Notes on the Long Island wine scene: Uncork the Forks

Some of my favorite columnists — in wine, sports and beyond — occasionally write columns that touch on a variety of topics, quick-fire style, rather than writing about a single topic. I like those columns, but have rarely written one myself.

However, as local vineyards swell with ever-ripening fruit that is soon to be picked, I have a lot of things I want to write about. So I’m going to give it a shot this week.

• A lot of people have been asking me — in person, on social media and via email — what I think about Paumanok Vineyards acquiring Palmer Vineyards earlier this summer. I think it’s great. I have long admired the Massoud family and their approach to wine and the business of wine. I look forward to seeing what winemaker Kareem Massoud does with the albariño planted at Palmer and seeing how the overall portfolio grows and changes over time. Palmer Vineyards is in good hands.

• Related to that, it’s wonderful that Palmer’s longtime winemaker, Miguel Martin, has moved on to join the Wölffer Estate winemaking team. Martin is a great guy and this is a region that needs to retain winemaking talent, not let it leave.

• PSA time: I know that many of you have been drinking a lot of rosé all summer. That’s great, but there is no reason to stop now that summer is over and the weather is cooling (it will eventually, right?). I drink rosé year-round, but I’m particularly fond of it with Thanksgiving dinner. I won’t call it a “perfect pairing” because I don’t believe there is such a thing, but I won’t get into that here.

• I’ve noticed some wine label redesigns on the North Fork lately. Of what I’ve seen, I like what Jamesport Vineyards has done. I’m still loving those pet-nats, too.

• McCall Wines has earned its reputation primarily on the back of pinot noir and red blends, but the 2017 Cuvée Nicola Sauvignon Blanc is a stunner. One of the best I’ve tasted.

• If you’re on the North Fork or points west, now is the time to drive to the Hamptons to visit Wölffer Estate and Channing Daughters. Even I avoid driving to the Hamptons most of the summer, but those are two of the island’s top wineries. I’d recommend a wine or two from each, but that’s difficult. There’s a lot of good wine at each — and vermouth at Channing Daughters.

• Beware of the pumpkin pickers. They are coming. A lot of them. The traffic they bring with them will make the summer’s lavender traffic have the feel of an empty country lane. Be strategic and time your winery visits accordingly.

• I mentioned this in my last column, but I’m going to mention it again: I really hope more of Long Island’s top producers will submit wines to the New York Wine Classic next year. Long Island should dominate the merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc categories every year. Without question.

That’s it for this week. Have questions or comments? Email me at lenn.thompson@gmail.com and maybe I’ll answer them in a future column!

Lenn Thompson has been writing about American wine — with a focus on New York —for nearly 15 years. After running newyorkcorkreport.com for 12 years, he launched thecorkreport.us in 2016 and The Cork Report Podcast soon after. He lives in Miller Place with his wife and two children.

2 Comment

  • Nice bullet items, Lenn, but I have one comment. You stated “Long Island should dominate the merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc categories every year. Without question.” I agree with Long Island dominating the merlot and cabernet sauvignon categories, but I think there are some producers of cab franc in the Finger Lakes (i.e. Hermann J. Wiemer, Magdalena Vineyard) that give Long Island a run for their money…