Open That Bottle Night

2006_CdBMeritageFor our first trip to the North Fork of Long Island we attended Wine Camp. With each winery, that you visit, you learn a different aspect of the wine business; from the owners or winemakers. A very personal and hands-on approach, we blended wine at one, pruned vines at another and learned alot about the region and it’s wines. It was a very special experience. And on the last night we celebrated with a wine/food pairing at Castello di Borghese.

The owners, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese were gracious hosts and true ambassadors for the wine region.

One of the rewards, of Wine Camp, is a mixed case from each of the participating wineries, including two bottles from Borghese.

Over the years we enjoyed these wines, for special occasions, and each time it brought back great memories. Continue reading

Thanksgiving wines! It’s that time of year, again…

Tomatoes shriveled on the vine

Thanksgiving is one of the toughest meals to pair with a single wine. At a traditional meal you have savory elements (stuffing/gravy), and sweet elements (cranberry dressing), as well as a good amount of fat (flavor) but also delicate white meat.

In addition, throw in some items that are hard to pair with anything (Brussels sprouts, turnips) and you have a challenge on your hand.

 Challenge accepted!

First off, Thanksgiving is really about your loved ones, around the table, and you should serve wines that your family/friends enjoy drinking.  Secondly, the food is really the star, and in my opinion wines should take a backseat.

 Safe Bets for Thanksgiving if you can only serve ONE wine… Continue reading

​For Rosè Lovers Only

On a recent wine trip to the North Fork of Long Island we discovered a fantastic new (to us) winery, Croteaux Vineyards.

Unlike many of the other wineries in the area they do not allow larger groups (more than 8), and do not accept limos, buses, taxis, or any hired car services.

These ‘rules’ provide for a calm, relaxing vibe to sit back and enjoy delicious Rosè-only, wine.

Even though Rosè is generally given its own category, it is technically a very light Red wine.

All of the Rosès at Croteaux Vineyard are made as the final product. As they say, “Rosè on Purpose!”

This distinguishes their wines, from the majority of Rosès, which are often made as a by-product of  red wine production using the saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay’) method, which means to “bleed off”.

Basically the red wine maker has a big vat of grape juice and skins that they leave fermenting together to make a darker colored and more flavorful wine. They remove some of the liquid to let the remaining liquid and skins become more concentrated.

Normally what is removed becomes Rosè wine.

NOT so at Croteaux, where they grow Cabernet Franc and  Merlot specifically for the beautifully colored wines, of various styles, to be enjoyed by all.

The Wine Menu

Not to be outdone by the wines, the packaging of EVERYTHING- from the logo and their colors, to the bottle labels, t-shirts, and garden outside, is trendy and elegant.

Next time you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend you visit and buy someone special a gift here. Since they are fairly small production you probably won’t find them anywhere else.

I plan on making  Croteaux Vineyards  a regular stop to sip and chill…

Tolerant Taster approved!

 

 

 

 

July 4th- A NY State of Mind…Summer Wines

To celebrate July 4th, or any hot summer day, I recommend drinking American beer/wine. Our economy needs it!

Here are a few of my “local favorites”; all wines from the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Riesling (Dry)- Paumanok 2007- $22

From the producer:
“Aromas of lime, green apple, lilies, lilac and other white flowers and a hint of ginger. Bone dry with flavors of lime, green apple, white apricot and intense acidity.”

Paumanok also makes a nice Chenin Blanc as as well- $25

 

Sauvignon Blanc (NICOLA’S CUVEE)- McCall 2010- $24 (pictured)

The wine had just been bottled and they didn’t have labels yet but I convinced the winemaker to let me buy it. He improvised and “created” a label from an existing Chardonnay label. Gotta love it.

 From the producer:
“Crisp and elegantly refined with minerality reminiscent of Loire Valley’s classic Sancerre. This low production wine offers exceptional quality which may prove to be the best vintage ever for Long Island wine. A must with local shellfish.”

 

Rosé- Wölffer Estate 2010- $20

From the producer:
“The floral aroma hints of a freshly cut wildflower field. The mouth is filled with fresh berries and a note of wild strawberries.”

Drinks like a glass of Summer!

 

Chardonnay:
Shinn Vineyards 2010- $20

Shinn is working toward becoming the first Long Island winery to be certified Organic. They are doing all the right things, in the vineyard, and in the production of their wines.

 From the producer:
“This unwood style Chardonnay showcases bright mineral characters washed in exotic fruit and gentle mouthwatering acidity. A long 8 month post fermentation lees contact adds spicy overtones and silky texture while pear and tropical flavors give way to a polished finish.”

 

Chardonnay Lenz Old Vines 2008- $25…but you need to be a Wine Club member (I am)

From the producer:
“The Old Vines style is intended to emphasize fruit intensity, balance and elegance.  We use very limited barrel fermentation and oak-aging tends to be ‘neutral,’ meaning we only use older barrels that allow the wine to achieve greater complexity and flavor concentration but leave less of an oak fingerprint on the wine.  Old Vines Chardonnay is focused on flavors of apple and pear with notes of fig.”

 

A note of caution: The North Fork of Long Island isn’t well known for making great wines, but they do, and they often sell out of everything they make. However, Long Island has difficult growing conditions for wine grapes and the wine quality can vary from year to year. The wines that I tasted with the producers and am drinking now are from 2007/2010 vintages which were both excellent. Some are still available in stores.

The latest vintage, 2011 was NOT a year that I can recommend yet as I have heard that it was a difficult vintage (Hurricane Irene) and I have not tried any of them.

American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Lessons learned at Wine Camp- A look back…

Last year, my wife and I traveled to the North Fork of Long Island to attend wine camp– 3 days of access to some of the best winegrowers in the area.

Welcome!


If you love wine
and have never been to a wine growing region- plan a trip, now!

It is enlightening to see how wine grapes are grown. Visiting a winery allows you to appreciate the effort required to produce wine and to enjoy the passion, of everyone involved in the process.

Every glass of wine you drink afterwards will taste better.

What I learned at wine camp:


Wine growing is FARMING. It it is HARD work
and a difficult way to earn a living.

Most wineries are not chateaus
but rather modest, generally clean environments for producing  a reliable, consistent product.

“Chateau” Old Field- lovely people live/work here

Wine people (producers, owners, tasting room managers) are fun, patient people who LOVE to talk wine and answer questions, so feel free to ask away.

Vintage does Matter
The vintage year (the year listed on the bottle) is ALWAYS the year the grapes were harvested, not when it is released (available on shelves). Therefore it is a snapshot of what happened in the vineyard during that growing season.

The North Fork has a cool, sometimes cold, maritime climate. Similar to Bordeaux it is greatly  influenced by dramatic, unpredictable weather shifts.   In 2010 when we visited, winemakers were anticipating a fantastic harvest. For the entire spring, temperatures were moderate, they had plenty of sun, and the grapes were ripening very well. Literally the day we left, a hail storm hit and some wineries lost as much as a third of their crops in one day!

Check your grapes! Europeans have spent thousands of years determining what grows best in a certain area. Most have laws that restrict what can be grown, and how it can be grown, to maintain the integrity of a specific region.

We do not have many of these laws in the United States so you will be well served to ask winemakers what grows best in their region, and stick to wines made with those grapes.

The PRODUCER is important (Look at the name of the winery)
A good producer provides quality and consistency. Many factors are out of their control: weather, temperature, hungry birds, etc. But a good producer can make a good wine in a not so good vintage. And a reputable producer won’t even make wine in a poor vintage!

Read on for some of my favorite producers from the trip: Continue reading