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…)

07/12/17 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…)

06/30/17 6:01am
Sauvignon Blanc

Macari Vineyards Lifeforce Sauvignon Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thomspson)

Summer and Long Island sauvignon blanc go hand in hand. As the hot, humid weather descends upon us, the bright citrusy flavors of local sauvignon slakes our thirst and refreshes us.

But not all Long Island Sauvignon Blanc is created equal. There are myriad styles thanks to experimentation on the part of local winemakers. Some producers pick their grapes a bit earlier to capture the most acidity. Others wait a bit longer to mitigate some of the green flavors that many expect in sauvignon blanc. You’ll find varying degrees of skin contact, lees contact and even barrel fermentation or aging too.

Note: Keep an eye out for the next issue of Long Island Wine Press, where we take and in-depth look at Long Island Sauvignon Blanc.  

Our “Wine of the Week,” Macari Vineyards 2015 Lifeforce Sauvignon Blanc, shows of yet another experimental side of local sauvignon blanc. Winemaker Kelly Koch uses one of the winery’s concrete eggs — they look exactly how you’re picturing them — to ferment a portion of the Lifeforce blend. The remainder is fermented in stainless steel. (more…)

06/28/17 6:01am
Bordo Antico

Anthony Nappa with a bottle of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico, the first certified organic wine grown and produced on Long Island. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Editor’s note:  An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the classification of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico as Long Island’s first certified organic wine. It is certified “wine made with organic grapes,” according to NOFA-NY. 

Organic local food enthusiasts can now incorporate wine into that lifestyle.

Anthony Nappa Wines released Bordo Antico last month, the first certified wine made with organic grapes grown and produced on Long Island. It’s also the first certified organic vitis vinifera — meaning common wine grape variety — bottle grown and produced in all of New York State.

“It’s a pretty cool barrier to break,” said Nappa, who in addition to his own label owns The Winemaker Studio and is winemaker at Raphael Winery, both in Peconic. “For me, if you tell me something is impossible, I’m like ‘Let’s do this.’”

Although this is the region’s first certified bottle made with organic grapes, one farmer, Rex Farr of Calverton, has been harvesting organic grapes since 2011. Mr. Farr has sold his grapes to local wineries, although none have received certification to produce organic wine. (more…)

06/16/17 6:01am

Raphael 2015 Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

This time of year it’s always great to have an armory of barbecue red red wines at one’s disposal — bottles that are fruity, not too complicated and most definitely affordable. Opinions vary on the “best” wines for food hot off the grill, but drinking what tastes good to you matters more than anything any so-called expert says. Even this one.

Our “Wine of the Week,” Raphael 2015 Cabernet Franc ($23), is a good option if you like local cabernet franc in a silky smooth style.

Winemaker Anthony Nappa has spent much of his career here on the Island dedicated to making wines that remain true to the region’s terroir and letting the vintage’s conditions shine through. (more…)

06/09/17 6:00am

Suhru Wines Sauvignon Blanc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

Australia-born local winemaker Russell Hearn is perhaps best known for his time at Pellegrini Vineyards or maybe for his work today at Lieb Cellars where he is making some of the region’s best value wines. But you may not realize just how busy he is. (more…)