2017 Y. Rousseau Single Vineyard Tannat

This wine is not something you see coming out of California very often, a wine from the Tannat grape varietal. The grape is native to the French Basque region in the southwest part of the country and grown in Gascony in the Madiran AOC.

It’s been grown in California for over a hundred year used primarily as a blending grape to beef up wines. It’s gotten a foot hold in Paso Robles but this version is grown in the tiny Clarksburg AVA which is West of Napa Valley and about an hours drive North of Lodi.

Yannick Rousseau, a French native born in Gascony is the owner/winemaker.

2017 Y. Rousseau Tannat, Clarksburg, California

A blend of 90% Tannat and 10% Syrah. Opaque dark purple to black with crushed blueberries, menthol and sage on the nose, juicy black fruit finishing with dark citrus notes, mouth coating tannins and moderate acidity.

McCall Winery

McCall Wines 22600 Main Road, Cutchogue

McCall began producing wine in 2007. A couple of unique things about this winery are that they have 11 acres of Pinot Noir planted which is one of the biggest Pinot Noir vineyards on the East coast and that in addition to growing grapes, they also are a cattle ranch raising grass-fed Charolais cattle, which is an historic breed from France.

The tasting room is in a rustic former potato barn not too far from the huge wine turbine they have on property.

2016 Chardonnay “Reserve”

Dark gold in color with an aromatic nose of tropical fruits, big bodied with honey, melon, pineapple and mouth filling glycerin on the finish with some nice acidity at the end. Starting to show its age but still very drinkable in an old school California full bodied style.

2016 Cabernet Franc

Clear medium brick in color with an amber rim, black cherry and sweet spice on the nose with tar, leather and black fruit ending with some tart notes on the finish.

Clovis Point Winery

Clovis Point Winery 1935 Main Road, Jamesport

Clovis Point Winery is one of the 3rd tier wineries that were opened after the start of the new millennium with about 10 acres of vines planted

They’re an under the radar winery making some very nice wines and on a sunny weekday afternoon, I stopped in to their barn tasting room overlooking the vineyards and sampled of couple of those wines.

2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Medium gold with lime and melon on the nose, medium fruit with citrus, spice, grassy notes and nice acidity on the finish. Nicely balanced.

2016 Merlot: 85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Syrah, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot.

Opaque dark red with a purple rim, dusty plum, dark chocolate and black cherry on the nose, medium juicy fruit with dark chocolate notes on the finish, great balance with a long finish.

2016 Acacia Vineyards Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Now that the weather is warming up it’s almost Rosé season but in the meantime I’ll start with lighter bodied reds which often mean some Pinot Noir.

Acacia is a winery in the Carneros district of Sonoma county in California which bottle vineyard designated Pinot Noir.

2016 Acacia Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Clear medium to light red in color, warm black plum, tree bark and red cherry on the nose, red leather, black cherry and cola notes on the silky red fruit with a nicely balanced, long spicy finish. Really nice, enjoyable glass of wine.

Touring Long Island Wine Country

 

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With the lockdown edicts still in effect, travelling to Long Island wine country, not surprisingly, hasn’t been the same. Some tasting rooms are more restrictive than others and there is only so much hummus and potato chips I can eat in one day. So I enjoy driving around wine country and taking in the scenery and taking photos of interesting things. Last time out those interesting things were barns.  Instead of stopping at multiple wineries I just stopped at one on the way back to the LIE to have a glass for the road. 

 

 

Sherwood House Vineyards  1291 Main Road, Jamesport

One of the first wineries you run into travelling East on the main road, it’s connected to an antique shop with many of the shops artwork scattered around the grounds. The tasting room is very winter friendly with comfortable couches, a roaring fireplace and nice wine glasses. 

 

2016 Oregon Road Cabernet Franc

Made from estate grown grapes. Medium brick in color with black pepper on the nose, medium to light bodied with some tar notes, black pepper and licorice on the balanced finish. Nice glass of wine. 

2016 Oregon Road Red Blend

A blend of estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium brick in color, crushed red berries and anise on the nose, tight bright red fruit with a mouthful of tannin and a firm finish. I thought it was a little one dimensional. 

 

 

 

2016 Brancaia “Tre” Rosso Toscana

 

 

2016 Brancaia Rosso Toscana “Tre”

Juice from three of their Tuscan estates with 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Clear medium brick, complicated aromas of gun metal, tar, roast meat and sweet red fruit on the nose, starts out with dark fruit notes and ends with bitter cherry, dark chocolate and firm tannins at the finish. 

 

 

August Day At The Wineries

 

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Still the only game in town, drove out on this sunny, hot August afternoon to sit in the vineyards for a glass. 

 

Palmer Vineyards  5120 Sound Avenue, Riverhead

One of the original wineries on Long Island. Recently purchased and now owned by the Massoud family who own Paumanok Vineyards as well.

2018 Viognier: Medium yellow in color, honeysuckle on the nose, tight and crisp with green herbs and lemon on the finish. Not as lush as I was expecting for a Viognier. 

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Mattebella Vineyards  46005 Route 25, Southold

A small family farm whose motto is “wine, passion and craftmanship”

2017 Steel Chardonnay: 100% fermented in steel. Medium yellow in color, cooked fruit and green asparagus on the nose, moderate fruit, crisp finish with lime notes. Tasted like an older wine. 

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Sherwood House Vineyards  1291 Main Road, Jamesport

A comfortable tasting room with an adjacent art gallery, one of the few tasting rooms serving wine in a respectable glass.

2017 Oregon Road Chardonnay: Steel Fermented. Light yellow in color, sweet tangerine and pear notes on the nose, dusty, firm fruit with nice mouth watering acidity.

 

 

June Tasting Out East

 

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At the end of June I took another drive out East to the wineries on the North Fork. Seems like this is the only game in town for social drinking. Sampled a diverse range of varietals this time around. Still not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon.

 

 

Lieb Cellars 13050 Oregon Rd, Cutchogue

Off the main road, Lieb Cellars is run “by a close knit group of young passionate individuals”.

2018 Sauvignon Blanc: Light yellow with a greenish tint, closed nose of green apples, clean and crisp with green apple notes.

 

Bedell Cellars 36225 Main Road, Cutchogue

The Bedell’s planted their first grapevines here in 1980

2019 Pinot Gris: This is the first vintage of this varietal produced at the winery. Clear light yellow with greenish tints, kiwi, tangerine on the nose, juice lemon/line notes on the fruit with crisp acidity.

 

Croteaux Vineyards 1450 S Harbor Road, Southold

This winery off the main road produces exclusively estate grown Rosé against the backdrop of two historic farms. 

2019 Rosé Merlot “181”: Stainless steel fermented, light copper in color, cantaloupe on the nose, minerally fruit with nice acidity. 

 

Pulgliese Vineyards 34515 Main Rd, Cutchogue

Established in 1980 and is family owned and operated, they make down to earth wines. The only winery that I know of on the North Fork that bottles a Sangiovese.

2015 Sangiovese: Clear light red in color, red cherry and green herbs on the nose, red cherry with a touch of leather on the fruit with good acidity. 

 

 

Open At Last

 

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Finally, in mid June the government eased up on the restrictions placed on business and permitted the North Fork wineries to serve wines to the public in an outdoor setting. It’s a start. I took a drive out East to sit down among the vineyards to drink the first glass of wine I’ve had in public in several weeks.

 

Lenz Winery 38355 Rte 25, Peconic

One of the founding wineries on the North Fork, they pour a dependable glass of wine. 

2014 Sauvignon Blanc: They tell me this is the first vintage of this varietal for this long time winery.

Straw yellow in color, white flowers on the nose, crisp with subtle grassy and honeydew notes on the fruit. Nicely balanced, great first time effort. 

 

McCall Wines  22600 Main Road, Cutchogue

A working cattle ranch as well as a winery, there’s always a family member in the tasting room. 

2019 “Nicola” Sauvignon Blanc: Nicola is the name of the daughter of the owners who served me the wine this day. 

Light yellow in color, kiwi and honeydew melon on the nose, full fruit with lime notes on the fruit with moderate to low acids. 

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate” One of three Pinot Noir they were pouring on this day. Opaque dark brick in color, tarry, red cherry and smoky pepper on the nose with red licorice, new leather and earth on the fruit with good acid on the finish. Nice balance. 

 

 

Last Tasting On Long Island Before The Lockdown

 

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We’re three months into the lockdown which meant no wine tasting, food or cocktail events to attend.


In the third week in March I was able to attend a couple of events before the shutdown and one afternoon I drove out to the North Fork to visit the wineries. At that time about half of them had shut down their tasting rooms in anticipation of the lockdown. The ones that remained open did a roaring business as people came out in droves for a last glass of wine. I had no agenda and just drank random wines.

 

 

Lenz Vineyards 38355 Route 25, Peconic

Lenz Vineyard was established in 1978 making it one of the original wineries to open on the North Fork of Long Island.

They produce a wide range of wines from whites, reds, sparkling and dessert wines. They are best known for their Merlot.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate”: Thick black in color with a purple rim, crushed black fruit, roasted nuts and some stinkiness on the nose, dusty fruit with shaved metal and black licorice notes on the fruit with firm, sour cherry tannins on the finish. 

 

Coffee Pot Cellars 31855 Main Road, Cutchogue

They are a small production winery that pours their products at this tasting room on the side of the main road. They are also beekeepers and sell local fruit jams and honey. They are famous for their house dog, Beasley the Wonder Pug. He’s getting on in years and wasn’t his usual spry self when I stopped in. 

2014 Meritage Red: A blend of about half Merlot with Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon added in.  Thick dark red in color with a purple rim, blue metal  and scorched black fruit notes on the nose, dusty, chewy black fruit with some oak flavors, chewy tannins.

 

Jamesport Vineyards 1216 Main Road, Jamesport

Established in 1986 making it one of the oldest wineries on the North Fork, their tasting room is in a 165 year old barn. They serve food as well. On this day the tasting room was mobbed since half the tasting rooms on the wine trail were closed this day. 

2016 Syrah “East End“: This is a single vineyard wine with 40% whole cluster fermentation. Thick black in color with a purple rim, smoked, crushed black fruit on the nose, thick and juicy with sour black cherry notes on the firm and juicy finish, good grip.