Castello di Borghese: Old Favorite August 16, 2018

Castello di Borghese:  Old Favorite          August 16, 2018

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You can glimpse the outdoor seating area off to the side.

https://castellodiborghese.com/

When I say old, I’m not kidding.  Borghese took over the oldest vineyard on the North Fork—Hargraves—and is as serious about their wines as the Hargraves were.   Though we have been there when they had music—a French Edith Piaf-type singer—or oysters or art exhibits (like the current one, curated by and featuring local women artists), the emphasis here is definitely on the wines.

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So I spotted one interesting name on the list of artists contributing to the show at Borghese…

The tasting room has a bar along one side, and then wine barrel tables where you can stand and taste.  They also have some outdoor picnic tables, though it was (once again) much too hot to sit outside.

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One side of the tasting room.

Though they have several tasting options, for $20 or $15, featuring from five to seven wines, we ended up getting a more or less custom tasting, since we were the only people there and our server appreciated the serious way we went about our sniffing and sipping.  The pour is fairly generous, so sharing seven tastes was plenty for us.

They have a few wine-oriented gift items.

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A few of the gift items–or you could buy a work of art from the gallery.

  1. 2016 White Meritage    $60

Meritage on the North Fork usually refers to red wines, so we were interested to taste this white blend.  It includes semillon, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay, and is a dry, citrusy—more lime than lemon—crisp wine.  Our server informed us that the wine originated one year when they had a fair amount of semillon grapes, but not enough to bottle on their own.  The menu notes this is a “limited release,” which means it won’t be made every year or in large quantities.  I decided it is a very summery wine, with a faint aroma of peach.

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  1. 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $28

We got this taste because, as I perused the menu, I noted that I would certainly not taste the barrel fermented chard, as I tend not to like them.  “This one is on me,” insisted the well-informed and chatty retired gentleman who was our server.  “I think you’ll like it because it is not like most oaked chardonnays.  For one thing, it is aged in neutral oak.”  “Neutral” oak barrels are barrels that have been used, so when they are re-used they do not impart as much oakiness to the wine, so you don’t get that buttery taste or unctuous mouth-feel of oaked chards that I dislike.  Well, he wasn’t wrong.  I smelled honey, but the wine itself is not at all sweet or heavy, with tastes of flowers and spice and pineapple.  “It’s unexpectedly good,” I had to admit.  Lesson learned—don’t reject oaked chards without learning more about each one.

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  1. 2016 Bianco di Pinot Noir $50

“Ever hear of the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” asked our server.  We had.  “Well,” he continued, “this is an example of that.”  In 2016 there was a nor’easter that literally blew the skins off one section of pinot noir grapes (Borghese grows, harvests, and makes all their wines.)  What to do?  This is the result—a white wine with just a tinge of pink and a taste that is more like a red than a white.  The wine smells subtly piney, and tastes like those white cherries that have about a one-week season.  A touch of citrus at the end.  I could see having this with prosciutto and melon.  It is good to be reminded that wineries are basically farms, at the mercy of the whims of nature.

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  1. 2015 Pinot Noir Reserve $68

At this point we have put ourselves totally into the able hands of our server, and let him choose our wines.  This, he tells us, is, like most Borghese wines, made in the Old World style, aged in new French oak barrels.  We discuss the observation that the Long Island has terroir has more in common with Europe than with California, which is not surprising when you consider both border the Atlantic Ocean—and were once, eons ago, part of the same continent.  (When the idea of Pangea was advanced, I’m sure I’m not the only person who thought back to that time in elementary school when you looked at a globe and thought about how those curves of the South American eastern coast would fit perfectly into the African western coast.)  Back to the wine, which is quite nice.  We smell forest and plum, and taste blackberry.  Some tannins.  I think it would go with blue cheese, and he suggests lamb chops.  Yup.  Nice finish.

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

  1. 2017 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon $25

A 50/50 blend, this is a good summer red, comparable to a Beaujolais, with no tannins.  The aroma is cherry and tobacco (unsurprisingly), and tastes like cherry, too. Dry.  It would go well with burgers.

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  1. 2014 Select Merlot $30

This is a good example of a somewhat typical North Fork merlot, with cherry aromas and flavors.  It would go great with pasta Bolognese.

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  1. 2014 Reserve Cabernet Franc $44

We like this one the best of the reds.  The aroma is somewhat earthy, with lots of dark fruit tastes.  It lacks the depth of a really good Bordeaux, though the menu says it is a “Bordeaux type” wine.

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The actual truck–of which this is a painting–sits along Route 48, advertising Castello di Borghese.

Reasons to visit:  you are serious about wine and want to go somewhere that values that seriousness (as opposed to the “sup”—shut up and pour—places); the merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend (we buy a bottle), the Bianco di Pinot Noir, the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (for those who don’t like barrel fermented chards); the art exhibits.

Castello di Borghese: Wines that Go Great with Food February 21, 2015

http://www.castellodiborghese.com/

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The last time we were here, two years ago, we had a great conversation with Ann Marie Borghese, the owner, with her husband, of this excellent winery.  Since then, alas, they both have died.  However, their three children—Allegra, Fernando, and Giovanni—have committed to keeping the vineyard going.  We were wondering what the tasting room experience would be like under the new regime, and were happy to find the same careful, well-informed, personal, and cheerful service as before.  Whew.  The wines were also pretty good!

The tasting room is divided into two areas, one with the bar and a few gift items, and the other with tables and chairs, an art gallery, and a small stage.  Alas, Marguerite Volans, a frequent musical performer, was not there.

The stage for performers.

The stage for performers.

Our enthusiastic and well-versed server explained the menu choices to us.  For $10 you can choose any four wines from the Estate wines side of the menu, and for $15 you can choose any five wines from either the Estate side or the Reserve side.  Since if we each tried five wines we would be able to cover most of their choices, we decided to go with that option, which would also let us taste some similar wines side by side.  We opted to skip the rosé, since we are such Croteaux fans, and a few others.  In addition to the menu items, we were also offered the opportunity to taste some newly bottled examples of the 2013 vintage.  I’ll mark the wines from the Reserve menu and the new vintages with an *.

Walking into the bar area.

Walking into the bar area.

  1. 2013 Chardonnay            $18

The steel-fermented chard got our tasting off to a good start.  We got lots of pineapple smells, as well as a bit of grapefruit.  Typical of a steel chard, this is crisp and fairly tart, with nice citrus flavors.  Kumquat, says my husband, and I agree, kumquat with the skin on.  Good with scallops, suggests our server.

  1. *2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $26

I don’t always like oaked chards, but this one only spent six months in oak, so it is still fairly delicate, with butterscotch aromas and some wheat toast flavors as well as fruit.  2012 was a great year on the North Fork, with a dry September that allowed grapes to really ripen.  It was also interesting to taste these two very different wines made from the same grape.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $24

Yum, another good white.  This wine is also steel-fermented, with an aroma that reminds me of white grape juice.  How odd, a wine that smells like grapes…This is also dry, with citrus taste dominated by grapefruit, and I could be very happy pairing it with some local oysters.

  1. *2013 Founders Field Sauvignon Blanc $24

How interesting.  Still some of that grape juice smell, with a bit of butterscotch from its two months in oak, but the taste is quite different, almost funky, with a bit of a metallic tang.  “Austere,” says my husband.  I think it needs to be drunk with food, I counter, and our server agrees.  Maybe seafood in a cream sauce, like a New England clam chowder, would be a good idea.

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  1. *2013 Bianco di Pinot Noir $50

I always like to try something new, so I suggest we try two whites which sound interesting.  This one is made from pinot noir grapes, which are usually used to make red wines.  In this case, they took the skins off in order to make a white wine.  Hmmm…it smells really nice.  Chocolate, suggests my tasting pal, and I have to agree.  But it smells better than it tastes, tart, with a very short finish, and not complex.  It’s good with cheese and crackers, we are told, and I can see that.

  1. *2012 White Meritage $60

Usually, Meritage means a red blend, so I’m intrigued.  This is a mixture of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, and in contrast to the previous wine has more and better taste than aroma.  It smells somewhat like acetone (phenols, says my scientific companion) but has some good citrus and grapefruit tastes.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir                $30

Now we switch to reds, and get new glasses, always a nice touch.  Pinot noir is the Burgundy grape, lighter than Bordeaux, and so it is.  The menu says “soft tannins,” but I don’t sense any.  I smell raspberry and a woodsy aroma and taste lightly fruity berries.  I could see this slightly chilled on a summer picnic with roast chicken.  Speaking of chilled, we were pleased that none of the wines were served too cold, which often happens, and which makes it harder to really taste the wines.

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  1. *2013 Pinot Noir Reserve $55

This is one of the new releases, and we are interested to see how it compares with the 2012 Pinot.  Again, we get a woodsy and raspberry aroma, with some additional fruit smells.  We like this one much better (though maybe not $25 better).  It has lots of cherry flavor, not much in the way of tannins, and is also a fairly light red.  We are told that pinot noir is a “heartbreak grape,” as it can be finicky and doesn’t always deliver on its promise.  We are also told that the snow is actually good for the vines, as it acts as almost a blanket for the dormant vines.

  1. *2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve $44

This is also a new release, and we are advised to try it before the cab sauv.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but with lots of red fruit to it.  We like it, but again think it would benefit by being served with food.  It is dry, with some nice fruit tastes, and would complement a barbeque very nicely.  I envision digging our Weber out from the snow bank it currently inhabits.  Not gonna happen!

Some of the gift items for sale

Some of the gift items for sale

  1. *2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $44

I think this wine demonstrates the risk of serving a newly bottled wine, as we feel it would benefit from more time.  It’s closed, says my husband, who has been reading wine magazines for years.  It has some good tannins and dark fruit—black cherry in particular—tastes.  We think it might be good in a few years, and if we had room in the cellar might have given it a chance.  Time to drink some more reds from the cellar!

The lovely Allegra

The lovely Allegra

  1. 2010 Allegra $36

If you’re counting, you realize that we should be at the end of our tasting, but our server, noticing our seriousness and my note-taking, asks if we want to try anything else.  Well, I ask, is there anything we should try?  Okay, she says, you have to try our dessert wine, made from chardonnay grapes.  A new, smaller glass appears, and we get a taste.  Very delicious!  Aromas of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass, tastes of honey and apricot, but not too sweet, not at all cloying, we agree, and we buy a bottle.  Then, all the way home, we discuss what to have it with.  I think if we did a dessert course of Catapano goat cheese and local peaches it would go beautifully.  Or if we had an appetizer course of paté…It was named, by the way, for Allegra Borghese, on the occasion of her 16th birthday.  She must be a lovely person!

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Reasons to visit:  you want to try an all-around good winery that is not inundated with buses; you’re curious about the oldest vineyard (it was originally Hargreaves) on the North Fork; some interesting choices; the 2013 steel Chardonnay, the 2012 Barrel Chardonnay, the 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve, the 2010 Allegra; servers who really know the wines.

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The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.

The vines enjoy their blanket of snow.