02/25/17 6:00am
Our Lenn Thompson led Roanoke Vineyards wine club members through a tasting of several sparkling wines, including those made in the pétilliant naturel style. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Our Lenn Thompson led Roanoke Vineyards wine club members through a tasting of several sparkling wines, including those made in the pétilliant naturel style. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Last weekend, as part of a series of “Locations” wine salons I’ve been leading at Roanoke Vineyard every couple of months, I guided 34 of the winery’s wine club members and friends through a tasting of eight sparkling wines. All but one was from New York, the outlier being an albariño pét-nat from Mid-Atlantic newcomer Old Westminster Winery in Maryland. These tastings typically focus on a single region-grape combination, like Finger Lakes riesling, or a variety across multiple regions, like when we explored cabernet franc made across New York.

(more…)

02/11/17 6:00am
Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. Thompson said a majority of the bottles held up well. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Lenn Thompson and a group of East End winemakers sampled these 2001 Long Island reds. Thompson said a majority of the bottles held up well. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

A lot of winemakers — and admittedly, wine writers — like to talk about how long a wine will age. You may see at the end of a tasting note, either at a winery or in a glossy wine magazine: “Drink now through 2030.” I’ve also heard from local winemakers that customers will occasionally make their buying decisions based in part on how long the pourer says a wine will age in their cellar.

There is a lot of confusion and quite a bit of mythology out there when it comes to these sorts of tasting windows and prophecies.

(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…)

01/14/17 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…)

12/24/16 6:01am
Kelly Koch

Our Lenn Thompson highlights Macari winemaker Kelly Koch as a standout winemaker in 2016. (Credit: David Benthal for northforker)

Before I dive into my final column of 2016, I just want to take a quick moment to thank you for caring enough about what I have to say to read it every other week in these pages. I’ve been writing about wine for more than a decade now, but I still feel like I know very little about it. That’s why wine is such a fascinating and wonderful hobby (or obsession in my case) — there is always something more to learn and know. Over the past many months, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of you in person, either at the wine tasting salons I’ve hosted at Roanoke Vineyards or just out and about on the tasting trail. Thank you for saying hello. Keep doing it. (more…)

12/10/16 6:01am
Madiran The Wine Bar

Both Madiran The Wine Bar in East Setauket and Beers, Burgers and Desserts in Rocky Point are worth the drive from the North Fork. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

As much as I feel a part of the North Fork wine community, I don’t actually live there. I live in Miller Place — about half an hour west of Roanoke Vineyards — with my wife, two kids and dog. We’d love to live in wine country, of course, but my wife and I work in Commack and Islandia, respectively, so our commutes are already 45 minutes-plus each way. I have no desire to extend that.

There are many reasons we love the East End. The wineries, of course, lead the way, but also the restaurants and small-town feel. Once you get beyond Riverhead, you don’t see chain stores and restaurants. The restaurants in particular appeal — and how they have embraced and contribute to the culinary and wine culture of the region. There are a lot of great places to eat and drink in wine country.

(more…)

11/24/16 6:00am
Ripening grapes at Palmer Vineyards. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Ripening grapes at Palmer Vineyards. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

There is some tension in Long Island Wine Country.

It would be hyperbolic to suggest that the industry is under attack, but there is certainly a contingent of folks who would be happier if there weren’t as many (or any) wineries on the North Fork.

I’m obviously not on that side of the friction.

To borrow something that a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently about a similar divide in Santa Barbara, I fundamentally believe that grape growing, wine production, retail wine sales and wine marketing activities are all primary agricultural uses that should be allowed to thrive in Southold Town under a fair and balanced set of regulations.

Will the “fair and balanced” happen? Time will tell.

Much gets written about the so-called problems with the local wine industry. Rather than contribute to that stream of not-in-my-backyard misinformation, I want to highlight some of reasons I’m thankful for the Long Island wine industry. It’s that time of year, after all. (more…)