Pindar: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day February 20, 2016

http://www.pindar.net/

It was a cloudy day as we headed to Pindar.

It was a cloudy day as we headed to Pindar.

A beautifully deep rich voice singing “sunshine on a cloudy day” greeted us as we entered Pindar’s large tasting room, and that seemed like an appropriate message.  It was a cloudy day, and, as the French say, “A day without wine is like a day without sunshine.”  Pindar often offers musical entertainment, and is often crowded.  Today, however, there were only a few couples at the bar and the tables in a room that, according to their web site, can accommodate 3,000 (!).  Because of the crowds, we hadn’t been there in a few years, but this visit reminded us that we like many of their wines, though not all.  Their prices also are quite reasonable, which may have something to do with the economies of scale, as they say they are the largest vineyard on Long Island.

We quite enjoyed her singing.

We quite enjoyed her singing.

The menu offers 5 tastes for $10, out of 14 choices, including four characterized as “sweeter” and two dessert wines, plus another list of three “limited” wines at $3 per taste, and a sparkling wine.  The list is further divided into reds, whites, and “proprietary blends,” so it took us a while and some discussion to decide what to do.  We finally decided to share two tastings, first the whites, including two of the proprietary blends (marked with an * in my review), and then five of the reds.  We chose to skip the rosés, as we tend to find no one’s measure up to Croteaux’s.   Since the pour is rather generous, we were glad we chose to share.  They also offer a selection of cheeses and crackers, and do not allow outside foods.

One view of the bar--one of the bars!

One view of the bar–one of the bars!

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc    $14.99

In general, we feel Long Island sauvignon blancs tend to go better with food, as they tend to be too lemony to just sip, and that’s true of this one as well.  The aroma is of mineral and peach.  Very refreshing, I could see having this with lobster, as its tartness would offset the crustacean’s richness.  My husband notes that the end is too lemony for too long for his liking, especially sans food.

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  1. *Autumn Gold $10.99

This is a blend of Cayuga, Seyval, and chardonnay grapes, our server informs us, as will be our next choice, though in different proportions and different residual sugar amounts. We ask if the Cayuga is from upstate, since it is an upstate grape, and are informed that they grow all their grapes in their own vineyards.  We like this better than the first wine.  It has a touch of sweetness and a bit of funkiness which are well balanced with green apple and citrus tastes.  I also smell some minerality.  This is a very buyable wine, and we get a bottle of it to take home.

  1. *Winter White $10.99 for 750 ml., $17.99 for 150 ml.

“Our most popular white,” notes our server as he pours this blend.  We smell tropical fruits, and are ready to like this one but find it much too sweet for our tastes. The menu describes it as “semi-dry,” which makes us wonder about the wines they categorize as “sweeter.”   You could serve it to someone who actually would prefer soda—or maybe with Thai food.  We dump it.

The mysterious peacock, which may be a reference to Hera's favorite bird.

The mysterious peacock, which may be a reference to Hera’s favorite bird.

  1. 2013 Peacock Chardonnay          $9.99

There’s a pretty peacock on the label, so we ask (as we did two years ago) about the name of the wine.  Still no answer!   This spends eight months in French oak, and we do smell a bit of that woody smell.  We don’t really care for this one, either.  The taste reminds me of over-ripe bananas plus a really tart grapefruit—they say “citrus rind”—and then too much sweetness.  We don’t dump, but we also are not fans.

  1. 2013 Sunflower Chardonnay Special Reserve $18.99

Why sunflower?  This time we get an answer—a sunflower appeared spontaneously in the midst of the vineyard.  The menu describes this as “100% new barrel” fermented, from a “special 3.9 acre vineyard block.”  Sniff—vanilla and grape juice.  This has more body than any white so far.  I say nice.  My tasting buddy says it is “not offensive at the end.”  One could sip this, and it would also be good with a seafood diavolo, since it has some sweetness to it, but not too much.

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  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $21.99

Now we switch to reds, and get a new glass.  Our server tells us this was just released.  Hmmm…smells good.  Berries, forest floor, maybe wet leaves.  Tastes light, more of a roast chicken or game bird red than a steak red. It would have gone well with the quail from Feisty Acres we bought at the Riverhead Farmer’s Market and had for Valentine’s Day dinner.  But it is soft, pleasant, and quite drinkable.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $18.99

Another pretty label, this one with Pegasus, the flying horse, on it, reminds us that Pindar is named for the Greek poet and owned by the Damianos family, who are Greek.  The wine spends two years in American oak barrels, and has just been out for six months.  I like the aroma, which has a bit of a black olive smell.  This is another fairly light red, dry, with some tannins and tastes of stewed prune and spice, maybe allspice.  My husband thinks it could use more time.

Pegasus, the flying horse

Pegasus, the flying horse

  1. 2013 Merlot $18.99

Merlot is the most popular red wine grape around here, and this is a fairly typical example of a merlot, though with more of a café au lait aroma than most.  My tasting buddy says it reminds him of Hopjes candy.  I’m thinking mocha.  Again, nice and soft, dry at the end, with some nice fruit flavor, but not particularly interesting.

Another Greek reference--the Argo, Jason's chip.

Another Greek reference–the Argo, Jason’s ship.

  1. 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $34.99

“This,” says our server enthusiastically, “is my favorite!”  Yes, I can see why.  It is quite good.  Oak (two years in French oak), cherry, and tobacco aromas, with lots of berry tastes, this would have gone well with the lamb chops we had last night.  Very drinkable.

  1. 2010 Reserve Merlot $34.99

The menu informs us that these grapes were hand-picked and the wine spent two years in French oak.  We smell black cherry and dark plum and taste lots of dark fruit tastes.  Yes, it is better than their other merlot.  Then again, everyone says 2010 was a very good year, especially for reds.

Lots of snacks

Lots of snacks

Reasons to visit:  big room that accommodates a crowd (which might also be a reason not to go!); frequent music performances; good prices for Long Island; the Autumn Gold, Sunflower Chardonnay, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2010 Reserve Merlot; they sell cheese and crackers and other snacks; lots of choices; wines that non-wine drinkers may prefer.

Plenty of room at the bars

Plenty of room at the bars

Me

Pretty stained glass window

Pretty stained glass window

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Clearly they've won lots of awards.

Clearly they’ve won lots of awards.

Pindar Vineyards: Greek Poetry January 25, 2014

http://www.pindar.net/

Pindar's Field

Pindar’s Field

Old Man Winter certainly has the North Fork in his grip.  (Why old?  Why man?  I haven’t the foggiest.)  All the farm stands, even Bayview and Briermere, are closed, and the fields are quiet under a coating of snow and ice.  So we thought about the warmth of the Greek Isles and headed to Pindar, named for the Greek poet.  While the room wasn’t overly warm—we kept our jackets on, though unzipped—the greeting certainly was.  The tasting room is in a converted potato barn, featuring multiple rows of tasting bars and a beautiful stained glass window.  When we entered we were surprised to see the room was empty, since there were plenty of cars in the lot, but our server informed us that there was a large group in another building for a barrel tasting, and the room was soon quite busy for a January afternoon.  They have a selection of wine-related gift items and plenty of cheese and crackers for sale, which is fortunate since they don’t allow outside food.

pindar window

This room is only one of the sites run by Dr. Damianos, the owner, and his family.  They also own Duck Walk, which has a site on the South Fork as well, and his son Jason owns Jason’s Vineyard (which I reviewed back in June), plus they have a satellite tasting room in Port Jefferson for those who don’t care to trek to the North Fork.  They also like to tout how eco-friendly they are, with a wind turbine for power, composting and recycling, and other green techniques.

Rows of tasting bars

Rows of tasting bars

As we sipped, we appreciated the quiet guitar and folk-ish singing of John Kroo in the background.  Tastings consist of 5 tastes for $10, chosen from a menu with 15 choices, plus limited production wines available for $3 each.  We opted to do five whites and five reds, sharing tastes of each.  Our server, who was young and enthusiastic and clearly engaged in learning all he could about wine, carefully rinsed our glass between tastes and was able to answer most of our questions about the wines.  We were happily surprised by how many of the wines we liked, since we had not been to Pindar in years because we remembered not liking many of the wines.  There was still one we dumped, but more about that later.

pindar singer

1)      Autumn Gold                           $10.99

Our server looked at the choices we circled on the tasting menu and then carefully coordinated our tasting so we went in the best order, starting with the lightest white.  The tasting notes compare this to a Pinot Grigio, which I can see, as it is a dry white with lots of pineapple taste and a bit of funkiness.  The funkiness is probably from the Seyval Blanc grape, an upstate grape, which is here blended with Chardonnay.  Fine for an everyday white.

2)      2012 Sauvignon Blanc           $18.99

The aroma is a combination of mineral and lemon, and the taste is also citrus-y.  Also a light wine, this would be good with oysters, as in general we feel Sauvignon Blancs are.  There’s plenty of acid here, and the tasting notes say lemon grass, which seems about right.

3)      2012 Sunflower Chardonnay              $!8.99

Why sunflower, we ask?  In the summer, the field next to the winery is filled with sunflowers, the sale of which goes to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation, we are told.  I like the label.  The wine?  Okay.  My husband says it reminds him or Werther’s Butterscotch Candy, so if you like a really oaky Chard, go for it.  There is, however, a bit of acid which helps make this a sippable white, and I think lots of people would like it well chilled on a summer afternoon.

pindar sunflower

4)      2012 Peacock Chardonnay                  $12.99

Why peacock?  Uh-oh, our usually well-informed server doesn’t know, but I bet he will as soon as he gets a chance to find out.  Smells and tastes like a Granny Smith apple, with maybe a hint of banana.  That makes it sound like fruit salad, but actually it is a pleasant white.

5)      Winter White                          $10.99

This may be their most popular white, but our savvy server has already figured out that we won’t care for it.  He says he recommends it to people who say, “I don’t really care for wine, so what should I try?”  Sweet!  Another Seyval Blanc/Chardonnay blend.  We dump it after one sip each, and it was this taste that reminded us why we hadn’t been back in years.

6)      Pythagoras                                                $$14.99

Remember the Pythagorean theory? I do—sort of.  At least, I remember being taught it.  The label, which features an illustration of the theory, also calls this a “geometrical blend.”  More conventionally, this is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.  It has the classic black currant aroma but is softer than I expect, with some notes of oak and mineral.  It would be an okay everyday wine, and is fairly dry, though surprisingly simple for a blend like this.

Note illustration on label!

Note illustration on label!

7)      2010 Syrah                 $14.99

So 2010 is one of those great years for Long Island wines—and 2013 is forecast to be even better—so we are interested to taste these reds.  Not that many places on the North Fork make a Syrah, and we quite like this one.  The aroma is complicated, with some cedar notes and a mouth-puckering flavor of unripe plums that would be great with a fatty meat like lamb.  Actually, we like it, and buy a couple of bottles.

8)      2010 Merlot              $16.99

This is a good, typical Long Island Merlot, with tastes of tobacco and dark chocolate and plum, without the barnyard odor or flavor you sometimes get.

The ship on the label seems to be a reference to the Argonaut, Jason's ship, and a theme of Jason's tasting room.

The ship on the label seems to be a reference to the Argo, Jason’s ship, and a theme of Jason’s tasting room.

9)      2009 Pegasus Cabernet Sauvignon  $$16.99

On the other hand, this wine does have some barnyard odor, plus allspice and prunes.  The taste is better than the smell, and I will borrow my description of the taste from my granddaughter who guesses wine will taste wine-y (without ever having tasted it!).  Why the flying horse?  No idea, but the label is pretty.

pindar pegasus

10)   2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon                  $34.99

Extra!  Noting our serious demeanor and knowledge of wine, our server adds a small taste of the Reserve Cab Sauv to our tasting, which turns out to be a smart move as we later buy a bottle to keep in the cellar.  Excellent.  Although the aroma reminds me of a red candy, the taste is complex, with lots of black cherry and plum, plus other notes.  It would be great with a steak on the grill.

11)   2010 Cabernet Franc                              $34.99

Pine forest aroma and black berry taste make this a nice wine, though not worth the price.  It has lots of fruit but is pleasantly dry.

Someone at Pindar clearly likes to collect corkscrews.

Someone at Pindar clearly likes to collect corkscrews.

Reasons to visit:  Large tasting room with plenty of space for big groups; the 2010 Syrah and the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; the Sunflower Chardonnay if you like an oaky Chard; good prices for Long Island wines;attractive labels; they care about the environment.

pindar field 2