The Wines of North Fork, Long Island

New York is well known for its wines, and winery-hopping was definitely on our to-do list when we visited over the beautiful Columbus Day weekend. A little research here, a few questions to the locals there, and we were off to explore the vineyards on Route 25, North Fork, Long Island.

Our first stop was
The Old Field Vineyards where we experienced not only our favorite wine of the day but also the best hospitality. Warm and welcoming, the ladies running Old Field chatted, poured, and gave great tips on how to spend the day. We enjoyed their spicy 2006 Cabernet Franc, but especially liked the light, smooth and inexpensive Rooster Tail.

There was a party going on a
Osprey's Dominion, with limos and buses and what looked to be bachelorettes everywhere, but we braved the mob and were rewarded. Above the din, a gentleman described each wine we tasted in great detail. Highlights here included the award-winning 2005 Cabernet Franc (so different from the 2006!), the rich and velvety Port, and the Spice Wine (served warm, it reminded us of the hot mulled wine we enjoyed on the streets of Prague). Plus, the Italian cheese plate was worth every cent.

We loved the wine-country look of
Lenz - lots of barn and barrels, and we were intrigued by the fact that they beat Petrus in a blind tasting. Still, none of the wines we tasted really spoke to us.

Our next stop was a total bust. We went into
Bedell Cellars looking for the Cab Franc we enjoyed at the previous night's dinner, to find it is only sold at their "sister winery," Corey Creek. We made a mental note to stop there on the way home and headed back out on our journey.

Peconic Bay, we were treated to live music and hot food for sale (the chicken pot pie was especially delish). Both the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were good, and the (somewhat disingenuous) staffer claimed that the 2007 Merlot was "the best vintage on Long Island, ever." Perhaps we're hard to please, but nothing from Peconic came home to Connecticut with us.

After a few disappointing stops, we decided to go with what we know and went further down the road to
Pellegrini, where we were once guests at a wedding. It was as beautiful as we remembered, and the wines were excellent. Our pourer was focused, friendly and very helpful. He was knowledgeable about the wine and not afraid to share his own opinion. Highlights here included the hearty 2007 Steakhouse Red, the silky 2005 Cab Franc, and the surprisingly flavorful 2005 Merlot, all of which are headed into our cellar to age.

Clovis Point seems to be a relative newcomer to the scene, with only four wines available. We tried them all. The standout was the 2006 Barrel-fermented Chardonnay, because it tasted like buttered toast. Their award-winning 2004 Merlot couldn't hold a candle to Pellegini's 2005.

Our last,and most exciting, tasting was at
Jamesport Vineyards. Live jazz by "Jazz on the Half Shell" accompanied a $1 per oyster tasting benefiting the Southold Project for Aquaculture Training (upcoming post on that). Their 2006 Pinot Noir was very good but at $35, was also one of the most expensive wines we tried and we decided not to buy a bottle.

The end of the day found a case of wine in the trunk, mostly empty wallets (there is a charge for tastings on Long Island!) and two tuckered out travelers who needed a nap before dinner. But it was a really fun day and we'd recommend a visit to anyone who loves good wine!!!

No comments: