Pellegrini Vineyards: In the Club June 4, 2019

https://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

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The day was pretty, but too chilly to sit outside.

We had thought we might sit outside, but though it was sunny it was so chilly that we asked the server if we could close the door to the tasting room. Since at that moment we were the only people there, he said sure. Later, a few other people arrived, including a couple who brought their lunches, sat in the courtyard with glasses of wine, and were clearly, based on some remarks to the server, planning to have their wedding there. We’ve seen how they set up for events, tenting the courtyard, which makes it into a large room.

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This is just one side of the courtyard.

The tasting room itself is rather small, with just a few tables and a bar along one side, augmented in warm weather by outdoor tables. Since you take your entire tasting with you on a tray, Pellegrini is a nice place to bring snacks and sit with friends. A take-to-the-table tasting includes three two-ounce pours of your choice, plus one ounce of the rosé, for $16. You can also stand at the bar and get three one-ounce tastes for $9, a good option if you’re going to more than one winery that day.

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As soon as we entered, we noticed the new furniture, with more comfortable chairs.

As wine club members, we could have done any tasting we wanted, but we opted to follow the standard format and do two trayfuls, one of whites and one of reds. Since our membership is “reds only,” we wanted to be sure to try the wines in our shipment. Our tasting confirmed our original judgment, that Pellegrini does a better job with reds than whites.

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Each tasting comes with a little bag of oyster crackers.

1. 2017 Rosé      $19.99
We were particularly interested to try the rosé, since it was on sale, and we like to have plenty of rosé on hand for the summer. This is a dry, steel-fermented blend of 57% merlot, 27% cabernet franc, and 16% cabernet sauvignon. With such a variety of grapes, you might expect a fruitier wine, but this is a rather lean rosé, more like a white, with tastes of unripe strawberry and minerals. My tasting buddy labeled it a “confused wine,” not sure if it wanted to be a white or a rosé. However, we liked it enough to buy the three-bottle package for $33. That night, we enjoyed a glass with a plate of pan-fried locally-caught blowfish tails (not the poisonous kind!) and a spinach salad made with local spinach and 8 Hands Farm bacon. As they say, what grows together goes together!

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A locally-caught delicacy–fried blowfish tails. Yum.

2. 2014 Gewürztraminer    $24.99
Mmmm. This smelled lovely, flowery, fruity, perfumey. The taste…not so much. Gewürztraminers can be too sweet, and this one was. I got tastes of honey and over-ripe pear, with just a touch of minerality. I prefer One Woman’s interpretation of this grape. This wine is a good illustration of why vintage matters. Over the years, there have been some Pellegrini gewürztraminers we liked, and others we found too sweet.
3. 2017 Steel Chardonnay      $19.99
I opted for the steel chardonnay over their couple of versions of oaked, since I often prefer steel to oak. This is a fairly standard North Fork chard, with lots of lemon aroma and taste. Just okay.

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4. 2017 REJOYCE    $24.99
I still haven’t gotten around to asking what this name of this blend of 63% chardonnay and 37% sauvignon blanc means. However, we did not rejoice at the taste, which is somewhat pineappley, but very light, with just a touch of sweetness. Almost not there at all. Meh.

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5. 2014 Cabernet Franc      $29.99
Now we moved on to the reds in our club shipment. Fortunately, we liked this one, a somewhat light, dry red with aromas of plums and berries and a taste of stewed prunes and cherries. Though it is simply called cabernet franc, it also has 15% cabernet sauvignon and 5% merlot. It would go well with lamb, since the dryness would cut through the fattiness of a chop.

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Our wine-club selections after we brought them home and before we put them in the wine cellar.

6. Steakhouse Red      $19.99
Though they label this “Steakhouse,” I think it should be called “pasta,” since it is not quite big enough a red to stand up to a steak. This iteration is a blend of 72% cabernet sauvignon and 28% merlot, but as a non-vintage wine the blend could vary from year to year. For the price, it is a good choice. I asserted that the aroma had a touch of funk, but my husband asserted I was “hallucinating the funk.” Nice generic red.
7. 2013 Vintner’s Pride Encore       $49.95
This is their Bordeaux blend—40% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon, 17% petit verdot, and 3% cabernet franc—and a very good blend it is. This is a wine that would stand up to steak, or maybe boeuf bourguignon. Delicious, is what I wrote. Dry, with plenty of dark fruit tastes, and some tannins. I observed that it had nice legs, and my pal made a silly joke about its pants. Well, this was our seventh taste, though we had left all three whites unfinished.

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See the legs?

Reasons to visit: good all-around winery, especially for reds; you can take your tray of tastes to a table and enjoy a visit with friends plus your own lunch or snacks; alternatively, you can stand at the bar and have smaller samples, a good option if you’re going to more than one winery; the rosé, the Cabernet Franc, the Vintner’s Pride Encore.

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I love this time of year, watching the vineyards green up and the farm stands start to open.

Pellegrini Vineyards: A Favorite March 1, 2018

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

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The news was threatening an apocalyptic storm, so after a trip to the supermarket for a few essentials (milk, bread, toilet paper, and guacamole ingredients) we headed to Pellegrini to pick up our wine club shipment.  When I looked in my notebook, I realized that, although we had been to Pellegrini many times and sampled wines, we hadn’t done a recorded tasting since 2016.  As wine club members, we can do free tastings at any time, and since pick-ups happen four times a year, we often combine picking up our three bottles of red with either a glass of something or a full tasting.

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The tasting room is not huge, but certainly adequate in the winter.

We chose the reds because Pellegrini does a better-than-North-Fork-average with them, though we like some of their whites as well.  We also like Pellegrini because it is a pleasant setting in which to taste wine.  Though the tasting room itself is small, there’s plenty of room in and around the courtyard, where we have often sat in the summer.  It is a good place to bring guests because you can get your whole tasting on a tray and bring it to a table, where you can share snacks you’ve brought with you.  The only food they sell is North Fork chocolate, though they do include a little bag of oyster crackers with each tasting.

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They have a few tasting options, but the main ones are either three one-ounce pours at the bar for $8 or three two-ounce pours which you take to a table on a tray for $14.  The latter option also includes a one-ounce pour of a wine they select, which this time was their rosé.  When you get there, they hand you a menu on which you circle your three choices out of a possible fourteen wines.  My husband and I decided to do three whites and three reds for our two tastings, sharing them, as usual.  The room was empty on this winter mid-week day, so we opted to take our trays to a table by the window where we could take our time and chat as we sipped.

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Pellegrini was having a good sale on their rosés, so though we prefer Croteaux, we decided to get the three bottles for $33.

  1. 2016 Rosé         $19.99

This is a very pale pink rosé, with the typical strawberry aroma, plus a touch of petrol or some chemical.  It is made from a blend of 66% cabernet franc, 24% cabernet sauvignon, and 20% merlot.  Compared to Croteaux rosés, it is very light, almost more like a sauvignon blanc than a rosé.  It is very dry, and drinkable but not one you would want to sip by itself.  It could go with charcuterie.

  1. 2015 Gewürztraminer $24.99

I find gewürztraminers a little tricky, since sometimes I like them and other times I find them too sweet.  I would hesitate to buy a gewürztraminer or a riesling I didn’t know.  This one smells, I assert, “gewurzty”—floral, perfumey, ferny.  I like the taste, which reminds me of ripe pineapple with a touch of lemon.  Despite all the fruitiness, it has only a touch of sweetness, with a nice long finish.  My tasting buddy suggest pairing it with mac and cheese, and I counter with weisswurst, since it is after all a German grape.

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Our tray of whites. As you can see, the rosé, in the upper right corner, is almost as pale as the whites.

  1. 2016 Chardonnay $19.99

Though they have a couple of oaked chardonnays, I opt for the steel-fermented one, since I generally tend to prefer steel over oak.  This one smells like honeysuckle and fruit salad, but the taste is very minerally, with not much citrus, and some green apple.  It is so dry that some might find it harsh.  Though it is not a sipper, I could see drinking it with something like a barbequed salmon burger.

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Pellegrini often has special sales. Today they had one on the chardonnay and one on the rosé. We opted to get the rosé.

  1. 2016 Rejoyce $24.99

Because we’re not standing at the bar, I can’t ask about the origin of this name, but since it is a blend—of 58%chardonnay and 42% sauvignon blanc—I assume they had to give it a non-grape name.  In any event, we like it.  The aroma is lovely, with notes of pine needles and forest and what I insist is sweat (which doesn’t sound so good, but I liked it).  It does not taste at all like the smell, notes my husband, saying it is more like lime than lemon.  It is a good food wine, and if he catches any bluefish next summer (or we buy some at Braun’s) I may get a bottle to go with it.

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The vines are bare now, but spring is coming. My chives are starting to grow.

  1. 2014 Merlot $29.99

Now we switch to the reds, which, because they have been sitting on our tray for half an hour, are at perfect room temperature.  This merlot is in our shipment, so we are interested to try it.  It is actually a bit of a blend, 90% merlot plus 7% cabernet sauvignon and 3% cabernet franc.  It is a nice, not atypical Long Island merlot, with dark cherry aroma and flavor, more soft than tannic, with not a lot of fruit and some mineral and salt flavors.  We like it, but more as a picnic red than as one to stand up to red meats.  We decide that when we get home we will label it for drinking this year, rather than holding on to it for any length of time.

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  1. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon $29.99

“Not a killer cab,” opines my drinking pal, though he also says it is a pleasant wine.  It is aged 19 months in oak, and has an aroma of dark fruit and tastes of ripe purple plums.  It may not be hefty enough at this point to go with a steak, but one could certainly pair it with pork or lamb chops.  It has enough tannins that we decide to label it for a year from now when we stow away our wine club selections.

  1. 2012 Petit Verdot $39.99

I have high hopes for this wine, since 2012 was a good year for reds on the North Fork and I often like petit verdot, and I am not disappointed.  Yum.  The aroma is like macerated raspberries, and it tastes like black raspberries.  It is dry, with lots of tannins, and could definitely stand up to a steak.  Their website describes the taste as “dark and brooding.”  I don’t know about that, since I never saw a wine brood, but we like it.

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In the summer I often try to angle my photos so I don’t include too many people. Not a problem today!

Reasons to visit:  pleasant tasting room with ample outside space for summer tastings; outside food is allowed, so you can bring your own snacks; you can bring the tastings to a table so it is a nice place to sit with friends; the gewürztraminer, the Rejoyce, the cabernet sauvignon, the petit verdot.  One note on the tray of tastes—in general, you want to go from whites to reds, and from top to bottom and from left to right.

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We’ve often been here when they were setting up for weddings in the courtyard, when it is covered with a white tent.

Pellegrini Vineyards: Refuge from the Rain August 10, 2016

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

Our view was of the rain lashing the courtyard.

Our view was of the rain lashing the courtyard.

The thunder was ominous, and we barely made it into the tasting room before a deluge poured from the sky.  However, the menacing weather meant that on this Wednesday afternoon we had the tasting room to ourselves (though a couple of other groups arrived later).  With no urgent business, we stayed for almost two hours, snacking on hummus and pretzel chips we had brought with us and chatting with our friends who confessed they were neophytes to wine tasting—though not to wine drinking.  “I’m a virgin,” my friend joked, explaining that though she’d been to wineries for events she’d never actually sat down for a tasting.

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In that case, I was glad I’d chosen to take our friends to Pellegrini, where you can have your tray of tastes delivered to your table and spend as long as you like discussing the wines.  Our discussions ranged from the personal to the political, but we did devote some attention to the wines, which our friends generally enjoyed.  They had some favorites, and others they didn’t finish, about which more later.

On this rainy Wednesday, we had the room mostly to ourselves.

On this rainy Wednesday, we had the room mostly to ourselves.

A tasting includes any three wines you choose from the menu printed on a placemat, which then becomes your guide to the order in which to drink the wines, plus a sample of their rosé, for $12. Since we are wine club members, our tastings were free.  We all chose a variety of different wines, so I’m going to comment on my choices first, with some briefer notes on other options.

One tray full. The oyster crackers are useful for cleansing your palate between tastes.

One tray full. The oyster crackers are useful for cleansing your palate between tastes.

  1. 2015 Rosé           $19.99

We decided we would all start with this, since it was one wine we had in common, so we could discuss both this particular drink and also how to think about the aroma and taste of wine.  A steel-fermented blend of 35% merlot, 32% cabernet sauvignon, and 33% cabernet franc, this is a light dry rosé with a distinctively citric taste we decided was more like tangerine than lemon.  It had only a faint bit of the strawberry aroma many rosés have, and lots of minerality.  My friend particularly liked the pale pink color.

A tray of whites.

A tray of whites.

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $24.99

As in the past, I like this wine.  It’s a crisp steel-fermented sauvignon blanc with a bit of a gooseberry aroma and nice balance of mineral and lemony citrus.  I would have it with local oysters.  My friend said she would too—if she liked oysters.  Well, then, with scallops?  Oh, yes.

  1. 2014 East End Select BBQ Red $18.99

What kind of wine do you want to serve at a barbeque?  Probably something uncomplicated and easy to drink that goes well with burgers and doesn’t cost too much.  Hence BBQ Red.  Made from steel-fermented petit verdot, this is simple and direct and light and dry.  You could even have it with hot dogs.

Mostly reds

Mostly reds

  1. 2011 Petit Verdot $29.99

If you want to understand the difference between a wine that has been steel-fermented and one that has been aged 20 months in French oak, you might want to follow the BBQ Red with this petit verdot.  This remains one of my favorite North Fork reds, with rich flavors of blueberry and other berries and dark plums, pleasantly tannic and dry.  It can stand up to a steak.  Our friend agrees, and this is the only glass he, who is not much of a drinker, empties.

Now here are a few notes on other wines, in no particular order, though we did spend some time explaining why the order in which you sample a tasting matters.  Basically, you want to go from the lightest to the most flavorful, so you can appreciate each one as it comes.

We commandeered the big table, since we were the only ones there.

We commandeered the big table, since we were the only ones there.

  1. 2014 Medley White $21.99

I wasn’t sure my friend would like this one, since she is not fond of sweet wines and this blend includes 5% gewürztraminer as well as 55% sauvignon blanc and 40% chardonnay, and I was right.  She was not a fan, describing both the taste and smell as “pungent.”  It did have a bit of that cat pee smell you sometimes get.  She did not finish her glass, but much preferred her next taste.

  1. 2015 Stainless Steel Chardonnay $19.99

A fan of pinot grigio, our friend liked this dry, citrusy chard, which she described as “mild.”  I like it too, better than their oaked chard.

  1. 2014 Chardonnay $19.99

Although this is a blend of 80% oaked chard (8 months aged) and 20% steel chard, we felt this was still too oaky for our taste.

  1. 2010 Merlot $29.99

My friends were not fond of this merlot, which they felt could have been fruitier.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $29.99

Actually a Bordeaux blend of 84% cabernet franc, 7% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon, and 4% petit verdot, this red also was not a favorite with our friends, who perhaps found it too tannic for their taste.  I think a few more years of aging would be useful.

We took advantage of a lull in the storm to head out to the parking lot, but the storm was not over!

We took advantage of a lull in the storm to head out to the parking lot, but the storm was not over!

As we headed to Greenport our phones lit up with storm and tornado warnings, so we pulled over.

As we headed to Greenport our phones lit up with storm and tornado warnings, so we pulled over.

Reasons to visit:  as I’ve said before, a good all-around winery, with plenty of good choices in both white and red and reasonable prices;  nice place to go with friends, as you can sit at a table with your tastes and bring your own snacks; the steel chardonnay, the sauvignon blanc, the petit verdot, the BBQ Red.

We couldn't resist this photo of Deep Water Grille and deep water on Front Street in Greenport.

We couldn’t resist this photo of Deep Water Grille and deep water on Front Street in Greenport.

Pellegrini: All-Around Good Place September 26, 2015

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

The entrance to the tasting room and courtyard

The entrance to the tasting room and courtyard

It was a beautiful fall weekend, which meant the agritainment business was in full swing, which meant we were stuck in traffic on Sound Avenue for a frustrating hour, which meant we decided to turn our pick-up of our Pellegrini wine club shipment into our tasting for the weekend.   Anyway, it’s been a year since I wrote about Pellegrini, one of our favorite wineries.

Wedding guests starting to gather outside

Wedding guests starting to gather outside

When we went to pull into the parking lot, we were somewhat dismayed to see a huge party bus pull in just ahead of us, but when the first passenger to get out was in a long white lace dress we realized it was a wedding party.  The large central courtyard was still in the process of being set up for the reception, while guests milled around in the tasting room and out on the lawn.  As a result, we decided to quickly share one tasting of the whites, since we get—and know we like—the reds in our subscription.  If you’re not in the wine club, a tasting consists of three two-ounce pours of your choice and one “complimentary” one-ounce pour of the oaked chardonnay for $12.  The glasses are arrayed on a labeled place mat on a tray, which helps you choose the order in which to drink them (roughly top to bottom, left to right).   Oh, and either our server was flustered by the influx of wedding guests or she forgot or they are no longer on offer, but we did not get the usual little bag of oyster crackers that comes with a tasting.

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  1. 2014 Gewürztraminer                   $24.99

I used to think I didn’t like gewürztraminers because they were too sweet, but several of the North Fork gewürztraminers are not.  However, this one is a touch too sweet for my taste.  It has a very strong honeysuckle aroma with tastes of sweet plums—perhaps greengage?—and mineral.  My husband and I turned to each other simultaneously and said, “It would be a good choice with spicy Thai food.”  Steel fermented.

Our tray of tastes

Our tray of tastes

  1. 2014 Medley White    $21.99

The Medley White is also steel fermented, and includes 5% gewürztraminer, plus 55% sauvignon blanc and 40% chardonnay.  We like this one much better.  It has some nice complexity of both aroma and taste, and we agree that we smell something like cigar or pipe tobacco plus rock or mineral.  Though it is not very dry, it is also not too sweet, with a good balance.  We taste pear and an almost salty minerality which my causes my tasting buddy to wax poetic.  “Like salt spray on a windy day at the beach,” he opines.  Okay.

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  1. 2014 Chardonnay $19.99

This is our complimentary taste, an oaked chardonnay that spends eight months in French oak, and is 80% oaked and 20% steel fermented.  You can smell the usual woods/vanilla aroma of an oaked chard, and the taste is similarly undistinguished.

One of the outdoor tables

One of the outdoor tables

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $24.99

“It smells like a florist,” I say.  “You mean a florist shop, not the florist herself!” corrects my husband.  Well, yes.  This, like the Medley, is a well-balanced wine, with a good mix of tart and sweet, nice and crisp and lemony.  I’d have it with oysters any time.

We amused ourselves watching the caterers setting up.

We amused ourselves watching the caterers setting up.

Reasons to Visit:  a good all-around winery, with room to sit inside or outside, space for children to run around outside, good whites and reds; you can bring your own snacks; the Medley White, the Sauvignon Blanc; we didn’t try it today, but the Petit Verdot is generally excellent.

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One view of the tasting room

One view of the tasting room

Pellegrini Vineyards: One of Our Favorites September 6, 2013

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

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Going with a group?  Have kids in tow?  Want to sit quietly at a table and ponder your tasting?  Like whites?  Like reds?  Pellegrini is good for all these conditions! On this visit we saw a large bachelorette party enjoying their tasting in the tented courtyard, a couple—he wearing a t-shirt that said Brooklyn—at a table under the pergola, and a family with kids who ran around on the lawn, among others.

A view to the courtyard and pergola

A view to the courtyard and pergola

Their tasting menu offers several different options, including a flight they bring to your table of three two-ounce pours of wines of your choice from a menu of 12, plus a complimentary one-ounce taste of their merlot, for $12, or a tasting of their Vintner’s Pride wines for $14.  Tastings include a packet of oyster crackers to clear the palate.  When you get your tray of tastes, sample them from left to right and top to bottom, as they are arranged on a labeled placemat.  If you’re not sure in which order to taste (order matters, as a delicate wine will be lost if you taste it after a more forceful one), ask your server.  They also offer a cheese plate or a chocolate and wine pairing, but they don’t seem to mind if you bring your own snacks.  All wines are made from grapes grown on their estate. We belong to their wine club, so our tastings are free.  We got two tastings, one of their whites and the other of the reds, and shared.

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  1. East End Select Rosé                     $14.99

This is a steel-fermented blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc with a pleasantly herbal—rosemary?—aroma.  We decided we would like it as an accompaniment to fish, as it is nice and dry with lemony tastes, but it is not a sipper.  If you want some, go now, as it is on an end-of-season sale of three bottles for $33 (we bought three).  Not as good as Croteaux 314, however.

The tray of whites and rose, plus the merlot.

The tray of whites and rose, plus the merlot.

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer                 $19.99

We’ve been on a bit of a gewürzt kick lately, for no real reason, so we can compare this to others of its ilk. We find it a bit too sweet for us, though the finish is rather tart.  Still, it’s a pleasant wine, with aromas of honeysuckle and tangerine, and would make a nice aperitif.

  1. 2013 Medley White $21.99

A blend (hence the name Medley) of 60% chardonnay and 40% sauvignon blanc, steel-fermented, this wine has mineral and lemon aromas and a refreshing taste—not too tart, not too sweet, with tastes of gooseberry and citrus and mineral.  “Hmmm,” I say, “I think this would pair well with tuna-noodle casserole.  I’m not kidding!”

  1. 2007 Merlot $19.99

Merlot is their signature wine, and they make a lot of it.  The 07 is actually a bit of a blend; though it is 90% merlot it also includes 6% cabernet sauvignon, 3% cabernet franc, and 2% petit verdot, giving it some complexity.  This is an easy wine to drink, soft, with tasty blackberry notes.

The tray of reds.

The tray of reds.

  1. Steakhouse Red                                 $16.99

I think I’d rather have this with lamb chops than with steak, but that’s just me.  A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this has a bit of that forest smell that merlots sometimes have, and is quite dry, with some tannins.  This and the other reds are all aged in oak.

  1. 2010 Petit Verdot $49.99

Yum.  “Good from start to finish,” says my husband, and I agree.  The color is very dark, and we sense lots of ripe fruit aromas and tastes.  This one I would have with a good steak, for sure.

It was very humid outside, so we opted to stay inside in the air conditioning.

It was very humid outside, so we opted to stay inside in the air conditioning.

  1. 2010 Vintner’s Pride Encore $49.99

A Bordeaux blend—60% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petit verdot—one would expect this wine to be better than the previous one, but it is not.  We smell spice and dark tea leaves, but are underwhelmed by the taste.  For the price, it is disappointing.  “It never opens up,” says my husband.  Maybe if it sat in the glass longer?  But it is the last of our tastes, so it has been there for a while.  Oh, well.

One part of the tasting room.

One part of the tasting room.

Reasons to visit:  you’re with a group; you’re not with a group; you have kids in tow who need room to run; you like reds; you like whites; the 2013 Medley White; the 2013 Gewürztraminer; the 2010 Petit Verdot; the Steakhouse Red.

 

Beautiful grapes.

Beautiful grapes.