02/09/17 6:00am
Long Island Wine

Macari Vineyards 2015 Horse Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

This weekend, Macari Vineyards will celebrate the release of our wine of the week: Macari Vineyards 2015 “Horses” Sparkling Cabernet Franc.

It’s the second release of one of a wine that quickly developed a rabid following last year. The 2013 edition was so popular with wine professionals and consumers alike that it sold out in months.

There is little doubt that it’s a unique, and uniquely delicious wine. Or that it was a bit of a surprise hit. One of the biggest in 2016, I think. (more…)

01/30/17 6:01am
Raphael La Fontana. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Raphael La Fontana. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

“My goal for this wine is more savory and tannin driven, but still light on its feet. The influence is from my love of Italian wines, in this case particularly Barolo.”

That’s how Raphael winemaker, Anthony Nappa, describes his approach to Raphael 2013 La Fontana, a blend of estate-grown merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot that was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. You won’t hear many local winemakers talk about Italy as their inspiration, but Nappa often does. It’s refreshing in a region still dominated with Bordeaux references and descriptions of why the wines aren’t like those in California. (more…)

01/28/17 6:02am
Palmer Vineyards 2015 Pinot Blanc.

Palmer Vineyards 2015 Pinot Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

I’ve been tasting and drinking wines from Palmer Vineyards for many years, but it wasn’t until I visited a couple of weeks ago and tasted through the entire lineup that I realized something: Above all else, this is a white wine house. And that’s OK. It’s great, in fact, because many of the white wines are great.

We all know that Long Island Wine Country is supposed to be about merlot. Or maybe merlot and chardonnay, the two most-planted grapes. They are the cornerstones of many wineries’ production and portfolios. (more…)

01/23/17 9:20am
Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Long Island’s 2001 vintage was remarkable mostly for how it ended.

“We had 10 to 14 days of Indian Summer,” said Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s partner and winemaker Roman Roth. “The last grapes were being picked in December.”

For Kareem Massoud, it was memorable as the year he started to make wines at Paumanok Vineyards, his family’s winery. He remembers the late-season weather too.

“I remember standing out in the vineyard in December. It was in the 70s and it just seemed remarkable,” he said during a recent tasting at the Aquebogue vineyard.

For me, the 2001 vintage is memorable because its red wines were on the market when I first started writing about Long Island wine. It was the vintage that showed me Long Island’s potential and made me fall in love with the region. (more…)

01/18/17 11:38am
Palmer Vineyards 2015 Pinot Blanc.

Palmer Vineyards 2015 Pinot Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

It’s easy to get in a wine-drinking rut.

Even for someone like me — someone who is willing to taste most any wine from any region in the world — it’s a natural tendency to stick with what you like. Take that tendency, and the fact that there are few local tasting rooms where I feel comfortable bringing my family with me, and you end up with a narrow band of local wines finding their way into my glass. (more…)

01/14/17 6:00am
Snowy Vines

A snowy January day at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue. In this column our wine writer ponders what 2017 will bring in Long Island Wine Country.

New year. Time to reflect. Time to look forward. A fresh start. All that stuff. It’s that time of year — again.

A lot happened in wine country during 2016, but that’s true every year and it’s not worth rehashing the year that was. I’m a look-forward guy. I like to think about and even try to predict what might come next.

(more…)