Bedell Cellars: Price/Quality Question September 8, 2018

Bedell Cellars:  Price/Quality Question    September 8, 2018

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https://www.bedellcellars.com/

I’ve read a number of articles about the price of a bottle in relation to the quality of the wine inside it, with many opining that it is not a simple relationship.  Often, what you are paying for with an expensive bottle is some measure of prestige or canny marketing, not necessarily the experience of drinking the wine.  My husband and I have had the good fortune and pleasure to go to events which included very expensive wines—vintage Dom Perignon, premium Bordeaux—which we certainly enjoyed.  But the question is, were they that much better than the $20 bottles of wine we often have with dinner.  Better, yes, but exponentially better?  Not so sure.  I was thinking about this because the wines at Bedell, while mostly pleasant and drinkable, are overall fairly expensive for what you get.

On a surprisingly chilly day (It’s been too hot to sit outside most of the summer, and then today it was too cold!), we headed to Bedell Cellars, knowing they have a pleasant tasting room, and not planning to sit on the porch—which was good, since the outdoor area was closed in preparation for a wedding.  We stood at the bar in the elegant black and white room and studied the menu, which didn’t take long since they only have one flight option, of five wines for $20, though you can add tastes of any other wines for $5-$7 each.  They are already sold out of two of their wines.

Our server was enthusiastic and chatty, though somewhat self-conscious about my notebook, even though I assured her that our main interest was in the wines.  She informed us at the end of our tasting that we could take our receipt and go over to Corey Creek, now owned by Bedell, for two free tastes of the wines on tap there, about which more later.

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1.        2017 Sparkling Rosé      $45

Just as I said, “This would make a perfect bachelorette party drink,” as if on cue, a group of women surrounding one who wore a headband that proudly proclaimed “Bride” entered.  Pink, bubbly, fruity, with a touch of minerality, this blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot seems like it would be pleasant to drink.  However, we felt that ultimately it did not cohere and was a bit too sweet for us.  We still would prefer Croteaux.

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The label is certainly pretty.

2.       2017 Viognier    $30

Although only a few wineries on the North Fork grow viognier, we just happen to have visited both Palmer and Kontokosta recently, and their bottles of viognier are $25, while at Bedell it costs $30.  We liked all three of the viogniers, and Bedell’s is no better than the others. This one has an orange blossom aroma with a slight metallic tang.  It has some nice fruitiness, and while I found it a bit too sweet my husband felt it had a nice balance between sweetness and minerality.  While we were discussing the wine, several people stopped in for glasses of wine, and two of them got the viognier, so clearly it is a wine people like.  My tasting buddy said it was a good summer wine, and I theorized that it could stand up to an assertive dish like bouillabaisse. 

3.       2016 Taste White            $40

Both the wine and the image on the bottle are blends.  The wine mixes 64% albariño, 18% chardonnay,10% sauvignon blanc, and 8% viognier.  How is the image a blend?  According to our server, the artist did a composite portrait of five people to end with a face that looks like Marilyn Monroe.  (The owner of the winery sits on the board of MOMA, as we are always informed.)  The aroma and taste are both relatively complex and interesting, with smells of honeysuckle, baked pear, and something vegetal, maybe asparagus or grass.  I laugh and say it tastes like white grapes, because it seems funny to think that a drink made from grapes rarely tastes like grapes.  We also detect a hint of pineapple, and other fruits, plus pleasant acidity.  It’s not a white for sipping, nor would you want it with something very delicate.

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4.       2016 Cabernet Franc      $45

The tasting menu describes this light red as juicy and ripe.  I say meh.  It is barely aged—six to nine months in neutral French oak—and has no depth and a very short finish.  It evanesces, as we say.  The aroma is of dark fruit, but the wine mostly tastes of minerals and a little fruit.  If you want a robust red, don’t pick this nothing burger!

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It is a fairly generous pour.

5.       2016 Malbec     $50

I’m not too crazy about this red either, though I think people would find it easy to drink.  It’s a very simple, slightly cherry-flavored red, with no tannins.  It does develop a bit more flavor as it sits, and we think it might be better with something like lamb chops.

 

On to Corey Creek!

https://www.bedellcellars.com/the-tap-room/

 

              Just a little further east from Bedell is Corey Creek, which used to be a separate winery until Bedell took it over.  There they offer wine from a tap, like beer, and you can bring a bottle to be filled.  The building is pleasantly rustic, with a pretty back porch overlooking pinot gris vines.  The atmosphere is more informal than Bedell, and we saw families whose children were running around outside, plus several dogs on leashes.  The bachelorette party was here, too. 

              Many of the wines here are aged in clay vessels, an ancient method being revived, so we were interested to see if the cabernet franc here tasted any different than the one we’d just had.  They also offer Frosé, a frozen concoction of rosé, sugar, and water.  No, thank you. 

 

1.       Syrah

For a syrah, this is a very light wine, with not much in the way of aroma or taste.  My husband says it has “forward tongue tingle.” 

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Our Corey Creek tastes

2.       Cabernet Franc

This is another not-much-there wine, though if you found reds challenging you might like it.  Our conclusion?  “Free is the right price” for these tastes.

 

Reasons to visit:  elegant tasting room, artistic labels, the Viognier and the Taste White; Corey Creek has a pleasantly rustic setting and the novelty of wine on tap, plus a taste is free if you’ve been to Bedell.

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Look how big those grapes are getting!

Bedell Cellars: Artistic Elegance  July 6, 2017

https://www.bedellcellars.com/

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The weather man was predicting rain, so we decided to take our guests to Bedell, rather than opt for a winery where we would sit outside.  As it happened, the sun came out, but we did not regret our choice.  Bedell has some lovely and interesting wines, and the most artistic labels on Long Island.  As we’ve been told before by servers, the owner is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, and he commissions labels from various modern artists.  Given the prices on the wines, maybe they could include little reproductions of the artwork with the purchase of each bottle!

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Each label is also a work of art.

The tasting room is small and simply elegant, with a high ceiling and a black and white color scheme. There is also a covered porch to one side.  We settled down at a table for four and perused the flight menu—which didn’t take long, as they have simplified their options.  Now there is only one choice—a flight of five wines for $20.  Each couple opted to share a tasting, which worked out fine.  They also have a small snack menu, with one unusual choice:  an individual serving of North Fork honey.  We had brought some mixed nuts, which helped us appreciate at least one of the wines, as you will see.

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Their menu of snacks.

  1. Sparkling Rosé 2016      $45

What a perfect way to start our tasting, especially since we were also celebrating my husband’s birthday.  A pretty pink—“Nice color for a bridesmaid’s dress,” opined our friend—with an aroma of strawberries, this is made from a mixture of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon.  Unlike the sparkling white we had here last time, this is made by injecting CO2, not by the méthode champenoise.  While not complex, the taste is delicious, crisp and dry and fruity.  One of us threatened to drink a whole bottle…

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  1. Taste White 2015 $50

Our server informed us that this was the “wine of the month,” and was therefore on sale at half price.  Noting the vintage, I opined that they wanted to clear out the stock to make space for a newer wine, as many whites are better drunk young, not aged.  Both the blend of grapes and the aroma intrigued us.  It is a combination of 65% albariño, plus chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and viognier, and is steel fermented.  We kept sniffing and discussing the smell, which we described variously as mineral, burnt cork, funky, and garden mulch.  The taste was equally complicated, with fruit, mineral, metal, and citrus notes.  We liked it, but were wondering about food pairings, since it has an unusual flavor and would overwhelm something delicate, like sole.  I’m thinking it might have gone well with the grilled swordfish topped with tomato relish my friend had later for dinner at ALure.

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  1. Gallery 2014 $75

That’s quite a price for a Long Island white, and though we enjoyed the wine we did not feel it was worth it.  A combination of 65% chardonnay and 25% viognier aged in oak, plus 10% steel-fermented sauvignon blanc, we thought it was slightly reminiscent of a California chardonnay, though not as oaky.  The taste was complex, with notes of citrus and salt and mineral and some butterscotch.  We felt it was a bit too sweet, though I think that may have been the fruitiness rather than the sweetness.  When we ate some nuts and then tasted it again, we liked it better, so it is definitely a food wine.

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There are not many wineries where the wine labels could also double as art museum labels.

  1. Merlot 2014 $35

We got clean glasses for the reds.  Mmm, this smelled delicious, with lots of fruity, plummy, cherry aromas.  It also tasted quite good, dry, but with lots of fruit and a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg.  Nice tannins.  It might age well.  You could have this with steak and be quite happy.  Or bison, which, as our server informed us, is what it was paired with in 2009 at a Presidential inauguration lunch.

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  1. Cabernet Franc 2014 $45

“This sends nine months in neutral oak,” our server told us, and we felt pretty neutral about the wine as well.  Just okay, was my judgement.  Definitely tasted red plums and other fruits in this dry red, but it was not as full-bodied as the merlot, which we all preferred.

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One side of the bar.

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A table, with a view out to the porch.

Reasons to visit:  attractive tasting room and covered porch; the pretty labels; the Sparkling Rosé, the Taste White, and the Merlot.  I also noted a trend I’ve seen in more and more tasting rooms—you can buy a bottle to drink there, but it will cost you more than if you buy a bottle to take home.  $10 more in this case!

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Corey Creek September 15, 2013

http://www.bedellcellars.com/cc_tastingroom.php

The tasting room sits on a rise overlooking the vineyard.

The tasting room sits on a rise overlooking the vineyard.

corey tableBedell has, in effect, two tasting rooms, since all Corey Creek serves are Bedell wines, except for their own Gewürztraminer.  Corey Creek’s room is somewhat more rustic looking than Bedell’s, and there are nice picnic tables on the pretty grounds.  However, since we last tasted Bedell a year ago in August, it was time for a new tasting anyway.  (That’s what makes this such a challenging project—just when you think you’ve tasted every winery, you realize that another year has begun and they have new vintages.  As they say, it’s a tough job, but…)

We had the room to ourselves on a bright and sunny but slightly chilly September afternoon, except for some children whose parents were picnicking outside, and who came running in to use the rest room.  The two servers were friendly and chatty and quite well-informed, and we spent a pleasant time with them.

Corey Creek offers two tastings, plus wines by the glass or bottle.  The Estate tasting includes 5 wines for $12, and the Premium has 5 wines for $15.  Somewhat disappointingly for those looking to try a variety of wines, several of the wines are the same on each list.  However, our server had a good idea, and, since she had a bottle open anyway, gave us a taste of a different wine instead of one of the overlapping ones.  I’ve marked the wines which were only on the Premium tasting with an * so you can decide whether you want to invest the extra $3 to try them or not.  I would stick to the Estate tasting next time.

  1.  Corey Creek 2012 Gewürztraminer                                         $40

Both tastings include this wine, Corey Creek’s only offering of its own wine, as I noted above.  This has a bit of that cat pee smell Gewürztraminers sometimes have.  The taste is quite bracing, with lots of lime and tangelo, and is rather acid at the end.  Not a sweet Gewürztraminer!  It is good, though I like One Woman’s version better.

Note the snazzy bottle on the right.

Note the snazzy bottle on the right.

2.  2012 Bedell Chardonnay                                                               $30

This is, our server informs us, a blend of Chardonnay grapes from six separate plots, and is fermented half in oak and half in steel, so it avoids being either overly oaky or overly simple.  This has some nice tropical fruit flavors and the usual vanilla scent of oaked chards, but is not very complex.

3.  *2011 Taste White                                                                          $35

I really like the label of this one, as it has an interesting image which reminds me of Marilyn Monroe.  This is a blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 32% Viognier, 22% Chardonnay, 5% Gewürztraminer and 1% Riesling, and I enjoy sipping it.  It is nice and light, and would make a great summer aperitif, with some lemon-lime flavors that would complement seafood very nicely.

4.  2011 Taste Rosé                                                                                $20

Again, both tastings get this wine, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.  With that information, you would expect this to be a rather complex rosé, but in fact it is just okay, and once again does not measure up to the Croteaux rosés, our gold standard for the North Fork.  It is, however, a perfectly fine rosé, with the typical strawberry aroma and tastes of papaya and peach.

5.  Bedell Sparkling Rosé                                                                    $45

You won’t find this on the menu, but noting our seriousness of demeanor and my careful note-taking, our server offers us this addition to our tasting.  As she says, this would make a great aperitif, and, as my husband notes, you could easily quaff a lot of this “and then fall over.”  It would be lovely with a strawberry floated in it, as it is relatively dry.  This is a “tank fermented” sparkler, but they also make a Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine, using the facilities at Sparkling Point.

Corey red

6.  First Crush Red                                                                                 $20

Now we switch to reds.  I’m thinking of picnics and roast chicken and a slightly chilled Beaujolais Nouveau as we discuss this wine.  It is fairly mellow, soft, and not very assertive, and would be good with a simple dinner.  Quite buyable.

7.  2012 Cabernet Franc                                                                       $40

Both tastings include this, my favorite so far, with lots of layers of taste, including blackberry.  Again, it is dry, but not too dry, and very pleasant to drink.

8.       2010 Merlot

Rather than give both of us the Cab Franc, the server cleverly gives my husband this Merlot instead so we can try a different wine.  This is a fairly typical NoFo Merlot, with nice black cherry tastes and a short finish.

9. *2011 Malbec                                                                                    $50

Lighter than I expect for a Malbec, this has lovely tastes of boysenberry, with some hints of cocoa.  Very good, though a bit pricey for how I would rate it.

A view inside the tasting room.

A view inside the tasting room.

Reasons to visit:  Quiet rustic tasting room (buses, etc., by appointment); Bedell wines plus their own, so a good place to come if Bedell is crowded; the First Crush Red and the Taste White.Corey tree

We could have had our tasting on this pretty porch.

We could have had our tasting on this pretty porch.