were somewhat annoyed to notice that it was only 500 ml, instead of the usual 750. (Palmer’s web site also doesn’t offer this information, so be forewarned if you want to buy some.)

The small bottle of the Albarino.

The small bottle of the Albarino.

  1. *Barrel Fermented Pinot Blanc $23.99

Of course, since it was oak fermented, we smelled vanilla and Werther’s candy (butterscotch!). You can sense the oak when you taste it, too, as well as some ripe pineapple with a touch of sweetness at the end. Though there are also some sour undertones, this is a white one could sip. I also thought it might be nice with a blanquette de veau.

  1. 2012 Aromatico                 $24.99

We decided to switch over to the Aromatics before going on the oaked chardonnay, which was a good decision, since the delicate taste of the Aromatico might have suffered by following it. After sniffing and tasting, we looked at each other and cried, “Tangerines!?” This wine tastes and smells more like tangerines than any other I have ever tried. When I walked over to the bar to ask the server which grapes were involved, he had to call into a back room to ask. A blend of malvese and muscat, was the answer. He added that it would be great chilled on a summer day, and we agreed. Good for sipping, it might also be nice with a chicken tagine (I think we were hungry.).

The bar area

The bar area

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $23.99

We’ve had lots of North Fork sauvignon blancs, but if you blindfolded us we would not have pegged this as one of them. Most are very light and crisp, but this has more depth, and almost an umami flavor, plus some citrus. I felt the aroma was somewhat musty, though not unpleasant. This might be nice with sushi or Japanese noodle soup.

  1. *2010 Reserve Chardonnay $22.99

This oaked chard would give a California chard a run for its money, said my husband. Though I’m not fond of oaky chards, this was pretty good, with some nice apricot flavors, though it was too oaky to sip. There’s an interesting hint of brininess at the end. To cut the butteriness (If that’s not a word, it should be.), I’d have it with spicy food, like Hunan Chinese dishes.

Another view of the room

Another view of the room

  1. 2013 Riesling $23.99

As the server had noted, this is not a dry riesling. I smell mineral, cucumbers, and perfume, taste white grape juice and Golden Delicious apples. Though it’s not complex, I find it pleasant—considering I’m not a fan of sweet wines. There are other rieslings I’d prefer.

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer $23.99

Okay, so don’t spend time smelling this one, or you might never get to the taste, which is quite nice. The smell, however…rotting meat? Durian fruit? But it tastes like ripe peaches, and though it is, again, too sweet for us, I could see enjoying sipping this in mid-summer. There’s a total disconnect between the smell and the taste, my husband observes.

  1. *2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29.99

We saved our lone red for last. Aromas of brambles, toast with jelly, and a taste that is dry, but too like sour cherries for our liking. Not a wine we’d want in our cellar, we decide. Perhaps they are wise to offer so many whites, though we don’t know if their other reds are better.

Note the small sign that says "tour."  You can do a self-guided tour of the wine-making process in the front building.

Note the small sign that says “tour.” You can do a self-guided tour of the wine-making process in the front building.

Reasons to visit: cozy pub-like setting; the cats (or not because of the cats, whom the web site informs us are named Apollo and Angela); the Albariῆo, the Aromatico; the sweeter wines if you like sweet wines; lots of interesting whites.

Apollo the cat out for a stroll.

Apollo the cat out for a stroll.

The booths remind me of an English pub.

The booths remind me of an English pub.