Pinot Blanc On Long Island

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Pinot Blanc is a white grape that is a genetic cousin to Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir and has similar characteristics to Chardonnay. It’s a major grape in places like Alsace, France and Friuli, Italy but not widely grown on the North Fork of Long Island. Only a handful of wineries bottle a Pinot Blanc.  On a sunny Saturday afternoon I took a drive out to sample a few.


Lieb Cellars  13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue

Winery established in 1992 with small production, all estate wines.

2016 Pinot Blanc “Reserve”. Their signature wine from some of the oldest vines on the North Fork (circa 1983). 100% fermented in stainless steel with zero percent residual sugar. Medium yellow with white flowers and lemon custard on the nose, crisp and steely with lime notes on the finish


Shinn Estate Vineyards  2000 Oregon Road, Mattituck

A certified sustainable winery with a Bed & Breakfast, new owners took over in 2017 and recently renovated the tasting room including an impressive barrel room tasting area.

2016 Pinot Blanc. Hand harvested and fermented in oak for six months in puncheon barrels, this wine is stylistically 180° from the Lieb Pinot Blanc. Medium to dark gold in color with very ripe peaches and oak on the nose, ripe fruit with cooked notes on the finish,  not nearly as fresh as the Lieb. 96 cases.


Palmer Vineyards  108 Sound Avenue, Aquabogue

One of the original wineries on the North Fork established in 1983 with 90 acres planted and one of the few if only winery on Long Island to bottle an Albariño.

2017 Pinot Blanc. Medium to light yellow in color with a greenish tint, pineapple and ripe flowers on the nose, crisp with green herb notes on the finish. 124 cases.




Petit Verdot On Long Island

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Petit Verdot is one of the classic varieties used in blending in Bordeaux. It’s an early ripening varietal and its dense fruit, dark color and high tannins mean “a little goes a long way” when used in the blend.

It’s grown on Long Island in small amounts used primarily as a blending grape as well but a few wineries bottle it on its own and when you go to the tasting room, it’s usually the most expensive wine by the glass option.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon I drove out to wine country to sample a few.


Sannino Bella Vita Vineyards  7490 Alvans Lane, Cutchogue

This winery practices sustainable viticulture and has a Bed & Breakfast on property

2014 Petit Verdot “Spotlight”. Black in color with a purple rim, crushed raspberry on the nose with slate and crushed rock notes on the tight and tart finish, moderate tannins.

2013 Petit Verdot “Spotlight”. Inky black with a purple rim, mint and cooked fruit on the nose, chewy dusty dark chocolate on the fruit with nice acidity. More fruit forward than the ’14.


Pellegrini Vineyards  23005 Main Road, Cutchogue

This winery was founded in 1991 and features a two-story oak beamed tasting room.

2012 Petit Verdot “Estate”. Black with a purple rim, slate and crushed black fruit on the nose, crushed red berries and some smoke on the fruit, moderate tannins and low acid with lavender notes on the finish.


Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards  44075 Main Road, Peconic

The first vines at this vineyard were planted in 1983, this was the most crowded tasting room the day I visited.

2013 Petit Verdot “Reserve”. Inky black, corked?, closed nose with smoky, dense fruit with moderate acids. Corked notes blew off after a few minutes in the glass.



More Red Blends On Long Island

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Long Island wine country is about a hundred miles East of Manhattan. From my neighborhood it’s an easy drive on the Long Island expressway straight East as the crow flies to the end of the highway at exit 73. Make a quick right at the outlet mall and keep driving East until you come across the wineries. The road splits in two, main road (route 25) and sound avenue with wineries lining both roads.

On an overcast Sunday afternoon I took another drive out and sampled red blends.


Peconic Cellar Door  2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic

This tasting room shares the same building at the Winemakers Studio, they pour wines from wineries that don’t have their own tasting rooms.

2014 As If Wines “Persistence”. This is the first time I’ve tried wines from this producer, they buy local grapes and vinify at a local crush.

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, very dark purple with a purple rim, dark chocolate and sour cherry notes on the nose, tight, bright fruit with crisp acidity and some stemmines on the finish.



Mattebella Vineyards  46005 Main Road, Southhold.

The is a small, mom and pop vineyard operation using sustainable viticultural practices for their Italian heritage influenced wines with a small, cozy tasting room.

2008 “Old World Blend”. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the owners was pouring and highly recommended that I try this wine because the wine has aged well and at its peak now. Dark red to black in color with crushed dark fruit and some mint on the nose, chewy dusty fruit and silky tannins, roast nuts and violets on the finish. If I would have tasted this wine blind I would have guessed Chianti.



Lenz Vineyards  38355 Main Road, Peconic

One of the original wineries out east, established in 1978.

2014 Merlot “Estate”. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Black and thick in color, peppermint and crushed rocks on the nose, tight, plummy fruit with tart, firm acids at the end.  



Roanoke Vineyards Tasting Room, Love Lane, Mattituck.

Long Island’s only membership based vineyard, their tasting room is on Love Lane, a two block long business district with a nice deli across the street and a cheese shop next door.

2015 “Marco Tulio“. About an equal blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, dark red, damp earth and slate on the nose, chewy dark fruit, balance acidity with chocolate notes on the finish.



More Rosé On Long Island

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We’re now at the dog days of Summer which in New York City usually means hot sweltering days and muggy nights reminding me of some the lyrics from the 1966 Loving Spoonful song “Summer in the City” about the back of me head getting dirty and gritty.

But not this Summer. It has been unusually mild and comfortable with Spring like temperatures and low humidity. It still is rosé season though and I drove out East to try some more.


Winemaker Studio  2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic

The Studio is a 100 year old general store owned by winemaker Anthony Nappa as a cooperative tasting room to showcase and taste his wines as well as the wines of Vineyards that don’t have their own tasting rooms. Since I was there last the deli next door was converted into another tasting room.

2016 Saltbird “Roseate”

This is the first wine I’ve tried from this producer. Made from a Syrah and Cabernet Franc blend, medium pink, crushed strawberry on the nose, light fruit, low acid, a little neutral but easy drinking.



Kontokosta Winery  825 North Road, Greenport

This winery is a fairly new one on the east end wine scene with the North Fork’s “first and only waterfront winery and tasting room”. About as far East as you can get on the north fork of the island near the town of Greenport. It’s a huge if a little sterile, property with views of the Long Island sound.

2016 Rosé

A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Light copper in color, honeydew on the nose with green herbs on the fruit, low acids.



Laurel Lake Vineyards  3165 Main Road, Laurel

A small vineyard owned by Chilean and American vintners.

2016 “Lake Rosé”

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Pale pink in color, cantaloupe on the nose, juicy melon notes on the fruit, moderate acidity.



Paumonok Vineyards  1074 Main Road, Aquebogue

One of the original wineries founded in 1983

2016 Rosé

A Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend. Rust in color with asparagus notes on the nose with crisp cherry notes on the fruit.



2013 Merlot On Long Island


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Merlot is the most widely planted grape varietal on Long Island with about 700 acres planted representing 30% of the total. It’s an early ripening varietal that does well in cooler climates which is great for the maritime climate of the North Fork of Long Island where hurricanes might blow through during the harvest.

It has its own association, the Long Island Merlot Alliance whose mission is “to educate media and consumers as to the quality of Merlot and Merlot based blends in Long Island. At their website you can learn the history of Merlot including about the first vines planted on Long Island in 1974 at Hargrave Winery and Mudd’s Vineyard.

The 2013 vintage was called a “fantastic” vintage with a hot Summer and a long, dry Autumn which meant a later harvest of very ripe grapes.



2013 Waters Crest Winery Merlot “Grand Vin”.  28735 Main Road, Cutchogue

Jim Waters does not own vineyards but makes his wines from locally purchased grapes. Up until recently, the tasting room was in a strip mall but has recently opened a comfortable tasting room on the main road.

The wine was aged for 24 months in new French oak, very dark red in color, opaque, black cherry, strawberry and slate on the nose, juicy, concentrated crushed black fruit with bright silky tannin at the end.


2013 Pelligrini Vineyards Merlot “Estate”.  23005 Main Road, Cutchogue

The two story tasting room was built in 1991 overlooking a courtyard with an Italian cloister design.

The wine spent 24 months in oak, black in color, crushed black fruit, cooked vegetable and toast on the nose, concentrated and tight with slate and smoke notes on the fruit, ending with tight tannins and crisp acids.


2013 Paumanok Vineyards Merlot “Grand Vintage”.  1074 Main Road, Aquebogue

Paumanok is a 127 acre estate winery founded in 1983 with the tasting room in a turn of the century barn.

Aged two months longer than their regular Merlot, dark purple with a purple rim, dark chocolate and black cherry on the nose, tight, bright cherry fruit with crisp acids and tannins on the finish.



Gewürztraminer On Long Island


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Gewürztraminer is one of the classic noble grapes and is known for its distinctive aromatic and pungent aromas of lychee, pineapple, ginger and rose petals to name a few.

It has a limited popularity and its difficulty in production keeps it with limited acreage but it’s been grown out on Long Island since the industry began and most wineries bottle of version of it either dry, off-dry or as a dessert wine. I still have a half bottle of a 1993 late harvest Gewürztraminer in my fridge from Palmer Vineyards that I bought in 1995.

This past rainy and sleety Sunday afternoon I took a drive out to the North Fork wine country to try some.


2015 One Women Vineyards: 5195 Old North Road, Southold. 

Small tasting room off of Highway 48 on the far Eastern North Fork before the town of Greenport.

About 250 cases produced, greenish tint, lemon-lime, earth notes on the nose, off-dry with cotton candy and kiwi on the fruit. Good balance, moderate acidity.


2012 Lenz Winery: 38355 Route 25, Peconic.

One of the original wineries on the North Fork known for its Merlots.

About 400 cases produced, steel fermented, dark yellow in color, closed nose of petroleum, bone dry with lychee and lime notes on the fruit, moderate acidity on the moderate to long, spicy finish.


2013 Coffee Pot Cellars: 31855 Main Road, Cutchogue.

Small production winery with a tasting room off the main road offering handcrafted beeswax products as well as their wines. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by Beasley the Pug.1

174 cases made, about 6% Riesling added, dark gold in color, petroleum and white flowers on the nose, crisp, full spicy fruit with good acidity on the moderate to long finish.



Pinot Noir On Long Island

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Of all the classic grape varieties, Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult to grow. There was never much hope that Pinot Noir would be the stand out varietal out on the East end but that hasn’t stopped winemakers from trying. Several wineries on the North Fork bottle Pinot Noir and on this sunny Sunday afternoon I tried a few.


2014 Martha Clara Vineyard Pinot Noir  6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead.

Medium to dark red in the glass, sweet cherry on the nose, crisp acids up front with red cherry and smoke notes on the light fruit.


2013 McCall Winery Pinot Noir “HIllside”  22600 Main Road, Cutchogue.

A real working farm as the earthy scent in the air attests to, the tasting room is in an old potato barn. This wine is the middle of a trio of Pinot Noir they pour, medium red, black cherry and tobacco on the nose with tight, smokey black cherry on the fruit ending with some tartness.


2012 Castello di Borghese Vineyard Pinot Noir “Estate”  17150 County Road 48, Cutchogue.

This is the site of the first vineyard (Hargrave) on Long Island in 1973. Medium red, sour cherry on the nose with sour red fruit and some earth on the fruit with some tartness at the end.


My pet peeve again.

I don’t mind when the tasting rooms charge wine bar prices for a glass of wine, after all they have a business to run, but I feel that their wines would be better showcased and the wine drinker have a better wine drinking experience if they served their wines in proper glasses instead of the thimble-sized glasses that many of the tasting rooms on the North Fork do.



Red Blends On Long Island


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Last Sunday was a miserable, rainy afternoon. Why not a drive to wine country? This time around I met a few friends out there to help me sample the local wines.

I had planned on having Sauvignon Blanc tasting but circumstances dictated that I modify my plans. I ended drinking red blends. We stopped at three wine tasting rooms this afternoon.

The first stop of the day was at the Winemakers Studio by Anthony Nappa Wines at 2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic on the north fork of Long Island. It’s a cooperative tasting room featuring the wines of Anthony Nappa and some local wineries that don’t have a tasting room.

2014 Anthony Nappa “Ripasso”. This is the first wine made in this style that I have seen made in Long Island Normally it’s done with Valpolicela in Italy. Ripasso which means repassed in Italian, is when Valpolicela is made using the left over pomace from the fermentation of grapes used to make Amarone. Is usually adds some body and complexity to the wine. In this case Merlot was repassed over the leftover skins of Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes.

Dark red to black with a purple robe, dark chocolate and black cherry on the nose, concentrated, mint notes, tight and dusty with some astringency on the finish. Interesting wine.


2010 Osprey’s Dominion Meritage “Flight”. 44075 Main Road, Peconic. Whereas the Winemakers Studio was a sedate drinking experience, this large tasting room was mobbed with plenty of people out enjoying the holiday weekend.

A blend of Merlot, Carmenere and Cabernet Franc. It was nice to try a red with some bottle aging, black in color, crushed blueberries on the nose, chewy fruit with some bell pepper notes, dark chocolate and bell pepper on the moderate finish. Tasty.


2010 Pugliese Vineyards Meritage “Sunset”. 34515 Main Road, Cutchogue. Established in 1980 which makes it one of the founding fathers of the wine industry out East, family owned and operated.

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Black in color, closed nose of dark chocolate, chewy and chunky with licorice and coffee notes on the balanced finish. A fine effort.



Harvest East End 2016


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This past Saturday, August 20th I attended the 7th annual Dan’s Harvest East End food and wine event. It is the last of the trifecta of foodie events held on Long Island presented by Dan’s Paper and the Long Island Wine Council.

The event showcased North Fork Long Island wine and food with local wineries and restaurants in attendance.  It was hosted by Iron Chef’s cookbook author and restaurateur, Geoffrey Zakaria and featuring emcee Joshua Wesson, Sommelier and founder of Best Cellars.

The event was held in Cutchogue on the North Fork of Long Island under the big tents at the McCall vineyard and ranch.

All of the local North Fork wineries were at the event pouring their wines along with several beer and spirit vendors. A trend that I noticed this year was that many of the wineries released a Viognier, some of which where better than others

It seemed to me that they cut back on resources than in the previous years, no live music and much less food stalls.