Channing Daughters: SoFo, So Good September 14, 2018

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https://www.channingdaughters.com/

Friends often ask me, “What’s your favorite winery?”  I have various answers—rosés at Croteaux, whites at One Woman, reds at Pellegrini, Mattebella for sitting outside, Sherwood for the fireplace in the winter, etc.—but really, Channing Daughters is my favorite.  Unfortunately, it is on the South Fork, so we don’t get there as often as we like.  However, we had an errand that could only be done in Southampton, so off we went.  The errand finished, we took a walk around Sag Harbor, got a bite of lunch at the Golden Pear (really good sandwich), and headed to Channing Daughters.

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This line-up of bottles shows just some of the wines Channing Daughters makes.

So why do we like this winery so much?  It is the most creative, interesting winery on Long Island, growing about two dozen different grapes and mixing and matching them in unusual ways.  And we like almost all their wines. That’s why we joined their wine club, despite the inconvenience of having to be home to sign for the UPS delivery.

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Part of the outside area.

The tasting room is small, with a bar along one side and a few barrels on which to rest your tastes, plus some outside tables in the summer.  They carry a small selection of wine-related gifts, and offer some plain crackers as palate cleansers.  However, we’ve never been there without having interesting conversations with both the people at the bar and the servers, who are very well versed in the wines and eager to share what they know. For really complete analyses of the wines, check out their web site.

 

A tasting consists of six wines for $18, and though the wines in the tasting are listed on a chalkboard, we overheard the servers customize tastings for people based on what they like or don’t like.  As wine club members, we could have tasted any wines, but I wanted to taste the two wines which had just come in our shipment.  So we did the standard tasting plus those two.  Although we each could have had our own tasting, we decided to share in the interests of sobriety.

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The upside down tree is their logo, and references one of Walter Channing”s skills, which is carving.

  1. 2015 Vino Bianco           $20

A blend of 36% Pinot Grigio, 26% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Tocai Friulano and 23% Chardonnay, this is a basic good white wine.  Dry and refreshing, it has, observed my husband, “lots of taste.”  Citrus, flowers, spice, fruit—I agree.  They age some of the wine in steel, some in old oak, some in new oak, then blend it all together.  As I said, they are creative!  We buy two bottles, and think about having some the next time we buy oysters.

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  1. 2016 Rosato di Sculpture Garden $25

This is one of the rosés they make.  A number of years ago, they had seven, the result of late heavy rains which made them reluctant to use the red wine grapes for reds, as the flavor would be too diluted.  So instead they made rosé.  Good move.  The rosés were so popular, they now make a bunch every year.  This one is a field blend, of 91% merlot, 6% teroldego, and 3% blaufrankisch.  Really nice.  The aroma is somewhat earthy and minerally, and it has the strawberry taste you expect plus a really nice minerality and maybe some nutmeg.  Good.

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Orange wine!

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  1. 2014 Meditazione $40

Pronouncing the name with Italian verve, our server explained all about orange wine.  This is a white wine made using the red wine method of fermenting the juice with the skins, hence the orange color.  A blend of 36% Pinot Grigio, 21% Muscat Ottonel, 14% Chardonnay, 13% Tocai Friulano, 7% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Pinot Bianco and 4% Gewurztraminer, this is not an easy wine to drink on its own.  We have it with a couple of crackers, which improves the experience.  It smells like baked oranges and tastes like apples and spices.  They suggest pairing it with game birds or sausages, and that makes sense to me.

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  1. 2017 Rosso Fresco $22

Fresh red?  Yes, because this is a light, bright red, more along the lines of a Beaujolais.  I could see serving on the deck with hot dogs.  It’s another blend, of 76% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 8% Blaufrankisch, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Teroldego, and is barely aged.  They even suggest serving it slightly chilled.  It would make a great summer red.

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  1. 2017 Petillant Naturel Rosato $28

I usually eschew sparkling pink wines.  Fortunately, I did not skip this one.  Wow, is it good!  Mouthwatering, bubbly, dry, with some strawberry aroma and flavor, this wines makes a good case for never dismissing any type of wine before you taste the iteration in front of you.  The servers were going into great detail on the methods used to create this wine, which included freezing the tank at one point and fermenting it in the bottle.  Just another Channing Daughter original.

 

  1. VerVino Vermouth (500 ml) $28

Yes, the tasting ends with one of the vermouths they make.  This is a somewhat sweet one, and would make a fine aperitif or dessert wine.  There’s a somewhat chemical aroma—maybe petroleum? —but fortunately the vermouth doesn’t taste like gasoline.  I get sweet apples, pears, and other fruit flavors.  Vermouth is made by adding various herbs and other ingredients to wine, and at Channing they vary them by season.  This one includes such fall produce as apples, Asian pears, pumpkin, butternut squash, calendula, sage, borage etc.

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The “wild child” name references the use of wild yeast.

  1. 2015 L’Enfant Sauvage $38

This is one of the wines in our current shipment, so I added it to the tasting.  A chardonnay made with wild yeasts, this wine has varied over the years.  Sometimes it’s my favorite, and other times…not so much.  This iteration is yummy.  Although it spends fifteen months in French oak, it doesn’t have that buttery taste I dislike in oaked chards.  I do detect a bit of that woody flavor, which reminds me of when I was a kid and I would sometimes bite my pencils, but I also get lime and baked pear.  You could have it with very assertive dishes, like spicy Chinese food, or even as an aperitif.  We buy a bottle to add to the one we already have, aging in our cellar.

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  1. 2016 Dornfelder

I wonder if this is a wine which would improve with age, since of all the wines we tried today this is my least favorite.  But they do suggest aging it in the bottle, so we will see.  A blend of 85% dornfelder and 15% pinot noir, it has red fruit aromas and flavors, but is not a really deep big red.

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Lots of choices!

Reasons to visit:  some of the best and most creative wines on Long Island; the Vino Bianco, the Rosato, the Petillant Naturel Rosato, L’Enfant Sauvage, and more; there’s always something new to try; one of the few wineries on the South Fork, so well worth a visit if you find yourself in Sag Harbor.

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Mr. Channing’s sculpture’s decorate the tasting room and the grounds.

 

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Hudson Valley Visit:  Nofowineaux Takes a Trip October 7-13

We decided to take a trip north to see art museums and galleries, visit relatives, and take some hikes in the beautiful Hudson Valley countryside.  No surprise, we also made time for some tastings, visiting one brewery and two wineries.

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Storm King and DIA Beacon have both been on my bucket list for a while, so now I can cross them off.  Both are well worth the visit, Storm King in particular (but be sure to go when the weather is nice, and try to arrive early in the day).  We also enjoyed sauntering up and down Beacon’s main street, popping in and out of little galleries and antique/gift shops.  The Roundhouse Hotel is pricey for the area, but comfortable and well run.

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One view from Storm King.

Another place worth traveling to is Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, New York, where we hiked around the lake with my brother and sister-in-law.  It’s a beautiful place, with the garden aspects integrated into the natural landscape, providing scenic views at every turn.  And if you’re in Kingston, you should make time for the Maritime Museum, with its emphasis on the history of the boats and industries along the Hudson River.

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Innisfree Garden, an amazingly beautiful place.

Our final hike of the week was in the John Boyd Thacher State Park outside Albany, where the scenery reminded us very much of the movie Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis.  Alas, we did not see him running bare-chested through the trees.  If you go, be sure to stop into the new visitor center.

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So, now on to our tastings…

Hudson Valley Brewery, October 8, 2017

Beacon, New York

http://hudsonvalleybrewery.com/about-us

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Before they put out the tables, we had trouble spotting the brewery.

Finding the brewery was a bit of a challenge, as it is located in the midst of a huge parking lot behind an apartment building, and only a small sign on the door indicates that you have arrived.  We walked past before they opened, and then when we returned there were picnic tables set up outside and the garage-style door had been swung open.  Inside, it is very industrial chic, reminding us that Beacon is sometimes referred to as “Brooklyn north.”  The bar is not very long, so we decided to take our tastes to a picnic table across from it.  We would have sat outside, but all those tables were filled, primarily with a young crowd.

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Industrial chic room

They offer eight different beers, a four-ounce pour in attractive stemmed glasses at $2-$3 per taste.  The chipper server informed us that they only give two tastes per person per time at the bar, so we each took two and then returned for the final four.  We left our credit card to run a tab, thinking we would get a whole glass of whichever beer we liked best, but as it happened there were none we liked enough to get a glass of.  Their beers generally have a sour, fruity flavor profile, which is not a taste I like.

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  1. Pillow Hat IPA

The aroma is very grapefruity, with a touch of something funky.  The taste is super citrusy, and it is the kind of beer I could see downing on a hot day after working in the garden.

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Our second group of tastes

  1. Feel No Way Pilsner

Cement basement aroma, with a touch of sauerkraut.  The taste is sour, oaty and grainy, and reminds my husband of Kix cereal!

  1. Little Memory IPA

This one also smells like grapefruit juice, plus pineapple juice.  I dislike it so much that we don’t finish the taste. It is sour but also fruity.

  1. Plateaux IPA

Okay, this one we decide is like a beery orange juice or an over the hill cider that has gone sour.  If you don’t actually like beer, you might drink this with a burger.

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Our first group of tastes

  1. Amulet Sour Farmhouse

Blueberry pie aroma?  Certainly fruity.  The taste reminds me of very sour candy.  I say bleh; my husband says maybe after a run.  I’d rather drink water in that case!

  1. Flying Colors Sour Farmhouse

By this time, we have invested $2 in a bag of cracked pepper and sea salt chips, which helps us get through the tasting.  This is another fruity-tooty beer, and rather sweet.  As we discuss the tastes, my tasting buddy comments that we are treating this more like a wine tasting in terms of all the aromas and flavors we are finding, which is true.

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  1. Phase Delay Sour Farmhouse

This one smells like an IPA, very citrusy, and tastes rather like sucking on a lemon.  Super sour, say my notes.  At least this one is not objectionably sweet, and is drinkable if what you want is a beer-like lemonade.

  1. Silhouette Brunch Style Sour Beer

Their own tasting notes compare this to a Tropicana juice box, though I again think it resembles a sweet and sour lemonade.  I find it barely potable, and, as with several of the other beers, we don’t finish our taste.

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There are snacks one can buy. Our little bag of chips cost $2.

Reasons to visit:  you’re in Beacon and you want to go to a beer tasting (but I wish we had tried the other brewery in town); you don’t actually like beer that tastes like beer.  That evening we had dinner at a nice Thai restaurant on Main Street which had Singha beer on tap, and much preferred that to any of the beers we had at Hudson Valley.

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Benmarl Winery October 9, 2017

Marlboro, New York

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Entrance to Benmarl winery

http://benmarl.com/

Finding Benmarl Winery would also have been a challenge, if not for Google maps, which easily directed us to this mountain-top site, about twenty minutes outside of Beacon.  They are part of the Shawangunk Wine Trail (who knew?), which includes about fifteen wineries along the Shawangunk Mountains.  We considered visiting one or two more, but many of them were closed on Monday, and others were a bit further than we wanted to venture on this rainy, foggy afternoon.

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Resident kitty

Benmarl has a pleasantly rustic tasting room, and the servers were enthusiastic and chatty.  Outside we noted a large tent set-up, and learned that the day before they had had a special grape-stomping event.  Oh my.  Our server informed us that “Benmarl” means “Hill of Slate,” and the farm is allegedly the “oldest vineyard in America.”  On their 37 acres they grow Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Muscat, then get the rest of their grapes from the Finger Lakes and…Long Island!  The North Fork, to be exact.  Ha.  I had said as we were on our way there that I was interested in comparing their wines to Long Island wines, but, no surprise, they tasted rather familiar.

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For $10 you get to try six (out of 17 or more—they were out of some) of their wines, and since the pour was rather small for a shared tasting and I was curious to try it, we paid an additional couple of dollars to try the Baco Noir.  If you want to keep your glass, your tasting is $12.

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There were lots of options on the menu.

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   $20

The grapes for this wine are from the North Fork, and it has the characteristic honeysuckle aroma and a taste that combines citrus and minerality.  Good, though a tad sweeter than I like.

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  1. 2016 Stainless Steel Chardonnay $15

Our server told us about how she likes to recommend this wine to anyone who insists they don’t like chardonnay, since what they don’t like is probably the oak-aged buttery California style of chard.  We agree, and like this citrusy light white, with flavors of gooseberry and mineral.  Quite pleasant.  We buy a bottle, which matches well with a pasta and salmon dish my sister-in-law makes for us when we arrive at their house.  These grapes are from Seneca Lake.

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  1. 2016 Traminette $18

This is one of their sweeter wines, but not cloyingly so, with a candy aroma and some tropical fruit tastes.  I could see having it with spicy food.  Finger Lakes grapes.

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  1. 2016 Merlot $20

As we switch to the reds, she gives the glass a quick rinse with some of the wine.  This, I observe, tastes very like a North Fork merlot.  Not surprisingly, since that is where the grapes come from.  You can smell the oak (aged 16 months in French oak) and cherry, and it also has lots of cherry taste, plus maybe a bit of tobacco.

  1. 2015 Slate Hill Red $20

A Bordeaux blend, this is 48% North Fork merlot, 42% Finger Lakes cabernet franc, and 10% North Fork cabernet sauvignon, aged 12 months in French oak.  The aroma is fruity, but also mushroomy, with a hint of something chemical—but that may be due to the cellar, the door to which was opened behind us as we stood there, and from which emanated a basement/chemical smell.  In any event, we didn’t much care for this wine, which had a sour aftertaste and not a lot of fruit.

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  1. 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve $33

Another blend, this is 30% North Fork merlot, 20% Finger Lakes cabernet franc, and 50% North Fork cabernet sauvignon, aged 24 months.  We like it much better than the Slate Hill.  It has lots of fruit—dark plums, cherry, blackberry, coffee—and is pleasantly tannic and dry.

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  1. 2015 Baco Noir $35

I really wanted to try a wine made from estate-grown grapes, and this is all theirs, from vines first planted in 1958.  The aroma is great, with lots of fruit, very plummy, but the taste does not have as much fruit as the smell promised.  It is dry and tannic, but not particularly complex.

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Reasons to visit:  you are traveling up the Hudson Valley and want to do a wine tasting; the sauvignon blanc, stainless steel chardonnay, merlot, and Proprietor’s Reserve; pretty reasonable prices for a small winery; beautiful mountain setting; you want to support a winery that practices “sustainable” agriculture, with no spraying.

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Millbrook Vineyards and Winery October 11, 2017

Millbrook, New York

http://www.millbrookwine.com/

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After the flatness of Long Island, it was refreshing to be in the Catskill Mountains.  We enjoyed the various vistas as we traveled the back roads with my brother and sister-in-law to this winery with its spectacular views over the hills.  Although we felt we had gone rather far off the “beaten path,” a busload of tourists who arrived shortly after we did showed us that we were not as isolated as it had seemed.  Fortunately, Millbrook is well set up to handle a crowd, and we enjoyed our tasting.

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This is only one small part of the winery’s space.

Our bright and well-informed server informed us that John S. Dyson, the founder of the vineyard, was responsible for the “I (heart) NY” logo, which also appears on their glasses (which you get to keep after your tasting).  In addition to the property in Millbrook, the winery also owns vineyards in California (fortunately so far not affected by the fires) and Italy, which expands the varieties of wine they can offer.  One challenge of growing wines this far north is the winter.  They can get temperatures as low as minus fourteen, and anything lower than minus five can give certain grape vines trouble.

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A couple of the wines we did not get to try.

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The shop has a few items, many from Italy.

The Millbrook building is large and attractive, with various areas, including an upstairs lounge and balcony, where one can (and we did) take a bottle or glasses and look out over the scenery while sipping.  Not all of their wines are available for tasting every day, and on this week day our only option was the Portfolio Tasting, of six wines for $12.50.  You pay the cashier when you enter, and then are assigned a spot at one of the bars.

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  1. 2016 Hunt Country White          $16

This is their white blend, a mixture of riesling, tocai friulano, traminette, and pinot grigio, some of which comes from California.  The aroma is of apricots and minerals, and it tastes quite good, of peaches and melon, with a nice long finish.  My brother characterizes it as a “backyard wine,” and my sister-in-law says she has “no complaints.”

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  1. 2016 Tocai Friulano Proprietor’s Special Reserve $18

According to our server, Millbrook was the first winery in the United States to grow this particular grape, which is related to sauvignon blanc.  We like it very much, with its aroma of roasted pears and soft tastes of pears and red grapefruit.  I think it is softer than an Italian tocai, which is flintier, but we like it enough to buy a bottle to take home.

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I peeked into a room where they store wine.

  1. 2015 Chardonnay $18

Just when I think I’ll finally get to compare an upstate chard with a North Fork chard, we are told that one third of the grapes for this wine come from Pellegrini Vineyard on the North Fork!  Other grapes come from the Finger Lakes and from Millbrook’s estate.  In any event, it is a typical not-too-oaky oaked chardonnay.

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  1. 2014 Villa Pillo Borgoforte $19

In case you’re wondering about the Italian name, it comes from Millbrook’s Italian vineyard near San Gimignano, a fascinating town not far from Florence.  This, we are told, is a “Super Tuscan,”  (whenever I hear that term I picture a wine bottle with a heroic cape flying out behind it), a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot grapes.  In any event, it is delicious, with lovely fruit aromas and complex tastes including dark fruits, tobacco, and more.  It is dry and tannic, and we buy two bottles, one to give to my other brother and another to bring to our daughter’s house when we go there for dinner.

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Italian wine in a New York State winery? Yes, when the owner of the winery also owns property in Tuscany.

  1. Hunt Country Red $18

Since this is their blend, it changes year to year, and the current iteration is a mix of 55% cabernet franc, 40% merlot, and 5% syrah, with again some grapes coming from California.  The server says he defines this wine as a wine to have on “any day that ends with a y.”  Ha.  It is their top selling red, and we can see why, as it is an easy to drink, fruity red, with lots of cabernet franc flavors like blueberry and plums.  I say a good pizza wine, and my brother says “good with stuff.”

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Looks like a hunt on the label…

  1. 2013 Merlot Proprietor’s Special Reserve $25

Pellegrini strikes again—all the grapes for this wine are from there.  We decide this is a wine that needs to be served with food, and just then our server brings out a little plate of bread cubes and olive oil (which they just happen to sell there).  Definitely better with food, but still rather earthy, with a chemical basement smell.  Not our favorite.

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We had the upstairs lounge to ourselves.

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The view from the upstairs balcony

Reasons to visit:  you are in the Catskills and you’d like to find a nice winery for a tasting; the Tocai Friulano, the Villa Pillo Borgoforte, the Hunt Country Red; a pleasant outdoor upstairs balcony where you can sip a glass of wine while looking at beautiful scenery.

Ten Venues for Outdoor Wining

Memorial Day Weekend means summer really is beginning, so I thought this would be the right time to tell you about my favorite places for outdoor sipping on the North Fork.  There is something very civilized about sitting in the sun (or under an umbrella), sipping a lovely chilled white or rosé, or even a well-rounded red, enjoying the warm breezes, possibly snacking on some bread and cheese.  If that experience includes a pretty view over farm fields and vineyards, so much the better.

Almost all of the tasting rooms augment their indoor seating with outdoor areas in the summer, from Jamesport’s capacious lawn to Waters Crest’s two umbrella tables in the parking lot, but some are pleasanter than others.  Following this you will find a list of my favorites, starting with a few I particularly enjoy, and then others in no real order.  I also mention a wine or two I particularly recommend for sipping, but in a few cases it has been a year or more since I went there, so you may not find the same vintages on offer.  Note that some places encourage you to bring your own picnic, while others discourage or forbid it, so I suggest you check the web sites before you go.  The ones which don’t allow you to bring your own snacks generally sell their own.  If you’re putting together a bread and cheese picnic, you won’t do better than Love Lane Cheese Shop in Mattituck, which carries a wide variety of excellent cheeses and baguettes from Tom Cat bakery.  Stop at Harbes for some berries or Wickham for peaches and you’re set.

Shady nook at Croteaux.

Shady nook at Croteaux.

1)       Croteaux

This is absolutely my favorite outdoor tasting area, plus all the wines are perfect for summer sipping.  You go through the tiny tasting room into a tree and flower-filled patio area, with comfortable Adirondack chairs and shady nooks.  Two of my favorite rosés are the Merlot 314 and the Violet, but any of them would work.  I also recommend their snack of goat cheese and baguette.

Adirondack chairs, with their wide arms, are perfect for tastings in Croteaux's yard.

Adirondack chairs, with their wide arms, are perfect for tastings in Croteaux’s yard.

2)      Old Field

If you like a rustic setting, this is the place!  Calico cloths on the tables plus chickens and ducks roaming around the old barns on the property really make you feel you are far from city life.  Though I don’t think any Long Island rosés are better than Croteaux’s, the Cacklin Rosé 09 (probably will be a new vintage by now) was lovely.

3)      Mattebella

Picnic tables and umbrella-shaded tables dot an expansive patio area looking out over the grape vines.  We liked the ‘08 Chardonnay and the ‘08 Old World Blend.  The last time we were there, small snacks accompanied some of the wines on the tasting menu.

Part of the lawn at Jamesport.

Part of the lawn at Jamesport.

4)      Jamesport

Jamesport is the perfect place to come if your group includes children who would like some space to roam around, or even dogs (as long as they are on the leash).  Their large backyard lawn, with a variety of seating or picnic areas, some in shade and others in the sun, is perfect, and they sell thin crust pizzas made in an outdoor stone oven and freshly opened oysters, among other treats.  Their Sauvignon Blanc goes particularly well with oysters.

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard at Pellegrini.

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard at Pellegrini.

5)      Pellegrini

Here the outdoor seating varies from pleasant spots out on the lawn or the interior courtyard to a few tables overlooking the vineyard.  What makes this a good place for an outdoor tasting (rather than just a glass of wine) is that they will give you your entire tasting on a tray, carefully labeled, so you can sit and sample at your leisure.  If you’re going for just a glass, we really like their Petit Verdot, which would pair well with brie and baguette.

6)      Paumanok

Paumanok is another place that often features oysters, though not as reliably as Jamesport.  They have a pleasant porch out back of the tasting room which looks out over the vines and fields.  The 2011 Festival Chardonnay was a good match for the oysters, though they may have a new vintage by now.

The deck at One Woman

The deck at One Woman

7)      One Woman

This is a small winery with a small porch which wraps around the tiny tasting room.  You are surrounded by the vines and a large field of grass as you sit and taste.  We found the One Woman Tribute ’11 to be a good sipping wine, and we are in love with the 2012 Grüner Veltliner.

8)      Comtesse Thérèse

This is another winery with a bit of a French accent, and outdoor tastings are in the charmingly disheveled intimate garden behind the Comtesse Thérèse Bistro.  Though the setting is pleasant, we found the service a bit lackluster our last time in the garden, though that could certainly have changed.  The 2011 Chardonnay was a super sipper.

9)      Shinn

Although it was too chilly to sit outdoors on the day we went there, we did admire Shinn’s remodeled outdoor seating area, with comfortable-looking chairs and a nice little snack menu. I’d recommend First Fruit for a sipping wine.

Outdoor area at Shinn

Outdoor area at Shinn

10)   Pugliese

With a pretty little pond and trellis-shaded picnic tables, Pugliese has created a very attractive outdoor seating area.  If it’s not overrun with limo groups, I’d recommend you go there with some cheese and crackers and get the Bella Domenica, a summery red.

Pretty pond at Pugliese

Pretty pond at Pugliese

P.S.  Just visited Mattebella for the first time in two years and their improved outdoor area means they should be added to this post!  (See review for details.)

 

Wine Clubbing: Pellegrini Vineyards March 29, 2014

Chilly, rainy, dank, gray:  We really want winter to end and spring to come!  As we drive past the wineries, we note that despite the unpromising weather some have quite a few cars and limos—and even a bus or two—parked outside.  Pellegrini, however, is very quiet, as we stop in to pick up our wine club shipment and taste the wines included in it.

We take our tasting of four reds to a table and sip and chat and listen to a lively group ask their server questions such as the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Asking questions of your server is a great way to increase your understanding of wines, as we’ve found.

If you want a more detailed description of the winery, check out my entry from September 7, 2013.

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

1)       2007 Merlot                      $19.99

We start with the Merlot, which is included for no extra charge in every tasting, and is also a wine club selection.  This is actually a bit of a blend; though it is 90% Merlot it also includes 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  It is aged 18 months in French oak, and, like Pellegrini reds in general, is somewhat high in alcohol: 13.9%.  The aroma combines cherries and pine and what is often described as “forest floor.”  It is quite tannic, and my husband says his tongue feels like it needs to be brushed.  My feeling is that it would be good with food, though not for sipping, and indeed our club shipment includes a recipe for Merlot Pot Roast with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.  Pasta would also do.

2)      2010 Cabernet Sauvignon            $29.99

Another blend, despite the name, this one is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, aged 19 months in French oak, with 13.6% alcohol.  The aroma is lovely, a sweet berry smell with just a trace of that Long Island earthiness.  Though not tannic, it is dry, with nice fruit, and definitely sippable.  As it is also in our club box, I envision sipping it by the fire next fall—or maybe even today, given the weather!

3)      2010 Petit Verdot                            $49.99

Lovely dark color on this one, which is 98% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot.  Actually, many wines—so I have been told—are at least a small percentage Merlot.  As they age in the cask, some of the wine evaporates (“the angel’s share”) and so many wine makers use Merlot to top them off.  In any event, our tasting notes suggest decanting this one for at least an hour, which has not been done today—our server just opened the bottle—so the taste might be quite different than what we sense.  We smell an earthy, almost mushroomy odor, but the wine itself is delicious.  Though it lacks the depth of flavor a truly great wine, this would be a fine wine to serve with a gourmet dinner, like boeuf bourguignon.  We plan to cellar this for a couple of years (assuming we remember and don’t grab it before then!).

4)      2010 Vintner’s Pride                       $49.99

This is, notes my tasting pal, a Right Bank Bordeaux—60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot—aged 20 months in French oak.  The aroma is not very fruity, with a touch of pine and maybe cinnamon, less earthy than the others.  The wine is also not very fruity, though it is good, with some tannins, and, we decide, would also be better with food.  A friend recently described a wine-tasting course she took, and commented how differently one wine could taste depending on which foods it was paired with.  We agree!

Reasons to visit:  Good reds; reasonably priced Merlot, which is almost always on sale for about $15 per bottle if you buy three; pleasant tasting room; ability to take your tray of tastes to a table; oyster cracker packets included with each tasting so you can clear your palateENTER.

 

Pellegrini Vineyards September 7, 2013

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

pel menu

Friends often ask me, “What’s the best vineyard on the North Fork?”  My general answer is, “It depends on what you like.”  However, probably the best all-around vineyard is Pellegrini, for several reasons.  It is large enough so that if you go with a group you will be able to find a table where you can all sit together.  It is small enough so that you can stand at the bar and have a good conversation about the wines with the servers.  Both the whites and the reds are good, though we tend to prefer their reds, which we feel are better than the general run of reds.  It does lack the somewhat frenetic party atmosphere of some places, however, and they tend to focus on the wines rather than agritainment.  Oh, and many of the wines are reasonably priced for the North Fork.

Pellegrini is also good for a group because if you like you can mark your selections on a clearly laid out menu that is also a map telling you in what order to drink the wines (top to bottom, left to right) and take the tray to a table outside overlooking the vineyards, which we did.  One of the friends in our group of eight had brought along bread and cheese and hummus, so we had a lovely afternoon tasting, laughing, and snacking.

The tasting menu has a variety of options.  The Bar Tasting is $6 and gives you three one-ounce pours which you can choose from a menu of ten wines to be drunk at the bar.  The Flight Tasting is $12, and gives you three two-ounce pours, plus a one-ounce “complimentary” pour of their rosé, chosen from 13 options, which you then take to a table.   There’s also a Vintner’s Flight for $14, four one-ounce pours of higher-priced wines, and a Wine and Chocolate Flight for $16 for four reds plus chocolates.

As wine club members, we were entitled to four free Flight tastings, which worked perfectly, since all the couples were happy to share.  Since we belong to the only-red-wine category of the club, we decided to taste some of their whites.  Amongst the group, we tried quite a few wines, so I’ll be adding in some notes from other people as well.

A tray of whites, with one rose.

A tray of whites, with one rose.

  1. East End Select Rosé                                                                                      $14.99

This is the “complimentary” taste, a steel-fermented blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  As usual, we compared it to Croteaux’s rosés, and it is good, but not as good.  It has lots of the strawberry aroma and taste one expects in a rosé, but not much else.  Our friend characterized it as a “meet and greet” wine, nice to have at a barbeque on a sunny day.

2. 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Gewürztraminer                                         $19.99

I detect some of that cat pee smell which Gewürztraminer often has.  We taste honey, but it is not too sweet, with some nice fruity notes.

3, 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Stainless Steel Chardonnay                   $19.99

Nice crisp apple taste, but a bit too sweet is the word on this one.  We still prefer the Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

4. 2012 Pellegrini Vineyards Medley White                                                        $21.99

Another steel-fermented wine, this one is a blend of 59% Sauvignon Blanc and 41% Chardonnay.  I get a mineral aroma, perhaps of wet rock.  It tastes fine, however, with a balance of sweet and acid, with perhaps too much sourness at the end.

I have a few notes on other wines from my friends.  Meanwhile, the non-drinker in the group had this to say, as he watched us carefully sip and discuss each taste, “If people chose their mates as carefully as they taste wine, there would be fewer divorces.”

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard.

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard.

5.  2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Petit Verdot                                                  $39.99

As I’ve said, we like their reds, and this, as Rod Serling used to say, is a case in point.  A blend of 93% Petit Verdot, 6$ Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak for 20 months, this is a lovely wine, and the favorite of the group.  It is somewhat earthy and leathery, but quite richly fruited.

6. 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Cabernet Franc                                            $23.99

My friend sniffs and says, “Coffee, chocolate, pepper!”  Those elements are in the taste as well, plus lots of cherry.  She’d like it with pizza which, since she makes her own, is high praise.

7. 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon                                  $24.99

This one, according to the group, is a bit too acidic to drink on its own, but would be good with food.  Nice berry flavors with some peppery notes at the end.

8. 2010 Vintner’s Pride Encore                                                                        $49.99

Another blend, this one is 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Petit Verdot.  Light and fruity, everyone says, and dry, with basically no finish.

pel bottle

After the tastes, one friend buys a bottle of the Petit Verdot, which we happily share as we munch on Catapano Farms goat cheese and enjoy the cool and sunny late summer afternoon.

Inside the tasting room.

Inside the tasting room.

Reasons to visit:  good all-around winery, good reds, pleasant atmosphere, good for a group or for just a couple, the Petit Verdot.

pel view

Pellegrini Vineyard

June 16, 2012

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/site/

We belong to Pellegrini’s wine club (a story I will tell some time), so we are here to pick up our latest shipment.  It is a beautiful warm, sunny day.  Judy, the diminutive doyenne of the tasting room, remembers us and that we prefer their reds. Pellegrini seems to strike a good balance between being a venue for limo crowds and a place for serious tasters, with a nice-sized tasting room with a few tables and chairs, plus a bar, and lots of outdoor space both under the pergola and out on the lawn.  One time when we stopped here with friends and their little boys, the boys played happily on the lawn while we brought our flights to a table where we could watch them.  As wine club members, our tastings are free, but we opt for just 4 tastes to check out the new vintages, with a bit of guidance from Judy, who is always very well-informed and passionate about the wines.  (They have different levels of tastings, including three one-ounce pours for $4.)

1)      2009 Select Chardonnay $14.99

This is an 85% steel, 15% oak aged blend, a pleasant combination which avoids the hazards of over-oaking while still picking up that slight vanilla/woodsy aroma from the oak.  The aroma has notes of mineral and vegetables as well as oak.  This is not a sipping wine, with a tart sour-apple taste, but it would be good with, for example, seafood in a cream sauce.

2)      2010 Gewürztraminer    $19.99

This is not our favorite gewurtz—too sweet, always a hazard with this grape.  The aroma reminds me of the water in a flower vase when you have left the flowers in too long.

3)      2008 Steakhouse Red  $16.99

This is a blend of 71% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, and 3% cabernet franc.  Though this is called Steakhouse, we feel it is too light to stand up to steak, though it would be fine with pork or lamb chops, as it has enough acidity to complement these meats.  The aroma combines blackberry and wood, as does the taste.

4)      2007 Vintner’s Pride Encore      $39.99

Another blend—47% merlot, 32% cab franc, 13% cab sauv, 8% petit verdot—or in other words, a Bordeaux.  The aroma is not assertive, but has some berry in it.  The flavor is delicious, with lots of ripe berry, but not too sweet.  If we wanted to add a somewhat pricey red to our cellar, we would have bought it, but we don’t need any right now.  I bet it will age very nicely.

Reasons to visit:  really good all-around winery that strikes a balance between big and small; good wines, especially the reds (rare for Long Island); good servers; pretty setting.