Diliberto Winery: A Trip to Sunny Italy February 2, 2019

Diliberto Winery:  A Trip to Sunny Italy                   February 2, 2019



The murals help you imaging you’re in Italy.

To celebrate Groundhog Day, we decided to take a trip to Italy—or at least as close as you can get on the North Fork.  We love the décor at Diliberto’s winery, where the trompe l’oeil effect of the murals reminds us of sitting in a café in a small Italian town’s main square, one of our favorite activities in Italy.  The sounds of Italian opera or pop music and the video on the screen over the piano showing scenes of the Italian countryside add to the immersive effect, a nice antidote to the recent sub-zero wind chills we’ve experienced.


Note the sign on the “building”: Trattoria Diliberto.

In addition, the room was filled with the delicious scent of freshly made pizza, which every table but ours was enjoying.  The kitchen is almost as big as the tasting room, and they have a pizza oven where they make thin crust pizzas as well as other Italian treats (no outside food allowed).  The only problem with the pizzas was that I had trouble smelling the wines over its aroma.


The screen shows “Visions of Italy,” a series of flyovers of Italian cities and countryside, originally produced for PBS.

The tasting room is quite small, but in the summer they have a sizeable outside area, as well as a plastic-enclosed porch for mild days.  No big groups allowed, and, most emphatically, no children. In the winter, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays, but check their web page, since on some Sundays they feature “Sundays with Grandma,”  which involves a four-course Italian meal and live music.


There are real roses on the tables, a classy touch.

The menu has five wines, and oddly offers three tastes for $16, or $6 per taste.  Our server, who was simply a server, with not much to say about the wines, first asked if we wanted to do two $16 tastings, until we pointed out that there were only five wines.  “Oops,” she said, “I forgot we don’t have the rosé any more.”  So we paid $28 for our five tastes, which were delivered to our table all at once, in nice little round-bottomed glasses.  She did come back to our table periodically to check on how we were liking the wines and offer us some water.


Our panoply of tastes–we had already taken a couple of sips of the chardonnay.

Now that the prognosticating groundhogs haven’t seen their shadows, perhaps soon we’ll be enjoying some warm, Italian-like weather.


  1. 2017 Chardonnay $32

This is a lightly oaked chardonnay, which spends five months in oak barrels, so it is not too butterscotchy.  The taste reminds me of thyme honey, which is herbier than clover honey, plus a touch of lemon.  Not bad, but not a style of chard I particularly like.  My husband says he could see it as a summer sipper on the deck.


  1.  2017 Sauvignon Blanc                $30

We like the pretty bright yellow color of this wine, which is steel fermented.  It’s a pretty typical North Fork sauvignon blanc, with crisp green apple and lemongrass flavors, a good oyster wine.  By the way, you may notice that the prices are a bit high here. My guess is that, as such a small winery, they lack the advantage of larger scale places, which can distribute the cost of winemaking over more bottles.


  1. 2014 Merlot $32

In general, I think Diliberto does better with his reds.  This merlot is rather light, with lots of that typical cherry flavor and some tannins.  It is served a bit too cold.  According to the menu, it is aged just one year, in a mix of new and used French oak, which might account for why it seems so light.  It seems not quite balanced to me, though it would be a fine wine to have with pizza, especially one made without tomato sauce.


  1. 2016 Cantina $30

A cantina is usually a bar, or an informal kind of restaurant, and this wine would go fine in such a place.  A blend of 50/50 merlot and cabernet franc, it combines the cherry and pepper tastes of the two, with some hints of blackberry.  Though it has more body than the merlot, I find the finish evanesces, though the menu says it has a “smooth, lingering finished” (sic—we used my pen to correct our copies).  It’s another perfectly fine wine, and again would go well with pizza or pasta.


Even the labels are a nod to the Dilibertos’ Italian heritage.

  1. 2015 Tre $42

If I were ordering pizza and a glass of wine, this is the one I would get, even though it is $17 per glass.  As you might guess from the name, this is a blend of three grapes:  65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc.  It has a lovely dark color and an aroma of tobacco, spice, and candy.  It tastes good, with cherry and dark chocolate flavors and enough tannins that I think it could age some more and be even better.  It could even stand up to steak or lamb chops.


They also lead tours of Italy.

Reasons to visit:  you like a small, intimate setting; you want to pretend you are in Italy; you like listening to opera while you sip; you appreciate a child-free setting; the Cantina and the Tre; you want a thin-crust pizza for lunch.



The grounds include a room for overnight stays.

Diliberto Winery: Sal’s Place April 16, 2016


A view to the vines, still pretty bare.

A view to the vines, still pretty bare.

Hang out in Diliberto’s tasting room for more than about ten minutes and you are likely to meet Mr. Salvatore Diliberto himself.  He may emerge from the kitchen with a dusting of flour on his shirt from the thin-crust pizza he makes or enter from the cellar, where he has been guiding a barrel tasting.  We’ve been there enough times that he recognizes us, so he sat down at our table to chat for a few minutes.  He’s a friendly guy, and passionate about his wine-making.

The room feels like a piazza in Tuscany--almost.

The room feels like a piazza in Tuscany–almost.

He also loves Italy, as you can tell from the moment you enter the cozy tasting room (augmented by a semi-enclosed outdoor patio) with its trompe l’oeil murals of a “Tuscan hill town” and its sound track of Italian pop music or opera.  Scenes from an aerial film of Italy are projected on a flat screen TV over the piano which is sometimes used for performances of live opera, on occasion sung by Sal himself.  In addition, he guides tours of the Campania region of Italy.  We think it might be fun to go on one of his tours, as we have enjoyed several cooking demos he has given in the tasting room.

It's fun to look over at the video and try to identify which town is being shown.  Oh look, that's Siena!

It’s fun to look over at the video and try to identify which town is being shown. Oh look, that’s Sienna!  A marble quarry?  Pisa and its Leaning Tower!

Your wine tasting, which is brought to your table in attractive round-bottomed glasses, is accompanied by a snack of your choice from the menu.  We had olives and cheese and crackers.  You can choose three wines for $13 or five for $21.  There are six wines on the menu, so we opted to share a tasting of five, which today did not include the rosé.  We also noted that glasses of wine are $10, so if you wanted to come for a lunch of pizza and a glass of wine you could have lunch for $37—which we saw two twenty-something couples doing (note that the winery is adults-only, no children allowed).  Not a bad deal for the North Fork.



  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc   $29

We like the pleasantly flowery aroma and dryness of this steel-fermented wine.  It is lemony with nice acidity, and tastes better once our snack arrives and we drink it with the provolone and crackers.

The line-up

The line-up

  1. 2014 Chardonnay $30

This oaked chard is described on the menu as “buttery,” and we agree.  In general I prefer un-oaked chards, but this one is nice.  You can smell the vanilla from the oak casks, and the wine is a bit sweet, so we think lots of people would like it.  I would not advise eating olives with it, however, as the two tastes do not enhance each other.


  1. 2013 Merlot $29

Soft, is the first word I think of to describe the aroma of this rather typical merlot, and green is what I think of the taste.  It’s a bit thin, a bit tannic, and overall just okay.  We notice some sediment in the glass, and would like to ask Sal about it, but he has disappeared into the kitchen from which two freshly baked pizzas soon emerge.


  1. 2014 Cantina $27

If you think of a casual red and white checked tablecloth Italian restaurant, you will be right on track for the taste of this wine.  We like it, and think it would pair beautifully with pizza or pasta.  The aroma has a slight note of hay or grass, the taste of this mixture of half merlot, half cabernet franc is more rounded than the merlot by itself.  My husband says “balanced,” and I agree, though he disputes my thought of sweet stewed prunes for the taste.  It goes great with the cheese.  We buy a bottle.

  1. 2013 TRE $37

Tre means three, and there are three grapes in this Right Bank Bordeaux-style wine:  65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc.  At first we’re not bowled over, but actually as the wine sits we like it better.  Perhaps it needs more aging, as the menu suggests.  We smell black cherry, but the taste lacks depth.  Not bad, but not worth the price.

Array of bottles

Array of bottles

Reasons to visit:  a calm, pretty room in which to sip wine or enjoy lunch; the sauvignon blanc and the Cantina; the pizza; snacks; you can pretend you’re in Italy; Sal.

View to the patio

View to the patio



Diliberto Winery: Intimate and Friendly, Plus Pizza 12/13/14


The entrance to the tasting room

The entrance to the tasting room

The strains of Italian opera waft out into the cold December air as we open the door to Diliberto Winery.  A trompe l’oeil street scene of an Italian village greets our eyes as we are warmly welcomed to the small tasting room (expanded in summer by a wrap-around patio).  We had been here fairly frequently in the past, but even though it’s now been over a year, Sal Diliberto remembers us and stops by our table to chat.  He’s been sitting at another table with a couple of friends who have been eating one of his thin-crust pizzas for lunch.  A man who loves cooking and good food as much as he loves making wine, Sal Diliberto is fun to talk to.  We share stories of eating in Italy.

Christmas decorations, and bags of home made Italian food to prepare at home

Christmas decorations, and bags of home made Italian food to prepare at home

At our table, we contemplate the menu of tastings.  There are two choices:  The Regular Tasting, of four wines for $12 or the Premium Tasting, of three wines for $15.  There is also a menu of pizzas ($17 each), cheese trays, or olives.  (No outside food is allowed—and no children, either.  When Sal and Maryann’s grandchildren run in for a moment, they are affectionately but quickly shooed out.)  We opt to do one tasting of each, alternating as we go.  I’ll indicate the Premium wines with a *.

  1. 2009 Chardonnay $26

We like the aroma—of sugar cookies and cinnamon—better than the taste, which has quite a lot of acidity and lemon flavor.  Although we don’t find it appealing, it might be better with food.

  1.  *2003 Sauvignon Blanc                $29

On the other hand, we like this, the only other white on the menus, very much.  The wine appears a bit hazy in the glass, so I’m not sure whether or not it has been filtered.  We get layers of flavor—the oak it was aged in, but also traces of sweetness.  Gooseberry pie flavored with vanilla, I say, at which my husband challenges me to say when I ever had a gooseberry.  No really, I did, once.  It would be lovely with salmon, or with somewhat spicy chicken.  We buy two bottles and get a bit of a discount, since we had done the tastings.

Art on the label--at first, I thought they were looking at cell phones!

Art on the label–at first, I thought they were looking at cell phones!

  1. *2013 Cantina                 $27

This is a new release, a 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet franc.  We scent spice and berries, with some earthiness, though not that barnyard flavor.  It is a good pasta or pizza wine.

  1. 2012 Merlot                     $27

Aroma of cherry and a taste of not really ripe cherry make this just an average Long Island merlot.

  1. 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon $29

Up to now we’ve been served our wines in pairs—with a fresh glass each time, always a nice touch—but this time we opt to just take one, since our next two tastes will be the two vintages of Tre.   We like the cab sauv, though it lacks depth.  It has lots of fruit smells, and tastes of plums that are not quite ripe.  I could see this with lamb chops, hot from the grill.

The pour is fairly generous.

The pour is fairly generous.

  1. 2012 Tre $34

Here is their Bordeaux blend, a Right Bank style, because it is primarily merlot.  It is 65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc.  A sniff reveals aromas of wood and fruit, perhaps pine and berries.  Though there aren’t many layers of taste it is very nice, with some tannins.

  1. *2013 Tre $37

This blends the same wines in the same proportions as the 2012, but what a difference!  It is clearly our favorite of the day, with yummy fruit and a beautiful balance of flavors. It is not at all tannic, so I’m not sure how long it would last, but at the moment it is delicious.

The piano is used for live music--which sometimes includes Sal, a true Renaissance man, singing opera.

The piano is used for live music–which sometimes includes Sal, a true Renaissance man, singing opera.

Reasons to Visit:  the best-looking tasting room, especially if, like us, you love Italy; the 03 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Tre; the warmth and friendliness of Sal and Maryann; Sal’s pizza (we didn’t have it this time, but we’ve sampled it in the past).  Oh, and they have a little apartment they rent for $250 per night.d sign

Squint and you can pretend you're sitting in a piazza in Italy.

Squint and you can pretend you’re sitting in a piazza in Italy.