If one were to build a Mount Rushmore of Long Island wine, there is little doubt that longtime Lenz Winery winemaker Eric Fry — and his signature beard — would be immortalized on it.
Over the course of his decades-long career making wine on the North Fork, Fry, who is planning to retire this year, has earned his reputation as one of the region’s top winemakers.
That reputation has been built largely on the back of his Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, which are some of the best and most age-worthy on the East Coast.
What sometimes gets lost in the red wine-soaked fray is the quality of Fry’s sparkling wines. It flies under the radar for many wine lovers, but Long Island has been putting out some delicious, traditionally made sparkling wine for years and Fry’s are among the most consistently excellent.
If you like simple, fruity sparklers — think Prosecco — this week’s Wine of the Week, Lenz Winery 2013 Cuvee ($40) maybe isn’t for you. It’s made with 100 percent estate-grown Pinot Noir and while the nose shows nice fruit qualities reminiscent of white cherries, green apple and pear, it also features toasty, biscuity and yeasty notes.
There is a beam of apple-cherry on the palate, but the toasty, yeasty notes carry over too, along with a faint citrusy quality. Medium-light in body, this bubbly offers crisp acidity and a very dry finish that lingers nicely with a touch of lemon-citrus at the very end.
Don’t think of sparkling wine as something you should only drink on special occasions. With wines like this one, the wine makes any occasion special.
It’s available for $40 at the winery’s Peconic tasting room.