08/26/17 6:00am

Our Lenn Thompson notes that tasting room pourers are frequently the public face of any winery. (Credit: David Benthal Photography)

People who talk and write about wine, myself included, often talk about soils, growing seasons, weather, disease pressure and harvest timing. We focus on winemaker decisions about fermentation vessels or yeast strains or barrel aging. But a couple recent experiences at local tasting rooms reminded me of the unsung heroes of any winery — the people pouring the wines in the tasting room.

Over the course of a midweek jaunt on the North Fork, my wife, friends and I visited a handful of tasting rooms — some regular favorites, some that we hadn’t visited in a long time.

At one tasting room, which I’m choosing not to identify by name, we had an exchange with the young lady behind the tasting bar that I will summarize and paraphrase as such: (more…)

08/25/17 10:25am

A bottle of Harbes Vineyard 2014 Merlot. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

During a recent tasting of more than a dozen local merlots (look for the story in the next issue of Long Island Wine Press), I was pleasantly surprised by just how good almost every wine was. They were fruit forward almost without exception while also being clean, bright and absolutely food friendly.  Merlot is maligned here and there by some — myself included — but it’s clear that local vineyard managers and winemakers have zeroed in on what it takes to make local merlot shine.

I can’t include every delicious wine in that forthcoming story, so we’ll make one of the last cuts this week’s “Wine of the Week” instead. (more…)

08/18/17 11:29am

Martha Clara Vineyards Pinot Grigio is our ‘Wine of the Week.’ (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Pinot Grigio, most of it anyway, is barely wine. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but most of the stuff you see on store shelves and on restaurant wine lists is rather insipid. I’d call it more of an easy-drinking inebriant than wine.

On the other hand, maybe it’s better than all of the barrel-bludgeoned chardonnay you’ll find at most bars and restaurants.

That isn’t the point here, though. The point is that most Pinot Grigio is boring and not something that I have use for in my day-to-day drinking rotation. (more…)

08/12/17 6:00am

A scene from the 2017 Harvest East End. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

I should preface my thoughts on this past weekend’s Harvest East End event, held at Martha Clara Vineyards, by mentioning that I don’t particularly enjoy these sorts of events. Six hundred-plus people, wine glasses in hand, moving from table to table tasting wine is a lot of fun, yes, but I greatly prefer tasting and drinking wine in a more intimate setting, one where consideration and conversation are more appropriate — and possible.

That said, it’s impossible for me to do anything but commend the organizers of this year’s event. Harvest East End has changed a lot over the years, and not always for the (more…)

08/05/17 10:53am

A glass of Bedell Cellars gewürztraminer pét-nat, enjoyed on the deck of the Tap Room at Corey Creek. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Earlier this week I visited Bedell Cellars’ new Tap Room at Corey Creek for the first time. It’s a decidedly more casual, fun space, with all tastings poured from taps (rather than bottle) and growlers available for fill and take home. (more…)

07/29/17 6:00am

Martha Clara Vineyards 2016 sauvignon blanc was a standout for our Lenn Thompson during a recent tasting. (Credit: Madison Fender)

When visiting wineries on the East End, my wife and I have fallen into a bit of a rut. We go to Winery A first, then we go to Winery B and if our kids — now 5 and 10 — are behaving, we may squeeze in Winery C before taking them to Magic Fountain as a reward. Wineries A, B and C rarely (maybe never?) change. We know we’ll like the wines. We know that our kids are welcome. They are the safe bets and there is comfort in that.

(more…)