The Long Island wine industry has grown tremendously since the first vines were planted in the early 1970’s. Now there are 2,000 acres devoted to growing grapes and 55+ vineyards and wineries on the North and South fork of the island with three of those are on the South Fork and the rest of the bulk of them on the North Fork AVA. The North Fork is a 30 mile long peninsula that’s not very wide. It was inevitable that vineyards would be planted west of the two forks and a handful of new wineries have opened for business. I spent an afternoon on a touring a few.
Harmony Vineyards 169 Harbor Road, St. James
This winery established in 1999 has to be one of the most scenic wineries on Long Island. After a drive along rolling hills you arrive at the winery and the tasting room is in an historic circa 1690 home built by one of the original European settlers. It’s like being in a museum. The back patio overlooks a vineyard sloping down to Stony Brook harbor. All their reds are a Bordeaux blend consisting of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with vintages from 2005-2016. On this Sunday afternoon I had to place all to myself.
2015 Harmonious Blend
Opaque black with a purple rim, black licorice on the nose, dark and concentrated, chewy with mint and slate notes on the nicely balanced finish.
Whispering Vineyards 485 Edgewood Avenue, St. James
First vines planted in 2004. The tasting room is in the Borellas Farm Stand which sits across the highway from the vineyard., very low key. Another tasting room all to myself.
Unfiltered 100% Merlot matured for 18 months. Opaque dark red with an amber rim, roast hazelnuts on the nose, tight and concentrated with chewy, black fruit ending with firm, silky tannins with a touch of astringency at the finish.
Del Vino Vineyards 29 Norwood Road, Northport
The first winery on the north shore wine trail as you travel East. This family run winery was built on an old apple farm. The previous two tasting rooms were a much more sedate experience since I was the only one in the room drinking, this tasting room was completly polar opposite experience. The villa type building which was opened in 2018 is a restaurant as well as a tasting room and it must be a popular restaurant because on this Sunday afternoon the place was mobbed. I was able to find a spot at the bar to sample a glass of wine and listen to the live music.
They call this their Cabernet blend but in previous vintages they included Merlot and Tempranillo. Clear medium to dark red in color, toasty red cherry and crushed rocks on the nose, rustic, with toasted nuts at the beginning and finishing with a big hit of dark chocolate.
With over 55 vineyards and wineries out on Long Island there are a lot of winemakers being kept busy. On this cloudy Sunday afternoon I decided to take a winery run to the North Fork of Long Island and sample wines made by women winemakers.
The Old Field Vineyards 59600 Main Road, Southold
Winemakers: Rosamond and Perry Bliss
Haven’t been to this out of the way vineyard for a while. They planted vinifera grapes in 1974 which makes it along with the old Hargrave Vineyard (now Castello di Borghese) which was established in 1973, the oldest vineyards on the Island. At this family run winery, you get the full rural experience. You’ll be surrounded by barns with chickens running around the property and you sample their wines made by a mother and daughter winemaking team in a rustic 1860’s tasting barn.
NV Rooster Tail
Mostly Merlot with about 10% Cabernet Franc. Opaque dark red to black in color, closed nose of slate and crushed black fruit, thick, chewy and dusty fruit with firm acidity at the finish.
One Women Winery 5195 Old North Road, Southold
Winemaker: Claudia Purita
One of my favorite wineries to visit when I’m out East. Another family run operation with probably the smallest tasting room on the wine circuit. When I walked in I spotted a bottle of Petite Vedot on the table which was a new bottling for them so I had to give it a try.
2016 Petite Verdot
Inky black with a purple rim, dried rosemary and crushed rocks on the nose, tight, dusty fruit with mouth coating tannins on the finish.
Peconic Cellar Door 2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic
Winemakers: Robin Epperson-McCarthy, Alie Shaper
One of the newest tasting rooms out East, it’s an off-site tasting room in an old general store featuring the wines from a pair of women winemakers. It’s also next door to another tasting room, the Winemaker Studio.
2017 Saltbird Sauvignon Blanc “Migratus”
Barrell fermented, gold in color, cooked asparagus on the nose, very viscous for a white with cooked fruit on the finish, moderate to low acidity.
Macari Vineyards 150 Bergen Avenue, Mattituck
Winemaker: Kelly Urbanik Koch
And another family run winery, this one established in 1995 with a couple of tasting rooms on the North Fork wine trail.
2016 Cabernet Franc “Lifeforce”
This wine has been fermented in a concrete egg. It’s a lighter version than most Cabernet Francs you find on the Island, closer in style to what you would find in the Loire. Clear light red in color, roasted nuts on the nose, crisp red licorice fruit.
This past weekend of December 7-8th I was able to attend a couple of Holiday beverage events.
On Saturday afternoon I attended the Brooklyn Whiskey and Spirits Festival which was held at the Brooklyn Expo Center at 72 Noble Street in Greenpoint Brooklyn. The event offered over 100 styles of whiskey and spirits.
I have to admit, that these spirits events are more or less cookie cutter events with many of the same purveyors in attendance, I’m getting to recognize many of the people pouring (and they’re recognize me!). I have to say though that this event had a better selection of spirits than the last whiskey fest I attended a couple of weeks ago.
Most American whiskey producers make several styles of whiskey including Bourbon, Rye and Blends. At this tasting I decided to focus on Rye whiskey for the afternoon and was able to sample a few nice ones. As an outlier I tasted a few aged rums which I enjoy. I particularly enjoyed the X.O. and V.S.O.P. rhum agrigole from Clement Rhum in Martinique. Rhum agricole is made from fresh cane juice instead of from molasses and makes for a more polished drink, the type that you sip on its own.
On Sunday afternoon I attended the Fruit & Grain beer and cider festival. The event was a benefit for Raices, a nonprofit agency and was held at the Second event space at 849 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
The theme of the room was 1960’s “Flower Power” complete with the requisite groovy, psychedelic art poster. They poured mostly local craft beer from 30+ brewers, ciders from 12+ New York State cideries and a handful of spirits. My focus this afternoon was on ciders and they had some familiar labels as well as ciders from small, “mom & pop” cideries. An interesting outlier was a local distillery based in Brooklyn, St. Agrestis that makes amaros and a prepackaged Negroni.
Whiskey Fest Rye
Catoctin Creek Rye 80°, 92°
Pinhook Rye Humor Cask Strength 97°
Taconic Distillery Straight Rye 95°
Uncle Nearest 1856 100°
Deadwood Rye 83°
Minor Case Straight Rye 90°
Coppersea Straight Malt Rye 96°
Koval Single Barrel Rye 80°
Cutwater Whiskey American Rye 90°
Duke Founders Reserve Rye 98°
Sagamore Spirit Double Oaked Straight Rye 112°
Fruit & Grain Cider
Sündtrom Cider: Sauer, Sponti
Wildarc Farms: Blackbird, Kitchen Sink
Eve’s Cidery: Albee hill ’18, Darling Creek ’18, Beckhorn Hollow ’18
Bad Seed: Old Elmer Barrel Aged, Bourbon Barrel Aged
Metal House Cider: Ammir, Arista
Angry Orchard: Magril
Floral Torrantes: Suburban Maraines
Descendant Cider Co.: Succesion
Rootstock Cider Works: Dry, Original, Dry Hopped
Graft Cidery: Farm Flor, Forest & Flor, Amber City
Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) is a wine shop that, not surprisingly, specializes in Italian wines. It’s located at 108 East 16th Street across from Union Square Park in Manhattan.
Unusual for a wine store, they have a small room and a dedicated kitchen in the back of the shop that they use as a venue where they host wine dinners and wine tastings.
On the weekend after Thanksgiving Day they hosted their Black Friday mini grand tasting. On this Saturday afternoon, it was a casual walk-around tasting of 32 Italian wines. I’ve been to a few tastings at this venue and I know they pour quality juice. It was a mostly a red wine list with a couple of sparking wines, a rosé and a handful of whites thrown in. They poured a good representation of Italian wines from the North to the South of the boot.
As usual they put out a nice spread of food with good bread and an excellent selection of charcuterie. The kitchen cooked up a couple of tasty pasta dishes as well.
It’s a popular event and the crowd became a little thick at times but I was able to sample as many wines as I wanted, everyone was in a festive mood. My favorites of the afternoon were a couple of Nebbiolo based wines, the 2015 Luigi GiordanoBarbaresco Asili and the 2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia.
NV Cima da Conegliano Prosecco Extra Dry
2011 Castello Bonomi Franciacorta Brut Cru Perdu
2018 Cornarea Roero Arneis
2015 Drago Collio Friulano
2018 De Concilus Falanghia
2018 Masut da Rive Maurus Chardonnay
2015 Per Luna Cerasuolo
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero Vareij
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero 29.5 Per Alessandra Barbera d’Alba
2016 San Giuliano Barbera Fiore di Marcorino
2015 San Giuliano Barbaresco
2017 Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo
2013 Scarzello Barolo
2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili
2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia
2013 Gaja Costa Russi
2017 Masut da Rive Maurus Pinot Noir
2018 Per Linda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
2017 Schiena Vini Salento Enneoro Negroamaro
2017 Schiena Vini Impero Primitivo di Manduria
2017 De Conciliis Donnaluna Anglianico
2010 De Conciliis Naima
2017 Begali Valpolicella Classico
2012 Nicolis Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico
2008 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi
2014 La Corsa Settefinestre
2014 La Corsa Teroldego
2015 Trecciano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva
2017 Collemattoni Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Le Mortelle Botrosecco Maremma
2011 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino
2012 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Matter of Taste is a global series of fine wine tastings hosted by wine critic Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate journal. The 2019 tour took them to Napa, Taipei and Zurich with the final Grand Tasting in New York City on Saturday, November 23rd.
The event was held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, a 1920’s inspired Art Deco, movie palace themed event space located at 141 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan.
At the Grand Tasting over 250 international wines with scores of 93+ from the Wine Advocate were poured in addition to several Master classes.
Along with the Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience, the Matter of Taste Grand Tasting is one of the premier wine tasting events available to the consumer. There were an amazing amount of high end wines from around the world in the room to sample. As much as I would loved to have tried them all that’s just not possible so I did what I usually do in these situations and picked a category to focus on. Bordeaux and Burgundy were lightly represented so I directed my attention to Napa Valley Cabernet, specifically Cabernet from labels I wasn’t familiar with. Many of the wineries with the unfamiliar labels I sampled are extremely small production wineries, in most instances only a handful to a few hundred cases produced a year. There were so many Napa Valley wineries on hand that after several hours I did not get to all of them. It was an excellent tasting.
Some of what I sampled:
2016 Addax Cabernet Sauvignon “Tench Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Cloudy, dark red with a purple rim with dusty, chocolate fruit, nice balance.
2017 Alejandro Bulgeroni Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, violets and crushed black fruit on the nose, concentrated dusty dark fruit with a firm but long finish.
2017 Alejandro Bulgeroni Cabernet Sauvignon Lithology “Dr. Crane Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Opaque black, mineral and crushed black fruit on the nose, thick, chewy black fruit with a nice grip at the end.
2014 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark purple, fresh herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with big tannins at the end.
2016 B Cellers Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, roast nuts on the nose, juicy and tight with big tannins.
2016 Bevan Proprietary Red “Double E Tench Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, crushed red fruit and tobacco on the nose, tight with dusty tannis.
2016 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit and licorice on the nose, chunky, dusty with mint notes on the crisp tannins.
2016 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon “Darius II” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, dark chocolate on the nose with chewy and chunky black fruit.
2015 Gallica Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, dark chocolate on the nose with a dusty, dark chocolate finish on the firm tannins.
2015 Hertelendy Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, closed nose of dusty fruit with chewy, dark fruit, long finish.
2014 Hertelendy Signature Mountain Blend (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, closed nose of black cherry and oak, chewy red fruit with silky, lip smacking tannins at the end.
2016 Lail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “J. Daniels Cuvée” (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, dried herbs on the nose, tight and concentrated cigar box fruit, firm, silky finish.
2015 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Monte Rosso” (Sonoma) Dark red, purple rim, crushed red fruit and green herbs on the nose, juicy, dusty fruit with silky tannins at the end.
2016 Mathew Bruno Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford (Napa Valley) Dark purple, purple rim, dried leaf and black pepper on the nose with red cherry, tight fruit.
2016 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) Dark black in color, crushed black cherry on the nose with juicy black fruit and firm tannins.
2016 Mt. Brave Merlot Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) Dark purple, pickle juice on the nose, tight with big tannins.
2014 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt. (Napa Valley) Dark red to black with a purple rim, sour pickle on the nose, juicy with firm tannins.
2010 Shadowbox Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Cloudy dark brick, tar and graphite on the nose, chunky with dried leaf and leather fruit, nice balance.
2012 Signorello Estate Proprietary Red “Padrone” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red to black, crushed dusty red fruit on the nose, tight dark chocolate fruit with crisp acids.
2016 Signorello Estate Proprietary Red “Padrone” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, purple rim, toasty nose, concentrated with gun metal notes on the fruit.
2012 Sloan Estate Asterisk (Napa Valley) Decanted. Opaque dark red, brick rim, cooked fruit and black cherry on the nose, dusty black fruit, good balance and a long finish.
2015 Sloan Estate Proprietary Red (Napa Valley) Opaque black, brick rim, bell pepper and rosemary notes on the nose, chewy dark chocolate fruit, long finish.
2017 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, dusty forest floor notes on the nose, juicy, concentrated black fruit, firm finish.
2017 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, black plums on the nose, thick, juicy with dried herb notes on the fruit ending with lip smacking tannins.
2015 Vangone Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, black plum on the nose, chewy, concentrated fruit with dark leather notes, good balance.
2016 Vangone Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, toasty roast nuts on the nose, chunky, with a firm grip on the long finish.
2014 Vega Sicilia “Valbuena” (Castilla Leon) Dark red, biscotti notes on the nose, juicy red fruit with some earth on the moderate finish.
2009 Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Castilla Leon) Dark brick, fresh herbs on the nose, green herbs on the tight finish with big tannins.
2015 Penfolds “Grange” (Barossa) Opaque black, pretty perfume of earth and crushed black fruit, concentrated, tight fruit, dusty finish with a nice grip.
2006 Ducru Beaucaillou (St-Julien) Brick in color, plum and tar on the nose, very tight with dried leaf notes on the finish.
Inside Barbaresco: A Spotlight On Produttori del Barbaresco
I was able to attend this seminar of a vertical tasting of the wines from Produttori del Barbaresco. The Produtori is a cooperative of 50 members and small growers in the Barbaresco zone of Piedmont, Italy. It’s one of the better consortium and are know for making quality wines. They are also know for bottling wines from several of the Cru vineyards in Barbaresco so it’s possible to have a horizontal tasting of Barbaresco from different vineyards. On this day I wasn’t feeling it. It might be that I had spent an hour before the seminar drinking fruit forward California Cabernet but most of the wines I sampled here had thin fruit and high acids. The only one that was appreciable was the oldest wine, the 1982 Rabaja. Still, a vertical tasting is always exciting.
On November 16th I attended the New York Whisky Festival. This was one of the many spirit-centric festivals that are taking place around the New York area at this time of year.
The festival was held at The Tunnel at 269 11th Avenue on the West side of Manhattan. It’s a former indoor rail terminal that has been used as a nightclub, event venue and commercial space.
There are many such festivals held around this time of year and like most things some are better than others. Some of the festivals are geared toward the experienced drinker who are looking to experience some high end and esoteric spirits while other festivals are geared more to the novice drinkers that are looking for more of a party with some spirits thrown in. The latter tend to showcase 2nd tier or unknown labels for the spirits. This festival was more of the latter than the former. In my opinion, the most interesting whisky at the event were the single malt French whisky from Rozelieures, while solid stalwarts such as Taconic Distillery, Koval and Slaughter House were on hand to pour some quality spirits. I attended the afternoon session and the crowd on hand were enjoying themselves.
On Saturday afternoon, November 9th I attended the CiderFeast cider tasting festival which was one of the many cider-centric events held during the New York City Cider Week November 8-17.
The event was hosted by the folks at Food Karma Project and NYC based restauranteur, Jimmy Carbone which hold events throughout the year including the Pig Island BBQ fest in September.
The event which was held at Biba of Williamsburg, a waterfront pub/beer garden serving Polish and American food located at 110 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn.
The tasting showcased over 15 national and international cider producers with many from New York State. Also on hand were small bites including some very tasty “prosciutto” from Kentucky and live music by the JP Bowersock Band.
Hard Cider was once the primary alcoholic beverage and a staple of the early American diet in this country especially during the Colonial period in which according to Rebelseed.com, the early colonists drank about 35 gallons of cider a year. Prohibition brought that all to an end.
There has been a resurgence of cider making in the United States with sales in 2014 at $2 billion and New York State is the 2nd largest grower of apples in the United States with about a billion pounds grown a year. The 2013 Farm Cideries’ Law made it easier to obtain a cidery license and gave tax incentives to cideries that exclusively use New York State crops. This has helped fuel substantial growth in the local industry.
At the event the local hipsters were able to sample a mix of the mass produced ciders alongside small artisanal producers who experiment with different types of yeast, aging vessels, apples and so forth. Even the big time producers such as Angry Orchard have a division that make unusual (and unusually named) small production ciders.
Some of what I sampled:
Angry Orchid: Thick as Thieves, Super Natural, Extra Terrestrial
Wayside Cider:The Catskill, The Skinny, The Half Wild, The Wild Select
Descendant Cider Co.: Dry hopped
Abandoned Cider Co.: Classic, Hopped, Barrel Aged
Downeast Cider House:Original Blend, Winter Blend
Urban Farm Fermentory: Super Dry, Hopped, Blueberry