I’m a wine lover. A wine geek. Maybe even a wine snob from time to time. I take wine pretty seriously. I love finding and drinking great local wines as well as those from all over the world.
But I don’t want to drink that great local sauvignon blanc that cost me $27 if I’m at the beach or on a boat, where any complexity or nuance is going to get swept away by the sand and salt air. I just can’t afford to drink my favorite $50 local red blends every night and I don’t want to take that sort of wine on an early spring camping trip either.
Of course, neither do I want to drink mass-produced, industrial plonk. I still care about the wine I put in my mouth. It has to taste good. And if it’s local — thus supporting local agriculture — all the better.
That’s why I’ll always have space in my wine-drinking life for Bridge Lane wines, which include a steel chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, rosé, white merlot and merlot-heavy red blend.
The second label of Lieb Cellars, Bridge Lane makes affordable wines I’m happy to drink in most any situation. And because they are available in 750-millileter, screw-cap bottles ($20), 3-liter boxes ($38), 20-liter disposable kegs ($240)and, most recently, 375 ml cans ($34 per four-pack), they are incredibly versatile in application.
Make no mistake, these are not the North Fork’s best wines. They aren’t even the best wines Lieb makes — that would be their estate line. But they are good wines. They are clean, fresh and taste like Long Island wine. Just a more casual, less-serious expression.
General manager Ami Opisso differentiated the two lines by telling me, “Lieb wines are about us showing off. Bridge Lane wines are about us having fun. Sometimes I explain it by telling people to think of Bridge Lane as Lieb’s rebellious younger sibling.”
Bridge Lane knows what it is and that kind of self-awareness in a region and industry that sometimes lacks it is as refreshing as a can of Bridge Lane sauvignon blanc on a hot summer day.
You won’t see vintage years on the cans, but they are all 2017 wines except the red blend, which is 2016. My favorites are the sauvignon blanc, the rosé and the steel chardonnay, but if you throw me a can of any of them when I step onto your boat or into your campsite, I’ll be happy.
After a trial of 1,000 cans of Bridge Lane Rosé last summer — that sold out in two weeks — the winery decided to expand this year.
“Our first batch this year will be 39,000 (375 ml) cans split between our five Bridge Lane varieties,” Opisso said, adding, “Depending on sales, we may do a second batch later in the year.” My guess is they’ll need to do that second batch.
“Consumers and the trade are open to and excited about wine in a can,” Opisso told me in an email. “The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re seeing buyers order them without even tasting them just to get them into their stores faster.”
The cans are available at the Bridge Lane tasting room and online for $9 per can or $34 for a four-pack. Each can holds half of what a regular bottle does, so that’s roughly two large glasses — at $4.50 or less per glass.