The Old Field: “Next Time, Bring a Picnic!” June 23, 2019

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The expansive picnic grounds are very inviting.

https://theoldfield.com/

The parting words from our excellent server were, “Next time, bring a picnic!” This was advice which many others seem to have followed, as we noted several groups at picnic tables scattered about the grounds, enjoying bountiful repasts along with glasses of Old Field wine.  Since many wineries now request that you not bring outside food, a great reason to visit Old Field is to picnic on the lovely grounds, enjoying the chickens and ducks that wander at will and the pretty scenery, punctuated by historic buildings. 

Historic buildings? Yes, some of them date to the 1860s, as the current owners are the sixth generation of the family to farm this land.  They are particularly proud of the restored Ice House, which may be reserved for small parties (I would say ten is about the limit.), and which overlooks a pretty pond. Speaking of parties, they were also gearing up to host a wedding—we could just see the tents down near the waterfront—of 250 guests. 

We came with friends, and sat on the rustic deck for our tasting.  One friend engaged our server in conversation about the farm, learning that it spans 23 acres, with about ten devoted to grapes.  She also spoke fondly of the family of owners, who are very much hands-on, in both the field and the winery.  At harvest time, she said, she helps hand-harvest the grapes.

Old Field offers eight wines to taste, in varied configurations.  You can do Chilled, three whites and a rosé, for $12; Red, four reds for $13; Everyday, four of their lower priced wines, mixed whites and reds, for $10; or Topflight, four of their higher priced wines, again mixed whites and reds, for $13.  We decided that the three of us (one opted not to drink) would share one each of the Chilled and Red tastings, which would allow us to sample all of their wares.  Our server Irene, who had already become a pal, told us she would divide each taste between two glasses, but I have to say, looking at the size of the pour, that we got a very good deal.

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The bar.

As we sat and sipped and chatted, admiring the pretty chickens—our friends have raised chickens, and so were quite appreciative—we decided that, regardless of the wine, this was a lovely setting in which to spend the nicest day so far of the summer (as one friend kept asserting, even though summer had just started). 

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One of the tables on the rustic deck.

1.        2016 Mostly Steel Chardonnay $22

The name “Mostly Steel” refers to the fact that they use 10% oaked chardonnay in this wine, which has a green apple scent, and tastes of mineral, salt, and citrus, with just a touch of what our friend characterized as “nut butter.”

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2.       2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay       $28

Because this is fermented in neutral—or used—oak barrels, this is not too buttery.  I do get the wood taste, however, which you would recognize if you have ever chewed on a pencil.  My husband likes it better than I do.  We detect some nut smells, as well as lemon.  The taste ends with a mild citrus flavor, like Meyer lemons.

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3.       2017 Charging Goose Sauvignon Blanc    $28

Old Field likes to acknowledge their feathered friends in the names of their wines, hence the name of this one, as well as the image of a goose on the label.  This is an unfiltered wine, which means you can see tiny bits of grape floating in the bottle, and also means secondary fermentation may take place in the bottle.  I like this the best of the whites.  It has a bit of a tingle on the tongue, and tropical fruit tastes, like kiwi and guava and pineapple.  Our friend thinks it smells a bit like cider, and I agree, adding that the aroma is a bit funky.  It would go well with local bluefish, which I am cooking for dinner.

4.       2016 Cacklin’ Rosé          $22

Irene tells us that this is a dry rosé, in the French style, and spends eight hours on the skins of the merlot grapes from which it is made.  It doesn’t have much aroma, and the taste is dry, slightly acidic, though sweet at the end.  Out friend asserts it has a banana taste.  I don’t get that, and offer “tangerine.”  Well, they say there are no wrong answers when it comes to the question of what you taste in wine.

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5.       2016 Dashing Duck Red Meritage             $16

This is their Bordeaux blend, a mixture of merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, and pinot noir.  The aroma is sweet, reminding us, we all agree, of a fruit punch.  Our friend asserts it recalls the taste of the water her mother would soak raisins in overnight, to plump them.  I don’t know about that, but it is certainly a light red, with no body.  One of us notes that it is a good red for people who don’t actually like red wine.

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6.       2014 Rooster Tail            $16

90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc, this has the expected cherry taste and aroma of a merlot, with a slightly funky aroma.  We agree to characterize it as a “spaghetti wine.” 

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An historic photo of the Old Field Ice House is featured on the label of the wine.

7.       2014 Ice House Rescue Cabernet Franc               $45

Why the name?  They used the proceeds from the sale of this wine to finance the restoration of the ice house.  Back before there was refrigeration, people would harvest blocks of ice in the winter and store it, insulated with hay, in ice houses. This is another fairly simple red, slightly fruity, with a touch of nutmeg, plus aromas of dark fruits. It would be okay with lamb chops.

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8.       2013 Merlot      $28

I detect a scent that it takes me some time to identify, and which I decide is camphor, mixed with cherry.  There’s also a touch of something chemical at the end of the taste, though primarily it tastes of black cherry.

9.       2014 Pinot Noir

Extra!  Irene notes that, when she has an open bottle of this, she likes to share it, though usually it is only for wine club members.  Good move.  We like this the best of the reds.  It is fairly complex, with some layers of flavor, and pleasant vegetal aromas of asparagus and cut grass.

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Reasons to visit:  Lovely picnic grounds, where you can bring your own food and purchase wines to drink; if I were bringing a seafood picnic, I’d get the sauvignon blanc to drink; if I were eating cheeses and charcuterie, I might still get that, or maybe the Rooster Tail; generous pour; chickens and ducks to watch running around.

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Old Field may be the most photogenic winery on the North Fork.

Old Field Vineyards:  Counting their Chickens      August 11, 2017

http://www.theoldfield.com/

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If you want to feel as though you are really out in the country, head almost all the way to Greenport and stop into the Old Field Vineyards, through the gate, past the barn and the Port-a-Pottie, to the rustic tasting room and open porch.  Old Field is one of our favorite wineries to bring guests when the summer weather cooperates, since their porch is a charming place to sit and have a tasting as you look out onto the capacious lawn and watch children and chickens running around.  Yes, chickens—and also roosters and a rather charismatic duck—have free rein of the place during the week (on weekends, when it is more crowded, they tend to be kept in the coop), and they sometimes will wander up onto the porch, where they thought my cousin’s hat straw might have been edible.

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Off in the distance you can see the picnic tables and kids running around.

It wasn’t, but the wines were quite potable.  The menu offers several options:  Sample our Rosés (2) for $4.00, Sample our Chardonnays (2) for $6.00, Sample our Reds (4) for $12.00, or Sample our Everyday Mixed Flight (4) for $10.00.  We had just eaten many oysters in Greenport at the Little Creek Oyster Farm, so we didn’t need snacks, but this is one place where you may bring a snack, or even a picnic.  One cousin, S., wanted to try one rosé and one chardonnay, and the friendly and accommodating server told her that was no problem.  The other cousin, R., opted for the red tasting, and we chose the mixed one, so we were able to try all the wines—plus one extra which was not included!

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I hope people heed this sign.

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One rooster.

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Another rooster.

We chatted with our server about the fowl, and he noted that they actually serve a purpose, providing both pest control, as they gobble up bugs, and fertilizer for the vines.  If you go on their web site, you will see that this is not the only part of their dedication to all things natural.  The vineyard also has an interesting family history, so it is worthwhile to ask about it. We were busy chatting amongst ourselves this time, so we didn’t get into those stories.  Also note that the following descriptions of the wines are not exactly in the order in which they appear on the menu, but are rather in the order in which we tasted them.

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  1. 2014 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay      $28

This was one cousin’s first taste, and she liked it.  The aroma is butterscotch-y, but the taste is not too buttery, since it is a blend of oak and steel fermented chards.  It has some light citrus notes as well.

  1. Blush de Noir $18

Our tasting began with this rosé made from pinot noir grapes.  We all agreed it was very light, with lots of grapefruit aroma and not a lot of fruit taste, and surprisingly lemony for a rosé.  My cousin thought it could go with the pesto I had made a couple of nights ago, or seafood in a rich sauce, like scallops Alfredo.

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This chicken was quite sure my cousin’s hat was edible.

  1. 2014 Rooster Tail $20

My other cousin’s tasting started with this red, a blend of mostly merlot with a little cabernet franc.  “Nice, potable, everyday wine,” was his judgment, and we all concurred.  The aroma combines cherry and tobacco with a bit of funkiness and the taste is dry, with cherry and not a lot of fruit.  We got this one in our tasting as well.

  1. 2014 Mostly Steel Chardonnay $23

Comparing this chardonnay with the other one led to lots of conversations about oak vs. steel, and their various virtues and shortcomings.  Overall, we thought this was the preferable chard here, clean and refreshing, with some green apple taste and lots of citrus. R commented on its “up front flavor.”  S laughed that she had said the other chard smelled “woody” and this one smelled “metallic.”

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The Cacklin’ Rose is quite dark, compared to their other rose.

  1. 2014 Cacklin’ Rosé $16

Venturing on her second taste, S commented that this smelled pleasantly like “old library.”  It spends 24 hours on the skins, so is a more flavorful rosé than the other one.  We all liked it, and I noted that it tastes like macerated strawberries.

  1. 2013 Merlot $26

The server mentioned that this was made from two clones of merlot, so we asked him to explain what that meant.  They used to have two different clones of merlot, each grown in a separate field, but they discovered that one grew better than the other, so the weaker one was ripped out.  As a result, this particular mixture ends as of 2015.  Too bad, because it was quite yummy.  In fact, we bought two bottles of it.  It has lots of fruit, and S said she tasted cranberry, and we added yes, and also ripe cherries.

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I love the mis-matched table clothes on the bar.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $38

We all agreed that this, from R’s tasting, was the weakest of the reds, described by R as “watery.”  It evanesces, I added, making use of my favorite word this summer.  It has an aroma of red fruits and forest floor.

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  1. 2010 Commodore Perry $38

Named for the illustrious ancestor of the current owners of the vineyard, this is a wine they only make in good years.  Cherry, tobacco, chocolate, thyme, juniper or bay leaf were some of the taste descriptors we used for this merlot.  Also, “serious legs” and “very good.”  We also learned that it was quite appropriate to name a wine for Commodore Perry, since he was known to carry wine with him on his voyages to give as gifts.

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  1. 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

Speaking of gifts, after we paid for our tastings and the two bottles we bought, our cousin gave our server a very nice tip, at which point he offered did we want to taste anything else?  We looked over the menu and realized that we had tasted every wine on it (nine in all, counting Rooster Tail twice).  Ah, he said, but how about this one that is not on the tasting menu, producing a bottle of Charging Goose Sauvignon Blanc.  S, noting that she had grown up on a farm, said it smelled like straw.  We all liked this, too, and decided its lemon flavor would have gone well with those oysters we had eaten earlier.

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Charging Goose? Maybe that’s why they have chickens and ducks, but no more geese.

Reasons to visit:  you want to really feel as though you are out in the country; you want a place where you can bring a picnic and let children run around; you like chickens; the Rooster Tail, the Mostly Steel Chardonnay, the Cacklin’ Rosé, the 2013 Merlot, the Commodore Perry.

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The netting on the grapes prevents the birds from eating them.

 

The Old Field: Pleasant Day in the Country June 18, 2016

http://www.theoldfield.com/

The pretty porch at Old Field.

The pretty porch at Old Field.

“I don’t want to leave,” I complained, but our friends had somewhere to go and we had errands to run before our dinner reservation, so reluctantly I left our comfy seats on the prettily rustic porch of the Old Field Vineyards.  Old Field is a great place if you want a quiet country setting where you can see ducks and chickens and the occasional goose wander by.  You can stand at the bar covered by mismatched tablecloths or go for a picnic table under the trees.  We had opted for a nice round table at the shady end of the porch, where our friends set out the snacks they had brought so we munched as we tasted.

Our table in the shade

Our table in the shade

The tasting menu offers four options:  four whites for $9, four reds for $10, four mixed for $8, or four “Weekend Gold” selections for $10.  Both couples opted to share a white and then a red, so we could discuss our opinions as we sipped.  One improvement over the last time we were here:  tastes are now served in proper wine glasses, instead of the little plastic cups they used to use.

  1. 2014 Blush de Noir         $16

“We had an event last week,” our friends said, “and served this out on the deck.  It was great.”  I can see that, as this is a very light, crisp almost white rosé with a “slatey strawberry” smell and a touch of citrus.

  1. 2013 Mostly Steel Chardonnay $20

Although our friend thought it seemed “tame” after the Blush de Noir, I quite liked this very slightly oaked chard, with just a touch of vanilla and lots of lemon flavor.  It has just enough oak to take the edge off the sometimes too acid lemon flavor a steel chard can have.

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  1. 2013 Barrel Chardonnay $28

The menu informs us that this is a new release, and spends seven months in French oak.  You can definitely smell that vanilla aroma of an oaked chard, but this again is not overly oaked.  No one, we decided, would complain if you served this.  “It’s a people’s wine,” asserts our friend, who I begin to suspect is angling to be quoted in this review.  Though I like it, I have to agree that it has no finish, and the taste does not linger.

  1. Charging Goose Sauvignon Blanc $25

The menu had listed Cacklin’ Rosé as the last of the whites, but instead they’ve changed their selections to this new release.  That’s fine with me, since I wanted to try this one anyway, and I never think anyone’s rosés measure up to Croteaux.  We get into a rather involved discussion of the smell, which we like, and compare to hay, Meyer lemon, berries, and butter.  We also like the taste, which combines berries and a mellow citrus.  When I suggest it would go well with oysters, we start to plan for our next outing to include oysters, perhaps at Old Mill during Happy Hour or at Jamesport.

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  1. Rooster Tail $18

This is their un-dated merlot all-purpose pizza and pasta red, which we have bought by the case in the past.  It is still good, especially for the price, with plenty of cherry tastes and an aroma of blackberries.  Dry.  New glasses for the reds, by the way.

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  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $36

We decide we like the smell of this one better than the taste.  Not that it is bad, just that it lacks the depth the delicious aroma would seem to promise.  It has lots of dark fruit taste, and we agree that if it were less expensive we would happily buy it.

Did you ever notice how many sheds and barns farms have?

Did you ever notice how many sheds and barns farms have?

  1. 2010 Merlot $26

“It blankets you with flavor and then gets out of town,” opines our friend, happy to see me writing down his words.  Well, he’s right.  After a slightly funky forest floor, peat mossy aroma, the taste is pleasantly cherry and other fruit, but has no staying power.  Again, like the other wines, this is a drinkable but not distinguished wine.

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  1. 2010 Commodore Perry                 $38

This one is more distinguished.  Named for the illustrious ancestor of the owners, they only make this wine in good years, and 2010 was pretty universally considered to have been a very good year for Long Island wines, especially the reds, as we had a nice long warm growing season.   We had bought and cellared the 2007 the last time we were here.  The smell is delicious, like “a leather tobacco pouch dipped in red wine,” says our eloquent friend.  Though it is a merlot, like the Rooster Tail, it has much more depth and interest.  You could have it with steak or lamb chops and it would stand up to those strong meat tastes.  It’s my favorite of the day.

One of the houses on the property

One of the houses on the property

Reasons to visit:  calm rustically bucolic setting with lots of trees and lawn space; the Blush de Noir and the Commodore Perry; a vineyard with a history worth learning about (check their web site) and admirable bio-dynamic methods.

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The Old Field: In Touch with History June 28, 2014

http://www.theoldfield.com/

The Old Field is a great place for photos, with lots of scenic farm buildings.

The Old Field is a great place for photos, with lots of scenic farm buildings.

Appropriately, The Old Field’s history matches its appealingly rustic look.  It can trace its roots as a farm back to the mid-1600s, when the land was bought from the Native Americans, according to its web site, and that’s not its only connection to history, about which more later.  We particularly enjoy coming here in the warm weather, when you can stand outside at the tasting bar or sit at a picnic table and enjoy the sight of ducks and chickens running around (the pair of ducks, by the way, are named Fred and Ethel, but I don’t know if their last name is Mertz), scenic old farm buildings, and the vineyards.  One of the owners is usually on hand as well, if you want to get into a deep discussion of the wines.  The overall vibe is relaxed and congenial, and we’ve often found ourselves conversing amiably with strangers as we sip.

The tasting bar, with its charmingly mismatched tablecloths.

The tasting bar, with its charmingly mismatched tablecloths.

The tasting menu offers three options:  A tasting of whites, four for $6; reds, three for $5; or a mixed group, four for $6.  They also offer wines by the glass—in which case you get an actual glass, rather than the somewhat unfortunate little plastic cup used for tastings—and the bottle, which we noted a group of picnickers enjoying.  We decide to share a white and a red, so as to sample all their wares.

The only thing we don't like here:  the plastic cups.

The only thing we don’t like here: the plastic cups.

1)       2012 Blush de Noir         $18

Our youthful and enthusiastic server informs us that this is a new release, a very light pink rosé made from pinot noir grapes.  It is so light that it looks like a white wine in the glass.  The aroma is mineral, with a touch of cut grass.  Very summery and pleasant, with only a little strawberry flavor, this is a nice summer drink I’d serve well iced.  $1 of the purchase price of every bottle sold goes to support an animal shelter.

2)      2011 Chardonnay             $20

Although this is primarily a steel-fermented chardonnay, a short time in oak gives it a bit of a vanilla aroma, along with what they describe as a “wet slate” smell.  If you’ve ever walked around Manhattan while the doormen are hosing off the warm concrete in front of their buildings you know the smell.  This is also a light wine, quite tart, with lots of lemon and grapefruit.  It would pair nicely with a tarragon chicken salad.

3)      2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay        $25

After six months in oak, this Chard has definite vanilla and burnt caramel aromas, and lots of pineapple taste, but is not too oaky.  Good picnic wine.

4)      2011 Cacklin’ Rosé                           $18

If you wanted to show someone how different two rosés can be, you could give them a taste of this and of the Blush de Noir, and they’d get the point right away.  Made from merlot grapes, with 24 hours on the skins, the Cacklin’ Rosé has a dark color and a distinctive smell that reminds me of cranberry juice.  Though the taste is a tad sweet for me, it is good and would make a hit as an aperitif on the porch in the summer.  I’d like it better if it had a little lemon or citrus taste.  (If you’re wondering about the name, Google Neil Diamond.)

5)      Rooster Tail                        $18

A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this is their everyday pasta and pizza wine, and it is a good member of that club, dry, with some dark fruit tastes.  Their ‘09 Cabernet Franc, by the way, has sold out.

6)      2008 Merlot                       $25

Not much aroma, berry and cinnamon tastes, fairly light for a red:  we decide the Merlot is just okay.

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7)      2007 Commodore Perry                                $40

Really?  Commodore Perry?  What’s that about?  Wasn’t he the guy who opened up trade with Japan?  And why is there a somewhat Japanese-looking sea under that ship on the label?  Here’s the other link to history I mentioned earlier.  Commodore Perry is indeed an ancestor of the family who owns the vineyard, and so they honor him by only naming their best vintages after him.  ’07 was a great year, and this Merlot shows it, with lots of flavors of dark fruit and ripe figs plus good tannins.  We buy a bottle, planning to cellar it.  We are also entertained to learn that this wine is famous in Japan, due to the name, and that Japanese tourists get very excited when they come to Old Field and see it.  In fact, one was so intrigued that he offered to design the label!

Reasons to visit:  pleasant rustic setting, with picnic tables and roaming fowl; the 2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay; the Cacklin’ Rosé; the ’07 Commodore Perry; the chance to hear stories about the history of the farm (including one cold winter day when we heard all about the resident ghosts).

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The Old Field Vineyards

7/8/12

http://www.theoldfield.com/

Old Field is a really charming place, with a rustic feel.  In the summer, you can stand on the deck outside the tasting room or sit at a picnic table surrounded by trees and look at the chickens running around (they sometimes have eggs for sale) and the old barn buildings.  The tables are covered with calico tablecloths, decorated with pretty wildflower bouquets. In the winter we have had fascinating conversations with the owner about the history of the farm and the ghosts that sometimes haunt it!  This time we are here with our son after an afternoon on the water.  They offer three tastings:  3 whites for $4, 4 reds for $6, or a mixed tasting of 5 for $7.  The servers know a lot about the wines and are fun to talk with.  Actually, almost every time we come here we end up in interesting conversations, one time with two women who were bicycling from the South Fork, across Shelter Island, and through some of the wineries. The North Fork is great for bicycling, by the way, with good bike routes and mostly level ground.

1) 2009 Chardonnay           $20

This is a mostly steel fermented chard, but some of it spends a short time in oak.  The aroma is lemon and apricot, and the flavor is pleasant, typically chardonnay.

2)  2009 Barrel Chardonnay    $25

This one has been through malolactic fermentation, and is definitely more assertive than the first white.  It is creamy but not too buttery.

3)  Rooster Tail                    $18

We’ve often bought this red by the case, as it is a good table wine and goes well with lots of meats, especially with lamb.  The aroma is berry, and the flavor black cherry/plum.

4)  Cacklin Rose 2009          $18

Chickens–cacklin–Rosey–rose–You should be humming a tune right now if you’re of a certain age.  Anyway, this is a good rose, with aromas of strawberry and watermelon and some melony sweetness, though the finish is rather sharp.

5)  Cabernet Franc 2007       $32

This one is similar to a Pinot, with an aroma of mixed berries and some mineral.  Not a sipping wine, but would be good with food, with enough tannins to stand up to steak.  Good!

6)  2005 Merlot                    $25

The Merlot was aged 24 months in French oak, and does have the typical earthy aroma of North Fork Merlots, though not unpleasantly so.  The flavor is also somewhat earthy, and we decide it would be great with roasted portobello mushrooms for some reason.  The finish is dry.

7)  2004 Merlot                  $22

This one spent 30 months in oak, and the aroma strangely reminds us of hot pepper jelly!  The flavor also has some sweet pepper notes and a bit of mustiness.

Reasons to visit:  really rustic setting–barns!  ducks!  chickens!; Rooster Tail red wine, worth buying by the case for an everyday red; laid-back feeling; sometimes you can buy eggs, too.