Viral Musings, June 18, 2020

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I haven’t had the heart to do a blog entry since my last one, on February 22nd, about Osprey’s Dominion. Shortly after that, and even before the announcement of various closures, we had started to feel uncomfortable with the idea of going out to do a tasting, since it brings you into such close contact with people. Then the wineries closed down.

Since then, they have mostly been either completely closed, or open only for curbside pick-up and/or delivery. We have still been doing our bit for the East End wine economy—our local liquor store has a good stock of local wines, and does free local delivery. A little time with their web site and we are able to amass a good list of North Fork wines for them to deliver. My blog has been useful for this, since I can check to see how we like a particular wine before I order it.

If you haven’t ever tried the search function, it is one of my favorite features of my blog, and I used to use it when we dined out at local restaurants. Just go to the blog and type in the name of the wine or winery in the search box, and up pop all my entries on that winery.

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Nofowineaux couldn’t resist these. I would say please…

Now, a tentative reopening is starting. Pellegrini, whose wine club we belong to, offers outside seating and will serve you a bottle of wine to go with the snacks they allow you to bring. Some other wineries are doing similar partial openings, so it’s worth checking their web sites to see what they are offering. Croteaux says their outdoor tasting area is open, for tastings and their own snacks. Personally, we are not ready to go anywhere yet, since we are in an at-risk category.

 

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This is just one side of the courtyard at Pellegrini, which likely has tables in it now.

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After you enter, turn right to find parking on the grass.

I keep thinking about all the lovely people we have encountered over our years of going to wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries, and worrying about how they are doing during quarantine. Servers are almost always friendly and helpful, happy to make recommendations for selections from the menus. Some of them seem to know only a little more than basic information about each wine, but others are passionate about wine or their specific winery, and can tell you as much as you want to know about the grapes, the methods used in the wine-making process, and what foods would go well with each wine.

I think about a young man who had trained as a chef, and who loved to go into detail with us as we chatted about what dishes to pair with each wine. I remember an older gentleman whom we met at a couple of different places, who had a comic routine to rival the best Catskill comedians. Then there was the very skinny woman who plied us with wine off the tasting menu until we joined her winery’s wine club (we haven’t regretted joining…). Another winery always had at least one server who was from France, doing an internship at the winery. Then, although we generally only visited each place once a year, there were those who actually remembered us—and my notebook.

Ah yes, reactions to my notebook. I remember fondly all the times we were treated to an extra taste or two, based on how serious we were about the wines—and my note-taking. Sometimes I would be asked outright if I wrote for a wine magazine. No, I always replied, and sometimes told them about my blog. But I think anyone who is serious and thoughtful about wine will find kindred spirits (no pun intended) at the wineries.

On our recent drives around the North Fork, we have noticed many restaurants have takeout with curbside delivery, and are improving their outside table availability. For example, at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck you can order food, and then eat it on their outdoor patio. A pleasant day trip out here is still doable. I would always call ahead to any winery or restaurant you were thinking of going to, and pay attention to their requests for masks and social distancing. And one warning—the local towns are being very strict about parking near their beaches, so it may be hard to get near the water, if that is what you want. However, a pleasant hike in Hallock State Park will bring you to a rocky Sound beach, good for walking on and collecting shells. The last time I drove past, they were open.

Farm stands are mostly open, and asparagus is one of those vegetables that is noticeably better when it is fresh. And the best strawberries I have ever had are at Patty’s Berries and Bunches, right across the street from Harbes (same family) on Sound Avenue. They are also open for u-pick berries. Just don’t forget your masks!

I do miss going to the wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries, and look forward to when they are open again.

Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s) December 22, 2018

Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s)         December 22, 2018

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Don’t let the blue sky deceive you…it was cold!

https://ospreysdominion.com/

You really need to have two flights to begin to sample the breadth of Osprey’s Dominion’s list of wines, so…we did.  I valiantly offered to drink more of each taste than my husband, the designated driver.  A flight of five tastes is $12, so we did one with five whites and another of five reds, but we could go back and do another two tastings of all different wines, if you include the “Reserve Collection.”

On this pre-Christmas Saturday of frantic last-minute shopping (we did a few errands in Riverhead and were happy we did them early, as we saw the traffic quickly increasing), the expansive tasting room at Osprey’s was an oasis of calm.  We had useful attention from our server, who quickly noted our likes and helped us tailor our tasting accordingly, avoiding their sweeter wines.

What’s nice about Osprey is it has something for everyone, from the lower priced Richmond Creek wines to the expensive Reserves, from the sweet Regina Maris Chardonnay to the minerally Sauvignon Blanc.  They also carry a nice selection of wine-related gifts.  The one area I would fault them on is in the snack category.  After our morning of erranding I was ready for a snack, but the “cheese tray” on offer for $10 was a cellophane-wrapped very small package of a few slices of Boar’s Head salami and cheese, plus a little baggie of crackers.  No thanks.

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That Boar’s Head “cheese tray” was quite inadequate.

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Nice sized pour

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   $19

Both the aroma and the taste of this sauvignon blanc are complex and interesting, and somewhat different than the usual North Fork s.b.  We sniff and get something funky, something vegetal—maybe cabbage?  The taste has lots of minerality and salt, plus pink grapefruit. Good. The tasting menu says “refreshing acidity.”  I would agree.  My husband says it is “not shy.”   Some day it might be fun to line up a bunch of different sauvignon blancs and see how they differ.

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  1. 2014 Fumé Blanc $19

Well, here’s one way they can differ.  This wine uses the same grape, but aged in 15% new French oak, on the lies for a while, for a somewhat smoky taste.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but also smells like ripe melon.  It has a richer mouth feel than the first wine and a nice long finish.  Lots of good acidity.  We like this one, too.

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  1. 2017 Reserve Pinot Gris $24

Our server steers us to this one, instead of our original plan of just going in order on the list of whites, since we had said we did not care for sweet wines.  The aroma of this one lets me trot out my new vocabulary word:  petrichor.  That’s the “scent of rain on dry ground,” which is also the smell you get when you walk past apartment buildings in New York in the summer after the doorman has been hosing down the sidewalk, or the smell of this wine.  It tastes like tangerines and pineapple, plus again some minerality, and is another winner.

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  1. 2014 Reserve Chardonnay $22

Although our server says this is the least sweet and least oaky of the oaked chardonnays, it’s not my favorite of the wines so far.  100% barrel fermented, the aroma is of something floral plus pencil shavings.  My tasting buddy identifies a “theme” in the wines, which we decide is a combination of minerality and acidity.  Those qualities help balance the sweetness of this chard.  I could see having it with Chinese food.

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  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer $19

As is typical of this grape, we get lots of floral smells, like honeysuckle, plus spice.  “It smells like a garden,” says my husband.  Though we prefer the gewürztraminer at One Woman, this is nice, with some gingery notes as well as fruit.  A touch sweet.

 

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $14

Now we get a fresh glass for the reds.  This is a left bank Bordeaux blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  As I sniff, I’m reminded of a gift I once got of a box of chocolate covered cherries.  Add to that a touch of tobacco and you have the aroma of this mellow, smooth, and very drinkable red.  It tastes remarkably like those chocolate covered cherries, too.  Really good for the money, and we’ve often bought it at Vintage, our local liquor store.

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  1. 2013 Meritage “Flight” $30

I love this kind of juxtaposition.  Here’s another Bordeaux-style blend, this time of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot.  At twice the price of the Richmond Creek blend, is it worth it?  Well, maybe.  It is definitely better in that it is more complex, with aromas and flavors of prunes, fruit, raspberries, and tobacco, with tannins that indicate you could probably cellar it for a few years. I wouldn’t buy it for every night drinking, but maybe for a special occasion.  The word “flight,” by the way, refers to the owner, who is a pilot.

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  1. 2014 Carménère $30

According to the tasting notes, Osprey is the first winery on Long Island to plant the Carménère grape, another grape used in Bordeaux wines.  We like this wine, too.  We smell pencil shavings again, like the smell you get from a pencil sharpener, and taste purple plums and spice, perhaps nutmeg.  It has “lots of taste,” we agree.  I think this is another wine that could age.

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  1. 2014 Malbec $30

In Cahors, we are told by the tasting notes, malbec is blended with merlot and tannat grapes, as is the case here as well.  The notes also recommend serving this with a grilled steak, and I can see that.  The aroma reminds me of picking blueberries and blackberries at Patty’s Berries and Bunches in August, an activity I heartily recommend for small children.  I had fun doing that, too.  This wine is also enjoyable, juicy and yummy.

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  1. 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot $30

The server and I agree that we like petit verdot.  This one is very good, with aromas of nutmeg and other spices, and a long finish.  It tastes like blackberry jam with seeds, and is very tannic. If I were adding wine to my cellar for aging, I would get this one.

Reasons to visit:  something for everyone, with a wide variety of wines at various price points and tastes; large attractive tasting room, where they often have music and other events; most of the wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc, the Reserve Pinot Gris, the Richmond Creek Red Blend, the Meritage “Flight,” the Carménère, the Malbec, and the Reserve Petit Verdot.  However, don’t rely on them for snacks.

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Note the windmill, an increasingly frequent sight on the North Fork.