Sparkling Pointe: Sparkling Day May 24, 2019

https://www.sparklingpointe.com/

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Finally a beautiful day!

Finally! After weeks of unseasonably chilly rainy weather, a beautiful day arrived. Following a pleasant stroll in Greenport to check out the new shops and restaurants (We’ll be back.), we headed to Sparkling Pointe, the sparkling-wines-only vineyard in Southold.

Over the past few years we’ve noted a consistent pattern of improvement in their wines, so we were interested to see how they have progressed. Since they have a French winemaker (Gilles Martin) and use the méthode champenoise, it is no surprise to discover that their wines have a definite French orientation, though a number of their options are sweetened to American tastes. What is a surprise is the Brazilian-Carnival-themed tasting room and wine labels, which, according to the website, stem from the owners’ love of Brazil. I suppose the festive nature of sparkling wines also entered into the choice.

A sign at the entrance cautions against outside food or drinks, and allows only service animals, but they do have a good menu of snacks. We ordered two cheeses, which came with two sleeves of crackers, and took home leftovers. They also have table service, and our server was very competent and well-informed, happily expounding on wines and winemaking when we asked any questions.

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Our server explaining dosage.

On looking over the set menu, of four wines for $20, we noted that two of the options were described as rather sweet (Sugar cookie? Really?), so with our server’s help we chose four—and then a fifth—wine from the tasting list, totaling $30. That’s a bit pricey, but on the other hand we spent about an hour on their lovely terrace overlooking the grape vines, enjoying the pleasant breeze and sunshine, sipping champagne and munching on two very tasty cheeses (Hudson Valley camembert and Coach Farms Hudson Truffle). Not too shabby.

A few other notes: the tastes come in proper champagne flutes, very classy; a small gift shop features North Fork-made food items plus Brazilian-Carnival-themed décor; though we enjoyed several of the wines, they share the North Fork issue of being a bit too expensive compared to other options for sparkling wines, such as Italian Proseccos or Spanish Cavas; they charge an extra $15 over the per bottle cost if you want to order a bottle of wine to drink on the premises, though the fee is waived for wine club members.

1. 2016 Brut $30 ($4 per taste)
We started with the driest of their wines, a blend of 53% chardonnay, 31% pinot noir, and 16% pinot meunier. The smell is lovely, with floral notes plus roasted pear, and some depth and interest. I compared the taste to fresh apple juice with lemon, but my tasting buddy disagreed. However, we both agreed that it was a very pleasant, fairly dry sparkler, with nice little bubbles.

2. 2014 Blanc de Blancs $44 ($6 per taste)
Our server was quite enthusiastic about this one, naming it as a “staff favorite,” and I can see why. My husband described it as “very champagne-y,” which I first laughed at and then decided was rather apt. Though the aroma is only faintly yeasty—like walking along across the street from a bakery—the taste is crisp and clean and refreshing, with a nice balance between sweet and dry. Very drinkable on its own, and also good with our cheeses.

3. 2014 Reserve Blanc de Blancs $68 ($8 per taste)
This is another lovely choice, a delicious, well-balanced sparkler, only very slightly sweet, with aroma of honeysuckle and pear, plus a taste that combined Meyer lemon with apple pie and freshly baked bread. Our server pointed out the word “Séduction” on the label, and noted that they use that to indicate their higher end wines. I’d gladly drink this any time—if someone else bought the bottle!

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If you look carefully, you can tell this has a faint tinge of pink.

4. Blanc de Noirs $68 ($8 per taste)
A very faint tinge of pink is the result of this wine spending a little time on the skins of the 50/50 combination of pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. They don’t market this as a rosé, noted our server, which makes sense, since if you wanted a rosé you’d be disappointed, but we were pleased. Though the aroma has some notes of something slightly burnt, or chemical, the taste is pleasantly dry, with just a touch of strawberry.

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Just for fun, I used a filter on this photo.

5. NV (non-vintage) Cuvée Carneval Blanc $30 ($4 per taste)
We were not ready to leave yet, and were still enjoying the day and our cheese, so we decided to try one more taste. The Carneval line seems to include the wines they feel will most appeal to a mass audience, and I can see why. We dubbed this one a “crowd pleaser,” which I had already written in my notes when my husband called it that. A blend of 47% chardonnay, 37% white merlot, and 16% pinot noir, it also has a “liquor de dosage” of gewürztraminer, the only grape they use that is not grown on site. I wondered if they got that from One Woman, which is quite nearby, but for once our server couldn’t answer a question. He did happily describe the process of dosage, however. Though this is not a sparkler I would choose to drink, it would be quite acceptable in a toast. The aroma is of yeast and a bit of lemon, and the taste includes some minerality and a bit of lychee flavor from the gewürztraminer.

Photos of the gift shop, including Carneval-themed décor:

Reasons to visit:  beautiful setting, especially if you can sit outdoors on the terrace; tasty sparkling wines; table service that is efficient and friendly; nice menu of snacks; the Reserve Blanc de Blancs in particular, though we enjoyed all of the wines we sampled (though in the past we have had some of their sweeter wines which are just not for us).

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We enjoyed our time on the lovely terrace, looking out over the vineyard.

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

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https://www.newsday.com/

https://paper.newsday.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=b162131d-f983-4571-8d34-226583242f16&pnum=1

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Newsday ran a nice little piece, “Perfect Pairings,” about wine and food pairings. But they missed an opportunity, which Nofowineaux will attempt to remedy.  For example, they mentioned Peconic Bay oysters, but not the Long Island wines one could drink with them.  So what follows is my own list of the foods and types of wines they mentioned, updated with my own recommendations of local wines to use.

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We get a new red-wine-friendly glass with the reds.

  1. Roast chicken

Newsday says have pinot noir or an oaked chardonnay.  I say, try Castello Borghese’s or McCall’s pinot noir, or Castello’s oaked chardonnay.

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  1. Pasta with a Bolognese sauce

Chianti would be perfect, of course, and it is made with the sangiovese grape, which is found on Long Island in a few places.  Try the sangiovese from Pugliese, or the Meritage from Laurel Lake, a blend that includes sangiovese.

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The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Lobster

They say a steel fermented chardonnay or a rosé.  Of course, as soon as I hear rosé, I think of Croteaux, which has lovely dry Provençal-style rosés.  For a steel chard, my favorite is Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

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  1. Chicken Tikka Masala

Aside from my own kitchen, I don’t know anywhere on the North Fork to get Indian food.  When I make Indian food (as I did last night, making curried cauliflower and cucumber raita), I like to pair it with a slightly sweet white, which is also what Newsday suggests.  They say use a gewürztraminer, and you have three good options on the North Fork:  Osprey’s Dominion, Coffee Pot Cellars, or, my preference, One Woman.  We drank Meditazione from Channing Daughters, a delicious orange wine made from a blend that includes gewürztraminer.

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  1. Roasted White Fish

There are lots of good options for white fish fillets at Braun’s, and there’s almost always cod.  Newsday suggests a sauvignon blanc.  Almost every winery has a drinkable sauvignon blanc, but I prefer Channing Daughters to most of the others.  It is nicely dry, but has enough fruit to give it taste.  Other good ones: Diliberto’s, Duck Walk, Clovis Point, and Coffee Pot Cellars.

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  1. Rib-Eye Steak

Two sources of good beef are Wayside Market and 8 Hands (though 8 Hands doesn’t always have beef—check their web page or call before you go).  As to wines, Newsday recommends either a cabernet sauvignon or a sparkling wine (and many people believe sparkling wines go with everything).  Big reds are in short supply on the North Fork, but Laurel Lake has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that’s pretty good.  Sparkling Pointe, of course, only makes sparkling wines.  Their Brut Magnum is lovely, but if you don’t care to buy a huge bottle you could try Roanoke Vineyard’s sparkling wine.

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The sparkler and the chard

  1. Oysters

In general, I like sauvignon blancs with oysters.  I find the lemony taste of the wine complements the bivalves very nicely.  They suggest a Muscadet or a sparkling wine.  You might try the Sherwood House blanc de blancs, or one of the above suggestions.

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  1. Cauliflower Steak

As Newsday notes in its article, it is often hard to pair wine and vegetables.  They suggest a grüner veltliner with this dish, and I agree.  One Woman makes a grüner that is one of my favorite North Fork whites.

As with all suggested wine and food pairings, personal taste is paramount.  If you just don’t like red wines or white wines (but why?), just go with what you like.  A light red can go with fish or chicken, and a heavy white, like an oaked chardonnay, can go with meats.  However, I can’t picture having any white with steak.  Instead, have a beer! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sparkling Pointe: For a Celebratory Mood January 14, 2017

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

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After we came home from running errands, my husband discovered that he couldn’t find his house keys (which also meant a variety of other important keys).  We retraced our steps, becoming gloomier and gloomier.  Then…he found them!  Feeling in a celebratory mood, we decided to head to the only-sparkling-wines vineyard, Sparkling Pointe.  (Well, we don’t need much encouragment to opt for a sparkling wine.)

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Everyone there seemed to be in a celebratory mood.

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Plenty of room for more people.

The airy, modern room was filled with groups at tables, enjoying bottles of wine and various snacks they had bought at the winery (outside snacks are not allowed, but they have a nice list of cheeses and charcuterie).  The place was a bit noisy, but not unpleasantly so, and the staff behind the bar was friendly and accommodating, especially when they took note of me taking notes.  The tasting menu offers four tastes for $20.  We noticed that the menu included Cuvee Carnaval, a rosé sparkling wine which we ended up dumping last time, as it was much too sweet for us.  So I asked if it was possible to substitute the Blanc de Blanc for the Carnaval.  At first she said no, but then reconsidered and said yes.  Whew.

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The menu.

With our tasting, she included a bottle of Fiji water, which was useful for cleansing our palates between tastes.  A note about the term “sparkling wines”:  the only wines which can legally be called “champagne” are those grown in the Champagne region of France.  However, these wines are made using the same method—méthode champenoise—as in France, and are made to taste similar to French champagnes.

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Nice bubbles!

  1. 2014 Brut          $29

A blend of 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir, this is a pleasant, crisp drink.  The aroma is of lemon peel and stone or mineral, and the taste of the tiny bubbles as they burst on the tongue is of pear and citrus.  Very nice.

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  1. 2009 Brut Magnum        $75 for 1.5 liters

This one is aged in the bottle—and it’s a big bottle!—for quite a while, spending four years “sur lies” (which means the wine is aged on the lees, the bits of grapes that form a sediment), giving it a more complex and interesting taste.  It is a blend of 59% chardonnay, 31% pinot noir, 5% pinot meunier, and 5% reserve.  The aroma is warmly yeasty, with a whiff of something chemical.  The first sip seems somewhat chemical to us, too, but as it sits in the glass that dissipates and we find it quite good.  This is a sparkler you could compare to French champagnes and it wouldn’t do badly.  By the way, we get a new glass with each taste, a nice idea.

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You get a nice sized pour here.

  1. 2012 Blanc de Blanc       $44

Okay, so the Blanc de Blanc is not on the tasting menu, but we’re getting it instead of the Carnaval.  Good thing too, as it is our favorite of the day.  Made of 100% chardonnay grapes, it was also ages on the lees.  It has an aroma of honey, maybe thyme honey, and crisp small bubbles.  My tasting buddy says it “blooms in the mouth.”  I say it would make a good sipping sparkler, with tastes of citrus and just a touch of sweetness.

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  1. 2007 Brut Seduction       $72

This really reminds me of a French champagne, with an aroma of baking bread and almonds.  The taste also has hints of almonds, as well a red grapefruit. The bubbles are tiny.  Our server informs us that this spends eight years on the lees, and is a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir.  Really lovely.  Too bad it is so expensive, but the method of making these wines is labor intensive and requires lots of years of investment, so the cost is understandable.

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They don’t allow outside food, but do have a nice menu–including chocolates.

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Reasons to visit:  you feel celebratory (whether because you found your keys or for some other reason); you like sparkling wines; you feel like doing some shopping in the well-stocked boutique; in the summer you can sit outside and sip champagne…I mean sparkling wine.

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Brazilian carnival masks on display in the boutique–the owners have a connection to Brazil (hence the wine named Carnaval).

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This is the first winery I’ve ever seen with its own perfume!

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Southold Farm + Cellar: Poetry in and on a Bottle 10/3/2015

https://www.southoldfarmandcellar.com/

The entrance to the tasting shed

The entrance to the tasting shed

The Artful Dodger, Tilting at Windmills, Counting Stars, Flying and Falling—how could I, an English major, resist wines with such allusive names?  I could not, especially since I was also quite happy with what was in the bottles.  Regan Meader, the owner and winemaker of Southold Farm + Cellar, loves to experiment, and doesn’t like to compromise.  He likes to make what he wants to make, and since the results are so good, let’s hope his experiments lead to his success.

That success seemed to be in doubt this past summer when, due to some issues with permits with the town of Southold, he wasn’t able to open his tasting room.  Fortunately all is settled now, and he used the time this summer to re-decorate the tasting room, located off a back road next to his house, on his farm.  His own grapes still were not quite ready to be used, so he sourced grapes from Osprey (where he used to work), Gristina, and other places.

Comfy couches are a nice addition to the tasting room.

Comfy couches are a nice addition to the tasting room.

We arrived on a cold, damp day to a warm welcome from Mr. Meader, with whom we discussed not only the wines, but also the traffic we encountered last weekend (mainly due to activities at Harbes), development on the North Fork, and literature.  After a while some additional people came in with kids in tow, so the room became quite lively as they settled on the comfy couches.  One couple had arrived on bicycles despite the weather, and we and Mr. Meader discussed various options for their next stops, including Horton’s Point Lighthouse and One Woman Winery.

A tasting of his four wines is $15.

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  1. 2014 Artful Dodger (Sauvignon Blanc)                   $26

Well, of course I had to ask why name a wine after a Dickens character.  Mr. M. and I discussed the Dodger’s character, how cheeky he is, and that moment when he is being hauled off to jail and berates the policemen for not knowing what a special gent he is.  This version of sauvignon blanc is also pretty special and a bit cheeky.  Unlike most local sauvignons, this is not steel fermented.  Instead, he uses neutral oak barrels which add just a touch of vanilla to the citrusy tangerine taste and a more textured mouth feel.  Good!  Of course this would be good with raw oysters, but could also complement something like oysters Rockefeller or you could just sip it, perhaps with a slice of brie.  We buy it, thinking about the local scallops sautéed with onions, red peppers, and local corn I’m planning to make for dinner.

Tilting at Windmills!

Tilting at Windmills!

  1. 2014 Tilting at Windmills (Old Vines Chardonnay) $26

Chardonnay can be such a pedestrian wine, so clichéd, so perhaps it is Quixotic to take it on and try to do something different with it.  The Man of La Mancha may have failed in his attempt to vanquish the windmill (a passage which had me laughing out loud when I read it), but Mr. M. is certainly not defeated.  “I was thinking of Chablis,” he says.  We smell mineral, asparagus and taste baked pear, minerals, with something a bit herby at the end.  There is a touch of sweetness but not too much.  He ferments it on the skins, again in neutral (i.e. old) oak barrels, achieving some nice texture.  Good!  I could see having it with duck, though usually with duck I want red or rosé.

  1. 2014 Counting Stars (Red Sparkling) $28

Having recently had an unfortunate encounter with a red sparkling wine at Sparkling Pointe (I dumped it!), I was a bit leery of this option, but no fear, this was lovely.  Made from 100% petit verdot, it has an aroma of dark fruits, then is tingly on the tongue.  Not sweet, it is light but not inconsequential, with a mineral aftertaste.  It would be perfect with charcuterie, or perhaps with a Thanksgiving turkey.  In the tasting notes, Mr. M. says he let petit verdot’s “freak flag fly.” His tasting notes are fun to read.  Oh, and the name?  The bubbles rising in the dark wine remind him of stars in the night sky.

The glass is a touch foggy from my attempts to warm the wine.

The glass is a touch foggy from my attempts to warm the wine.

  1. 2014 Flying and Falling (The Farm Cabernet Franc) $32

What’s the difference between flying and falling?  Hmmm.  This is 100% cabernet franc and spends seven months in oak.  Lots of aroma—we smell olives and chocolate and maraschino cherry.  The wine is a bit too cold—time to set up the heater, we agree—but as it warms we like it better.  At first it seemed as though it didn’t follow through with as much interest as the aroma would suggest, then it got better.  It might also benefit from more time, or from sitting longer in the glass.  At first we were afraid he had fallen, but he’s still flying.

Nothing like a short commute! This is where he lives.

Nothing like a short commute! This is where he lives.

Reasons to visit:  All four of his wines are worth tasting and thinking about; nice to get away from the usual places and be somewhere where the winemaker likes to experiment; Mr. Meader, who is fun to talk to, enthusiastic about his wine, and a really nice guy; pretty rustic little tasting room.

Regan Meader explaining his wines.

Regan Meader explaining his wines.

These grapes have been picked.

These grapes have been picked.

Pretty, isn't it? I took this photo from one of his menu cards!

Pretty, isn’t it? I took this photo from one of his menu cards!

Sparkling Point: Bubblicious? August 15, 2015

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/#

The entrance to Sparkling Pointe

The entrance to Sparkling Pointe

Every time we visit Sparkling Pointe we go home convinced that we should drink more champagne—or, to be precise, more sparkling wines, since only wines from the Champagne region of France can actually be called champagne.  Sparkling Pointe only makes sparkling wines, a focus that disappointed a couple who wandered in as we were enjoying our tasting and left, despite the best efforts of our very knowledgeable and passionate server to persuade them to stay.  “Here,” she offered, “try a little sample on me of two very different sparkling wines,” pouring them tastes of the Brut and the Carnaval.  They should have stayed.

A view of the chandeliers

A view of the chandeliers

The tasting room is a bright, airy space, decorated with large crystal chandeliers and paintings of Brazilian scenes (because the owners like the culture of Brazil, we’ve been told).  Outside there are more seats on a shaded patio overlooking the vineyard.  We could have opted for table service inside or outside, but, since there is room at the bar, we decide to stay there, which gives us a chance to observe the somewhat frenetic actions of the serving staff, as they quickly move from task to task.  “Like a beehive!” observes my husband.  Our attentive server not only (noticing our interest) gives us more information about each wine than I can cover in my notes, she also gives us an extra taste, about which more later.

A view of the mural, plus a very active server

A view of the mural, plus a very active server

The menu offers four tastes for $17, each one in a fresh champagne flute.  There is also an extensive menu of snacks—almost all of them of New York State origin, including cheeses and charcuterie, chips and olives, and Tate’s cookies—which is good, since they don’t allow outside food.  We also noted quite a few people ordering whole bottles for a table, plus snacks.  The shop off to one side is full of gift items, also featuring many New York State grown or made products, as well as the sparkling t-shirts many of the servers wear.

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  1. NV Brut               $29

This is their least expensive and most popular wine, a non-vintage blend, meaning they strive for consistency year to year.  This one is made from 38% chardonnay, 38% pinot noir, and 24% reserve wine—which means they use some of the wine they reserve from each vintage in order to make up the blend.  It ages for two years on the lees.  The aroma is toasty and yeasty, the wine itself very pleasant, with tiny bubbles that burst on the tongue.  The chard probably accounts for the lemony taste, more like a touch of lemon peel than fruit.  The wine is nicely dry, but could have more fruit flavors.  I think it would be better as an accompaniment for food than by itself.  Pretty label.

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  1. 2010 Blanc de Blancs $42

We clear our palate with our own individual bowl of round crackers, a nice idea—almost ruined by a man who comes to the bar to order a bottle for his table and helps himself to a handful.  An observant server quickly dumps the bowl and gives us a fresh one.  Nice!  This one is a 100% chardonnay, aged 3 ½ years on the lees, with a slightly funky green apple smell.  This has tastes of lime and mineral and fruit, and, though not complex, is quite good.  We recently had the Lieb Blanc de Blanc, made from pinot blanc grapes, which tasted very different.  We prefer this one.

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  1. 2006 Brut Seduction $72

Now we’re getting serious.  They only make the Brut Seduction in a good year for pinot noir, which is not every year on Long Island, as this is 54% pinot noir and 46% chardonnay blend.  This one has been aged eight years, and it shows.  Wow.  The aroma is yeasty and toasty again, but we also smell some bitter almond.  Mineral, fruit, layers of flavor—we’ve had excellent vintage champagnes (yes, from France) and this would give some of them a run for their money. Our server thinks it needs another six months in the bottle, which would make it perfect for New Year’s Eve. The tasting menu says it has a “super organoleptic profile”—which is a fancy way of saying it appeals to all the senses.  Yes indeed.

The servers are smart and attentive and know a lot about the wines.

The servers are smart and attentive and know a lot about the wines.

Our favorite--not counting the '05!

Our favorite–not counting the ’05!

  1. 2005 Brut Seduction

Not for sale, not on the menu, but we get a taste.  The server has noted our seriousness, and my note taking, and we have had a great discussion of sparkling wines.  She is so enthusiastic about them that she actually traveled to Champagne, France.  The ’05 earned scores in the 90s, and we can see why.  We smell a more complex aroma, with fruit and spice, perhaps fennel, and the taste…I wrote OMG.  This could definitely stand up to a French vintage champagne.

Our individual dish of crackers, which we almost lost!

Our individual dish of crackers, which we almost lost!

  1. NV Carnaval Cuvée Rouge $34

From the sublime to…not our taste.  This is described as a demi-sec red sparkling wine, made from 65% merlot, 23% pinot noir, and 12% chardonnay, having spent five days on the merlot skins, which accounts for the pretty garnet color.  The aroma is black raspberry, the taste is candy, or raspberry syrup mixed with seltzer.  Unlike the others, which are made in the méthode Champenoise, this is made in the méthode traditionelle.  If you like sweet, you can try this.  I would skip it!

A carnival outfit from the gift shop to get you in the mood for our last taste.

A carnival outfit from the gift shop to get you in the mood for our last taste.

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Reasons to visit:  you like bubbles; the only winery that only makes sparkling wines; an airy pleasant setting with table or bar service; lots of interesting snacks; smart, attentive servers; nice little gift shop; the ’06 Brut Seduction.

A view of the room during a brief quiet moment.

A view of the room during a brief quiet moment.

Looking towards the outside patio

Looking towards the outside patio

Some of the gift items

Some of the gift items

In a few years, these grapes will sparkle.

In a few years, these grapes will sparkle.

Sparkling Pointe August 25, 2013

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

Sparkling

It seemed appropriate on a sparkling August day, after several hours watching the sun sparkling on the water, to check out Sparkling Pointe winery, where they specialize in sparkling wine.  And a good choice it was.  Using the Méthode Champenoise to make authentic champagne-style wines (which can’t actually be called champagne because only wines from the Champagne region of France can legally bear that title), they have taken Long Island grapes into the realm of luxury wines.

The bright and airy tasting room leads out to a spacious patio area, which they need, since they often get van and busloads of visitors, as we have noted as we have driven by.  Just as Croteaux evokes France and Diliberto evokes Italy, Sparkling Pointe evokes Brazil, featuring Bossa Nova nights and paintings of Rio in its tasting room.  According to a server on a previous visit, the owners happen to “love the culture” of Brazil.  The winery also tries to promote an air of elegance, with crystal chandeliers on the ceiling and caviar on the fairly extensive snack menu. Once, when we came on Halloween, all the servers were in fancy dress, either tuxedos or ball gowns.  The snack menu, which needs to be somewhat extensive since they have a note on the door politely informing guests that they no longer allow outside food, also includes charcuterie, various cheeses, olives, and more,  as well as iced tea, Pellegrino, and something called Vita Coco Coconut Water from Brazil.  We have goodies waiting at home, so we decide to just do two tastings, one for our son and another we will share, at $17 for four tastes in pretty champagne flutes.   Although they have more than four wines, they decide on the menu of tastings each day. Oh, and you can add a chocolate pairing for an additional $10.

Our server knows his stuff, and seems quite enthusiastic, but he is also taking care of a couple of larger parties out on the patio and seems somewhat distracted, rushing back and forth.  Fortunately, we are not in a hurry.

  1.   2009 Brut                                           $29

This is their “signature” wine, a blend of 59% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, and 5% reserve wine.  I want to ask the server what “reserve wine” means, though I assume it is wine left over from other years, but he has disappeared and I forget when he returns.  We like the Brut better than on a past visit.  It has a somewhat doughy smell, with some notes of not-ripe melon, or maybe pear.  It is a light, dry champagne, with some residual sugar and a hint of grapefruit.  While I wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, as in a toast, it would be a lovely aperitif wine with nuts or soft cheese.

2.  2008 Blanc de Blancs                      $42 (Magnum $93)

On the other hand, I would happily drink a toast with this wine.  After a year on the lees, this 100% Chardonnay wine has a somewhat funky mineral aroma but is creamy to taste, and reminds me of a Granny Smith apple pie.  Nicely dry, but with good fruit, I could also see this paired with some Crescent Farms duck breast. and my son agrees.  It is better than most $20 champagnes one buys.

3.  2003 Brut Seduction                       $60

Another blend, this one is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, and spent eight years on the lees, according to our server.  One nicety—each taste is poured into a fresh glass. Here we smell dirt and mushrooms, but taste raspberry and lemon curd.  One could definitely sip this on its own and be very happy.  The tasting notes refer to its “organoleptic profile,” which occasions some hilarity in our little party.  Look it up.

4.  NV Cuvée Carnaval                         $27

Our server has poured our final taste before we finished the one before, and left, noting that he won’t be back, a fistful of glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, so I miss whatever he said about this wine, as I was concentrating on the previous one and comparing notes with my son.  This wine combines Merlot and Chardonnay, plus 4% Gewürztraminer, which probably accounts for some of its sweetness.  We smell strawberry jam and taste mango and cherry.  It wouldn’t be bad with a dessert like a flourless chocolate cake, and, for a sweet wine, has some nice minerality, so I like it better than I thought I would.  If you didn’t have Chateau d’Yquem, my husband notes, you could substitute this.  Well, maybe…

After we finish our last wine, we stand at the bar waiting to pay for our tastings, our server, as promised, having disappeared.  A gentleman comes over and asks us if we are waiting to buy a bottle.  No, we say, just waiting to pay for our tastings.  He thanks us for our patience, and tells us the tastings are free!  Nice gesture, which somewhat makes up for our harried server’s divided attentions.

Reasons to visit:  you like champagne—um, I mean, sparkling wine; you want to see what a North Fork winery can do with sparkling wines; you want caviar with your champ…sparkling wine; the Blanc de Blancs (my favorite); Bossa Nova nights.