Suhru: A Warm Welcome November 16, 2019

https://www.suhruwines.com/

IMG_7261

Another tasting room housed in a former house, Suhru similarly has a warm family vibe.

Like our last tasting, at Coffee Pot Cellars, Suhru is located in what was formerly a house and has a similarly welcome, family vibe. Susan Hearn is behind the bar, and is quick to explain, as she hospitably offers glasses of water, that the name of the winery is composed of her name, her husband Russell’s name, and the initial of their last name.

IMG_7260

Ask Susan and she will explain exactly how they came to add the H to the name.

The last time we were there happened to coincide with their grand opening, and featured a spread of cheese and charcuterie from Touch of Venice, just across the street. No such luck today, but Susan offered that we could order snacks from Touch of Venice and they would be delivered within fifteen minutes. Though the options looked good, we were not hungry, but I do wonder why more of the wineries don’t have similar arrangements, especially the ones that are close to restaurants. A number of them do feature snacks catered by local restaurants, which they keep on the premises.

IMG_7262

The “Shared Plates” come from Touch of Venice, and will be delivered in about 15 minutes.

On this sunny but cold November Saturday, there was a steady trickle of guests in the tasting room, including a large group when we arrived, and then a few couples, all of whom seemed very happy to have found Suhru. The room is small but nicely set up, with a bar at which one can stand, comfy couch seating areas, and tables featuring bottles of water and glasses. We decided we’d like to sit, so Susan brought our flights to the table for us, and gave us a thorough run-down of each wine.

IMG_7271
There are three flight choices: Fall Favorites, of four wines for $14; White Wine of four whites for $12; and Red Wine, of four reds for $15. One could also choose from the entire panoply of offerings of Suhru and T’Jara wines (The T’Jara label is owned with another couple and honors Russell’s Australian roots.) and put together a tasting, or get a glass or a bottle. We also noticed that if one bought a bottle of the wine of the month—the Shiraz—one of the tastings would be free.

IMG_7263
Russell is one of the founders of Premium Wine Group, a facility at the corner of Cox Neck Lane and Sound Avenue, where a number of the smaller wineries make their wines, taking advantage of state-of-the-art facilities, which they would otherwise not be able to afford. For example, Susan pointed out, they use screw caps on all their wines, and without the expensive machine at Premium they would have to use corks.

IMG_7266
1. Non-vintage Brut $29
They did not have their sparkling wine ready for the opening last year, as it takes two years to make, so we were happy to have a chance to taste it today. Made from 85% chardonnay and 15% pinot noir, using the méthode champenoise, this is a creditable sparkler, with tiny bubbles and a delicious taste of fruit and mineral. Susan said it smells like roasted pears and toasted brioche, and we agreed—though we probably would have just said toast! Nicely dry and crisp.
2. 2018 Pinot Grigio $18
The aroma is a bit funky and foresty, but pleasant. The wine itself is quite delicate, with what the menu describes as tastes of Granny Smith apple, bosc pear, and lemon peel. Susan laughs as she says this, and admits that most people are happy to just say apple and pear. I think one needs to drink this with food, but something light, like a flounder fillet, rather than something heavy, which would overwhelm the wine.

IMG_7265

Susan in motion behind the bar.

3. 2018 Sauvignon Blanc $19
My tasting buddy and I agree we like this better than many North Fork sauvignon blancs, the second most popular local grape, after chardonnay. The menu prose is a bit over-the-top, describing “aromas of passionfruit jumping out of the glass.” We chuckle at the image of aromas jumping, but quite enjoy the wine, which has the lemon one expects but more fruit than many. It would certainly be good with oysters.
4. 2018 Dry Riesling $18
I’m somewhat wary of this, since I’ve had so-called “dry” rieslings that were anything but. However, this is a really good one, with deep enough flavor to stand up to big tastes, like a lobster fra diavolo, and tastes of stone fruit and citrus. It could also make a nice sipper on its own, though my husband notes if you opened it to have with one meal it might not go with the next day’s dinner. I guess you’d just have to finish the bottle. Susan suggests that it is a good Thanksgiving wine, and I tell her that this year we’ll probably be drinking sake with our turkey, since our theme is Japanese food. But we decide to get a bottle anyway. By the way, they source all their other grapes on the North Fork, but the riesling is from the Finger Lakes.

IMG_7269
5. 2014 Shiraz $23
Because Russell is Australian, they call this wine shiraz, rather than syrah, which is the same grape. He is particularly happy to make this wine, because the terroir of the North Fork reminds him of Western Australia, with its cool maritime setting. They aim to make all their wines food-friendly, and we can see that. This is a medium-bodied red, not a big fruity syrah-style wine. It smells to me like purple plums, and has some fruit tastes. It is the kind of red, like a Beaujolais, that could go with roast chicken or pizza. She says it would also be good for Thanksgiving. We decide to get a bottle, and not just because one of our tastings will be free.
6. 2017 T’Jara Cabernet Franc $25
This and the next two reds are aged in Hungarian oak, while the Shiraz is aged in American oak. I suppose some day, with enough education, I could tell the difference…Anyway, cab franc has become the second most popular grape on the North Fork, after merlot, and though at first it was primarily used in blends, it is now often featured on its own. The aroma is lovely, with notes of nutmeg and minerals as well as dark fruits. It tastes good, too, like purple plums. Again, not a big red, but one with enough acidity that it could go with something like the yummy short ribs and mashed potatoes I had at Jamesport Manor during Restaurant Week.

IMG_7264

One side of the tasting room.

7. 2015 T’Jara Merlot $25
Cherry taste and aroma, as typical of merlots around here, but not very fruity. Minerality. Not bad, just not exciting.
8. 2013 Suhru Ember $20
Why Ember, I ask? Susan explains that they just called this “red,” and their wine club members objected that it was too good a wine to have such a meh name, so they had a contest to name it, and ember won. She feels like it captures the warmth of sitting around a fire and sipping this Bordeaux blend. It is 49% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 18% cabernet franc, and 4% each petit verdot and malbec, though they may vary the proportions from year to year, depending on the qualities of each grape’s juice. Again, we get a slightly funky, forest floor aroma, plus tobacco. She says it has a long finish, but we don’t find that. I taste blackberries. We think this either needs more or less time to age—not sure which!

IMG_7259

This little patio abuts the rather large parking lot, and there is a back entrance to the winery off to the side.

Reasons to visit: pleasant intimate setting, where you can talk to the owner and learn about the winemaking; you can take your tastes to a table, all at once on a carefully labeled tray in nice round-bottomed glasses; snacks from Touch of Venice, a restaurant whose food we like; a cute little outdoor patio area for warm weather; we liked almost all the wines, but especially the shiraz, the sauvignon blanc, and the dry riesling.

The Winemaker Studio: Studying Wine May 16, 2015

http://www.anthonynappawines.com/tws_home.html

w sign

Proving once again that regular visits to all wineries are essential, we noted several changes at Anthony Nappa’s Winemaker Studio since our last visit there in July.  For example, the emphasis has gone from looking at the wines of many winemakers to a focus on Nappa’s own wines, although others are available, including for purchase.  Today, the choice is between a set menu of five wines for $10 by Russell Hearn, under his SuHru and T’Jara labels, or any of fourteen wines by Nappa at $2 per taste.  After some serious discussion, we decide to share two tastings, one of the Hearn wines and the other of five wines from Nappa’s list.  We also could have had a beer from Greenport Brewing Company or hard cider or espresso.

Note the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company tap.

Note the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company tap.

The building is over 100 years old, which contributes to the cozy feeling of the place, and is divided into two halves, with one half the tasting room with a bar and some little tables and chairs, and the other half a store called Provisions, which offers both a selection of groceries and a menu of sandwiches and snacks.  While we were there we saw one party enjoying some paninis—which smelled delicious—with their wine.  We could also have bought wines by the bottle from Leo Family, Race Wines, Coffee Pot Cellars (which now has their own place), and Influence Wines.

You can see Provisions through the window.

You can see Provisions through the window.

Some of the snack choices

Some of the snack choices

Our server, by the way, was quite pleasant and very knowledgeable, and we overheard her giving a pair of North Fork novices some good advice as to which wineries they would and would not like.  Based on their preferences, we suggested their next stop should be One Woman Winery.    I’ll list the wines as we drank them, with the Anthony Nappa wines second.

One view of the room

One view of the room

  1. SuHru Pinot Grigio         $17

Nice way to start a tasting.  This is a bright, citrusy white with a slightly funky, mineral aroma.  Though somewhat too dry to be a sipper, it would go great with oysters.

w suhru

  1. 2013 Frizzante                 $20

As you may have guessed from the name, this is a sparkling wine, made in the Méthode Champenoise from pinot noir, riesling, and gewürztraminer.  Because it is unfiltered, it is somewhat cloudy.  Given the grapes it is made from, I thought it might be sweet, but, though it has a touch of sweetness, it is dry, with aromas of pear and orange flower.  Our server compares it to a Prosecco, and says she likes it with sushi.  I think it would be great with some charcuterie!  And given the price, one could drink this without waiting for an occasion.

w frizz

  1. 2013 SuHru Sauvignon Blanc $19

As I’m sniffing and thinking, hmmm…toast, lemon peel, minerals, my husband says, “This is very like a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, and so anyone who liked that would like this.”  I’ll have to do some research to verify that, but meanwhile I taste lemon and gooseberries.

  1. 2013 Anomaly $19

The Anomaly is Nappa’s signature wine, a white made from red pinot noir grapes, and it is quite nice, though we liked it better the first time we had it.  The aroma is a tad funky, with some minerality and a smell like raw yeast dough.  It is fairly crisp, and we taste sour cherries.

w anomaly

  1. 2010 T’Jara Cabernet Franc $30

New glasses for the reds.  Aged in oak, this has aromas of asparagus, coffee beans, and cherry juice, with tastes of spice and dark fruit.  It’s quite good, and we like the finish, and think it would pair well with veal Milanese.  Since Russell Hearn used to be the winemaker for Pellegrini, and we like their reds, it’s logical that we would like the reds he makes under his own label.

  1. 2014 Bordo $20

I kind of expected this to be a Bordeaux, based on the name, but it is made from steel-fermented cabernet franc.  Our server describes it as a “rustic Italian” wine, and says, among other flavors, that it has tastes of calamata olives.  We agree, and also think we taste dark plums and raisins, plus maybe some black cherry.  Although there’s lots of fruit tastes, it is relatively simple, in that there aren’t layers of flavor.  In any event, it would go great with pizza or pasta!

We really liked the clean, simple, modern style of Nappa's labels.

We really liked the clean, simple, modern style of Nappa’s labels.

  1. 2010 T’Jara Merlot $25

Just as my husband noted that the barnyard odors we used to sense frequently in North Fork wines are mostly gone, and I reminded him that it was merlots that featured it, we sniff this and find just a touch of barnyard.  Otherwise, lots of berry aromas and sour plum tastes in this somewhat tannic red.  Not at all soft, it would go well with pasta with a rich meat sauce.

  1. 2012 “dodici” $35

Named for the vintage year, this is a blend of 67% merlot, 28% cabernet franc, and 5% cabernet sauvignon, aged in French oak for 18 months.  A Right Bank Bordeaux, says my drinking pal.  Aroma:  Captain Black tobacco, chocolate, red fruits.  Taste:  cherry, dry yet soft, with some tannins.  Compared with how it tasted a year ago, we decide it has aged well so far, though it could be overwhelmed by a big steak dinner.

I love doing side by side comparisons.

I love doing side by side comparisons.

  1. 2007 T’Jara Reserve Merlot $35

Also aged in French oak, this is, despite the name, a bit of a blend:  89% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 2% malbec, 2% cabernet sauvignon.  “Unripe peach pit,” opines my pal, as he sniffs.  Really?  Okay, maybe.  Also currants, perhaps.  We taste and agree on dried fruits and unsweetened cocoa.  In a head to head with dodici, we choose the T’Jara.

w blackbird

  1. 2012 Blackbird $40

Why Blackbird?  Because merlot is the French word for blackbird, says the server.  Well, close, it is “merle,” and this is Nappa’s Reserve Merlot.  Red cherry taste, quite tannic, not much aroma:  we think it would be better with food, but are not thrilled with this wine.  Not bad, mind you, but not worth the price.

One corner of the room.  The furniture is cute, but could be more comfy.

One corner of the room. The furniture is cute, but could be more comfy.

Reasons to visit:  the chance to taste and buy wines from more than one winemaker; some offbeat choices like the Frizzante and the Anomaly; the lovely food from Provisions; a relaxed atmosphere; the Suhru Sauvignon Blanc, the Bordo, the T’Jara Reserve Merlot, the Dodici; freshly made espresso or cappuccino for those who have had enough wine.

w outside

The Tasting Group (Premium Wine Group): Choice Choices August 4, 2014

http://liebcellars.com

photo (78)

There are always changes out here in wine country.  New wineries open, some close, others merge, and menus change with each new harvest.  Lieb Cellars has made some alterations in their tasting room options.  Their Oregon Road facility (see my entry from last August for a description of that tasting room) still has the full panoply of Lieb wines, while their Sound Avenue room has been re-named The Tasting Group and now offers two menus:  Lieb’s Bridge Lane line (their less expensive offerings) or the “featured flight,” which features wines from a variety of labels which use the Premium Wine Group wine-making facilities behind the tasting room.  Either flight includes some very good choices.

We opted to each get our own flight, sharing tastes as always, and I took the Bridge Lane option, which includes 5 tastes for $12 from the Bridge Lane menu.  My husband took the featured flight, also 5 tastes, though with no options, for $14.  We were accompanied by family members, with the three year old distraction and her two month old sister opting to spend their time outside at one of the picnic tables on the lawn, admiring the grapes and just generally running around.  On Friday evenings Lieb has what they call “Firefly Fridays” out there, with music and glasses of wine on offer from 6-8 p.m.

One view of the tasting room

One view of the tasting room

The room itself is a bit small and somewhat spare, with a tasting bar and a few small tables.  Our server seemed quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and attempted to make a red wine convert out of another customer who kept insisting she only liked whites, though to no avail.

I’ll give you the Bridge Lane wines first, then the others.

1)  Bridge Lane White Blend            $20

20% chardonnay, 20%pinot blanc, 18% Riesling, 14% Viognier, 9% sauvignon blanc and 4% gewürztraminer combine to make this a pleasantly fruity yet light white, with nice citrus flavors.  Classic summer wine.

2)  Bridge Lane Sparkling                  $20

Very dry, somewhat mineral-y, and reminiscent of a Prosecco, this is a bit too seltzer-ish for me.

I liked the bubbly label.

I liked the bubbly label.

3)  Bridge Lane 2011 Chardonnay $14

Unoaked, our server notes, so a good choice for those who dislike the California style of heavily oaked chards.  This is light and lemony and very buyable.

4)  Bridge Lane Rosé 2013                 $18

Since we were just recently at Croteaux, of course I have to compare this to their wines, and it’s fine, but not as good.  A blend of cabernet franc, merlot, and gewürztraminer, this has typical strawberry aroma and is pleasantly dry, but could use more complexity.

5)  Bridge Lane Merlot 2011 $16

Though this is called merlot, it is also 24% cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, grapes which I think always improve a merlot.  For the price this is a really good option, with lots of berry flavors though not much aroma.  Very buyable, which we do.

Now for the Featured Flight.

1)  Brooklyn Oenology 2013 Pinot Gris        $20

Perhaps you were wondering where in Brooklyn grapes are grown?  The grapes for this wine come from Upstate New York and are processed here in Mattituck.  The wine is very, very dry, with lots of tart lemon flavors, so would be better with food than sipped on its own.

The SUHRU Riesling got some favorable comments.

The SUHRU Riesling got some favorable comments.

2)  SUHRU 2012 Dry Riesling $16

We’ve encountered SUHRU wines before, in The Tasting Room (now under different ownership as The Winemaker’s Studio) so we knew that they are made by Russell Hearn, Lieb’s winemaker, and his wife.  As the name promises, this is a dry Riesling.  It has a touch of that cat pee smell, but tastes fine, with good fruit—maybe gooseberry?  Our relatives really like it.

3)  Bouquet Rosé 2013 $16

“Not a lot of character,” offers our relative, and we agree, even though you’d think a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot would be more interesting.  There’s a touch of that earthiness some North Fork merlots have in this dry rosé.

4)  T’Jara 2010 Merlot $25

Where did the name T’Jara come from?  Our server tells us that this is Russell Hearn’s premium label, only made in good years, and, since he is from Australia, he decided to name it for an Australian tribe.  Aged in oak, this is a very good merlot, with plenty of berry tastes, dry but not too dry.

We liked Leo's label--and wine.

We liked Leo’s label–and wine.

5)  Leo Family Red Blend $36

We liked this the best of the wines sampled today.  A Bordeaux blend, this is a wine one could happily sip on its own or pair with pork chops.  It’s a bit on the sweet and soft side, without a lot of tannins, made by the Clovis Point winemaker.  It also has a really pretty lacy pattern on the label.

In addition to bottles, one can also buy some of the wines in a box!  A box of White Blend or Red Blend is the equivalent of 4 bottles, we are told, costs $46, and can last three weeks after being opened.  We opt instead for two bottles of the Bridge Lane merlot as an everyday table wine, our relative goes for the SUHRU Riesling, and one of our three tastings is complimentary.

photo (77)

Reasons to Visit:  the chance to try a variety of wines from various winemakers, in addition to Lieb’s own Bridge Lane line; the Bridge Lane chardonnay and merlot; the Leo Family Red Blend (If I were here for a Firefly Friday, I would get a glass of this if it were on offer.); the SUHRU Riesling; a pleasant outdoor space for a glass and a picnic.  We often see groups enjoying the Firefly Fridays, but have not had the chance to do so ourselves yet.

 

Outdoor area

Outdoor area