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…)
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…)
The brand new Southold Farm + Cellar tasting room. (Credit: Regan Meador courtesy)
On Friday, Southold Farm + Cellar’s second day back in business after more than a year, co-owner and winemaker Regan Meador tells me he has just killed five scorpions. They commonly crawl along his 62-acre property and can range in size from the diameter of a quarter to the length of a human palm, he says.
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…)
Martha Clara Vineyards Estate Reserve Riesling. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)
When a lot of people think about New York riesling, they think about the Finger Lakes region in central New York, where it has earned a reputation for consistent quality. Some local wineries buy riesling juice from up there and make the wines here. Often, you’ll see “New York State” listed on those labels where you’d usually see “North Fork of Long Island” or “The Hamptons, Long Island.”
But that doesn’t mean that the Finger Lakes have a monopoly on delicious, food-friendly riesling in New York. (more…)
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.