After braving the cold winds to do some pre-holiday shopping at Tanger Outlets, we were ready to sit down and taste some wines. Happily, Laurel Lake is well set up to accommodate those who prefer to sit rather than stand at their very attractive bar. You pay for your tasting in advance–$15 for three tastes—and get tickets which you then turn in before each glass. The menu offers choices among eight whites and eight reds, so we decided to do two tastings, three of each, sharing as we went. Since the pour is fairly generous, our plan worked well. We received two glasses, and kept the second glass for our reds.
As we sat, we noticed a few groups who had brought extensive snacks with them. One couple braved the heated outdoor porch, and others opted to stand at the bar. We also noticed a small selection of wine-related gift items, most with humorous messages. Overall it was a quiet day there, in contrast to a few weeks ago when we pulled into the parking lot and found no empty spaces because a convention of Corvettes had taken them all.
- 2013 Pinot Gris $21.99
This, our first choice, like all the rest, was served much too cold, so we spent some time warming the glass before sampling. They need to raise the temp in their fridge! Once it warmed up, we smelled a vegetable aroma, almost like freshly cut grass and flowers. The taste was dry and tart, with a touch of sweetness at first, reminiscent of a slightly under-ripe pineapple. Though not a sipper, it would be fine with food. I’m thinking local scallops with pasta and herbs.
- 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $20.99
For this one, the tasting notes recommend having it with sushi, and I can see that, though I usually get sake with sushi. It has a woodsy and citrusy aroma and tastes of white grapefruit. Again, this is a dry white with plenty of acidity, and we liked it.
- 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve $22.99
We skip their un-oaked chard and are very happy with our choice to sample this one. It spends 10 months in French oak, the notes tell us (The problem with sitting is that we don’t get to chat with the servers.), giving it the characteristic vanilla scent of oaked chards. However, it is not too heavily oaked, with a lovely mellow almost creamy taste and a nice long vanilla finish. Very buyable, we decide—and we do.
- 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve $29.99
Interestingly, this is stainless steel fermented and then aged in used French oak barrels for 12 months. My husband says the smell reminds him of a warm blanket on a cold day. I think he may just be tired after all that shopping and this is just wishful thinking, since I would describe the aroma as mainly blackberry. In any event, this is a light pleasant red, with cherry and plum flavors. The notes call it “rich and fleshy,” but we say “not so much.”
- 2010 Cabernet Franc $19.99
Nice aromas of pepper and cedar and maybe grape jam precede tastes that we decide are nice but not exciting, with some good fruit but not much finish.
- 2011 Syrah $19.99
This is my favorite of the reds we try. It has lots of dark berry aromas and tastes of purple plums, with a bit of a vegetable taste on the finish—or maybe kumquat. The tannins cause a slight tingle on the tongue. If we needed reds, I would buy it.
Reasons to visit: pleasant tasting room where you can bring a picnic; the 2012 Chardonnay Estate Reserve and the 2011 Syrah; most of the wines are reasonably priced (for the North Fork); lots of choices; a generous pour.