Pellegrini Vineyard

June 16, 2012

We belong to Pellegrini’s wine club (a story I will tell some time), so we are here to pick up our latest shipment.  It is a beautiful warm, sunny day.  Judy, the diminutive doyenne of the tasting room, remembers us and that we prefer their reds. Pellegrini seems to strike a good balance between being a venue for limo crowds and a place for serious tasters, with a nice-sized tasting room with a few tables and chairs, plus a bar, and lots of outdoor space both under the pergola and out on the lawn.  One time when we stopped here with friends and their little boys, the boys played happily on the lawn while we brought our flights to a table where we could watch them.  As wine club members, our tastings are free, but we opt for just 4 tastes to check out the new vintages, with a bit of guidance from Judy, who is always very well-informed and passionate about the wines.  (They have different levels of tastings, including three one-ounce pours for $4.)

1)      2009 Select Chardonnay $14.99

This is an 85% steel, 15% oak aged blend, a pleasant combination which avoids the hazards of over-oaking while still picking up that slight vanilla/woodsy aroma from the oak.  The aroma has notes of mineral and vegetables as well as oak.  This is not a sipping wine, with a tart sour-apple taste, but it would be good with, for example, seafood in a cream sauce.

2)      2010 Gewürztraminer    $19.99

This is not our favorite gewurtz—too sweet, always a hazard with this grape.  The aroma reminds me of the water in a flower vase when you have left the flowers in too long.

3)      2008 Steakhouse Red  $16.99

This is a blend of 71% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, and 3% cabernet franc.  Though this is called Steakhouse, we feel it is too light to stand up to steak, though it would be fine with pork or lamb chops, as it has enough acidity to complement these meats.  The aroma combines blackberry and wood, as does the taste.

4)      2007 Vintner’s Pride Encore      $39.99

Another blend—47% merlot, 32% cab franc, 13% cab sauv, 8% petit verdot—or in other words, a Bordeaux.  The aroma is not assertive, but has some berry in it.  The flavor is delicious, with lots of ripe berry, but not too sweet.  If we wanted to add a somewhat pricey red to our cellar, we would have bought it, but we don’t need any right now.  I bet it will age very nicely.

Reasons to visit:  really good all-around winery that strikes a balance between big and small; good wines, especially the reds (rare for Long Island); good servers; pretty setting.

Shinn Vineyard

June 30, 2012

I really want to like Shinn’s wines as much as I like the atmosphere of the tasting room and their philosophy. They believe in “sustainable farming practices,” and try to do as much by hand as possible.  They are also off the main roads, on an appealing country lane, and their tasting room is rustic—and often inhabited by a friendly dog. I’ve never encountered a limo group there, though on this warm sunny day it is crowded, with a large party out in the wine cellar area.  However, there is room at the bar for us to stand and do a tasting.  They have about 11 wines available, charged per taste, with 3 costing $8.  We opt to share two flights of 3, 3 whites and then 3 reds.

1)       2011 Sauvignon Blanc, $22

The aroma is like slightly overripe fruit.  The taste is a bit pear-y, with a fair amount of fruit and a tart aftertaste, but too sweet for me.  Very cold, it could be nice for sipping.

2)      2010 Chardonnay $19

Again, that slightly overripe fruit aroma, and this one has tastes of over-ripe pineapple, and maybe mango.  It is steel-fermented, which tends to bring out the fruit, but again, this is a bit too sweet for my taste, though others may like it.

3)      2011 Coalescence  $16

As implied by the name, this is a blend, of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and gewürztraminer.  The knowledgeable and friendly server tells us that this is a field pressed wine—in other words, the grapes are pressed together, rather than blending the wines after pressing.  This has a pleasantly flowery aroma—maybe a bit of honeysuckle.  Finally, a white that’s not too sweet!  This has a pleasant citrusy taste, reminiscent of blood oranges (which I’ve had a soft spot for ever since I was in Rome with a terrible cold and ate an entire bag of them).  There’s a slight tingle at the end.  We buy 2 bottles to take home.

4)      09 Estate Merlot $26

Now we start the reds.  The aroma is of berry and dirt (they probably say mineral), the typical smell of the North Fork terroir.  We taste cherry and tobacco (a little), and some mineral.  Good and nicely dry, so the fruit is there but not obtrusive.

5)      Wild Boar Doe $31

Love the name!  This is—duh—a typical Bordeaux blend of merlot, petit verdot, malbec, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon.  If it weren’t $31, we would have bought it.  The aroma is lovely, with lots of cherry/berry, and the flavor also has plenty of fruit, with a nice balance of sweet and dry—not too much of either.

6)      2008 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot $42

They only made nine barrels of this, hence the name.  This is another we would buy if not for the price.  The aroma is ripe black cherry—just delicious.  The flavor is totally mouth-filling, with again a nice balance and depth of fruit (cherry/blackberry) flavor.

Reasons to visit:  off the beaten track on a pretty country road (take me home…); the vineyard uses good organic practices; ’11 Coalescence for a white and ’08 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot for a red; they have a bed and breakfast which gets good reviews.

I’m No Oenophile

I’m no oenophile, nor am I a wino.  I just really like wine.

When my husband and I bought a second (future retirement) home on the North Fork, we quickly discovered the abundance of wineries.  After several weekends, we realized if we didn’t keep a record we would never remember where we had been or what we had liked.  That so many winery names begin with P is also not helpful.  Was that chardonnay we liked at Paumanok, Peconic, or Pellegrini?  Or maybe Pugliese or Palmer?  Perchance Pindar?  Hence the birth of the notebook.  Or as we call it, THE BOOK.   Since July of 2007, we’ve visited every winery, many of them multiple times—after all, every year there are new vintages—and I’ve kept a record.  What we had, what we liked or did not like, the look and atmosphere of the tasting room.

Now people ask me, “What winery should I go to? Which wine should I buy?”  Not easy questions to answer.  I have to find out, do you want to go with a big group in a limo to a place with a party atmosphere, or do you want to go with a few friends to a small winery where you can chat with the owner and learn about vintages and terroir?  Are you hoping to buy a bunch of “wine country” souvenirs?  Do you hope to sit outside, relax, and sip a glass of wine in relative peace and quiet?   Are you mostly interested in live music?  As to taste…well, I can tell you what the wines taste like, and you can decide whether or not that sounds good.

My notebook has now been transformed into a blog, so others can profit from my arduous research. Each entry includes a description of the tasting room, a listing of the wines I tasted with notes on each, including prices, and, at the end, a summary entitled “reasons to visit,” including which wines I thought were most buyable or which I liked the most.  I’d be glad for suggestions as to improvements!