07/20/17 6:00am

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard 2014 Syrah. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Compared to other red grapes like merlot, cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc, you just don’t see a lot of syrah being grown on Long Island. And you don’t find many varietal Syrahs — that is wines made of at least 75 percent Syrah with that word printed on the label.

Maybe I’ll get into the reasons why in an upcoming column, but for now just know that there just aren’t that many. But, they always seem to stand out in my tastings. Maybe it’s just the novelty of them — they have entirely different flavor profiles than those other red grapes — but I almost always like them. Maybe not as much as I like Syrah from the Northern Rhone, but still, I feel like there is unrealized potential for this grape here on the North Fork.

Our “Wine of the Week,” Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard 2014 Syrah, hints at that potential. (more…)

07/15/17 6:00am
vineyard grapes

The vines at Paumanok Vineyards on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

We’re two-plus months into the 2017 grape-growing season, a time when I always like to check in with local growers and winemakers to find out how the season is going, how it compares to other seasons and how close to “normal” it’s been so far.

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07/12/17 10:21am

Two glasses of sparkling wine at Sparkling Pointe in Southold. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Pop!

Champagne is all about fun. We love those cascading bubbles, that vivacious zing and the laughs that follow. It symbolizes celebration. But for a winemaker, champagne and other “methode champenoise” sparkling wines present winemaking’s greatest challenge. (more…)

07/12/17 9:46am

Bridge Lane Wines red blend. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

There are two main theories when it comes to pairing wine with food, mirroring flavors or contrasting them. Having a heavy pasta dish with butter, cream and maybe some pancetta? You could have a rich chardonnay with a healthy dose of oak to reinforce the same flavors. Or you could have a bright, citrusy unoaked white that cuts through the heft and weight of the food.

Personally, I lean toward the contrasting mode of wine pairing. (more…)

07/11/17 6:03am
Roanoke Vineyards

Richie Pisacano at Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

You could argue the region’s best wines — both from a fan perspective and that of a wine critic — are grown by Richie Pisacano.

It’s in part because Pisacano, vineyard manger at Wölffer Estate Vineyard and co-owner of Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead, has the benefit of 40 years’ experience in an industry that is just four years older than that.

The longtime vineyard manager took a job with Mudd Vineyards in 1977, at age 15, working to install some of the North Fork’s first vineyards. Now 55, he’s probably the youngest person among the first wave of Long Island wine growers still working in the business.

He recalled the energy and enthusiasm in the region after the Hargraves planted the first commercial grapes in Cutchogue in 1973.

“We started grafting grapevines and that’s what drew me in,” he said during an early June interview. “It was magnetic.” (more…)

07/10/17 6:06am

Several local bottles of sauvignon blanc. (Credit: David Benthal)

“We planted about five acres of sauvignon blanc because we couldn’t get any chardonnay until the next year.”

And that, according to Louisa Hargrave, is how Long Island’s first sauvignon blanc vines found themselves planted in Cutchogue by her and her then-husband, Alex Hargrave. That first year, the vines were eaten to the ground by rabbits, so it took an extra year for the region’s first sauvignon blanc vines to really get going — but as the saying goes, the rest is history for this increasingly important Long Island wine grape.  READ