Sannino Bella Vita September 22, 2012

This is our first side-by-side pairing, of two chardonnays.

After a good two-hour bike ride and before a visit to Greenport to see the Maritime Festival and the Peconic Plein-Air art exhibit, we stop at Sannino Bella Vita winery, formerly Ackerly Pond, on Peconic Lane.  This is a small winery on a side street, so, though there are plenty of people here, it is not the madhouse some of the bigger wineries on the main road can be, especially in the fall.  Live music is quietly provided by a flautist and a guitar player, and one of the guests outside on the little patio is swaying to the music.

Mr. Sannino is also a contractor, as well as a wine-maker, and he bought out Ackerly Ponds and combined their wines with his own, so you can taste both styles side by side if you like.

The full tasting, which includes all 9 wines, is $15.  You can also opt for a half tasting for $8 or a premium tasting of three special wines for $8.  We go for one full tasting, which we will share.  (There’s also a pitcher of sangria on offer, for $3 per glass, and a cheese tray for $15.)  The servers use a spout, so the pour is a carefully calibrated one ounce.

1) 06 Ackerley Pond Riesling          $18.99

This is a very tart riesling, with tastes of lime and green apple and a thin mouth feel.  This would probably be better with food, and actually might be fun to cook with, like with a fish in a wine and cream sauce dish.  Tasting it blind, one would probably not guess it was a riesling.

Our lovely server asks if we would like to taste the next two chardonnays side by side, as one is an Ackerly Pond (AP) and the other a Bella Vita (BV).  We say yes, and she fetches a second glass, and we note that the glasses are etched with the name of each vineyard, so we can keep track of which is which.  Nice touch.

2) 09Bella Vita Chardonnay           $20

Steel fermented and light, this chard has lots of citrus flavor, but is just okay.

3)  06 AP Chardonnay           $14.99

In contrast, the AP chard spent several months in oak, and the vanilla flavor of oak is there, but not very strongly, as well as citrus, but not a lot of depth.  There’s also a faintly metallic aroma.

Here comes another pairing!

4)  2011 BV Merlot Bianca          $20

This is a white wine made from the merlot grape, as the name suggests, given no contact with the skins.  Interesting tang.  The aroma is of slightly over-ripe fruit, though not in an unpleasant way, and the taste reminds us of an unripe peach.

5)  2010 BV Snow Merlot           $15

Basically a rose, this is a light, not complex, but pleasantly interesting wine, with side of the tongue sweetness and some strawberry flavor.

And a third pairing…

6) 04 AP Merlot          $19.99

This is our favorite so far, a dry red with a lovely chocolate aroma, and lots of plum and berry taste, with a faint mintiness and none of that earthy terroir of the North Fork.

7) 2010 BV Merlot          $30

Aged for a year in oak, this wine has a faint red candy aroma and nice plum flavors.  Again, no dirt!  This is also good, but a bit pricey for the quality.

8)  06 AP Cabernet Sauvignon           $27.99

We detect an aroma of oak.  Another fairly un-complex wine, with a thin mouth feel.

9)  2010 BV Spiced Wine           $13

Served warm!  We decide this spiced wine, made with cabernet sauvignon and other wines and flavored with cinnamon and similar spices, would be very nice on a cold winter’s night, especially if one were in a hot tub.  It reminds us of the Swedish drink Glogg (Imagine an umlaut over the o.).  The server notes that it would also be good if one added orange slices and cranberries to the glass.  Yes, it would.

Though we don’t buy any bottles, if we did need more red we’d buy the 04 AP Merlot.

Reasons to visit:  Intimate setting, ability to meet the owner (who has been there each of the three times we’ve visited), the ability to make interesting comparisons between two different styles of wine-making.  They also run a wine club in which one can make one’s own wine from their grapes.

Lenz Addendum: Orient Point Restaurant and Marina

On a breezy, warm, flag snapping, wave slapping Saturday over Labor Day Weekend, we decided the weather was perfect for eating outside, and ventured to make the trek to Orient Point–a good half hour or more from Mattituck. Why this is in my wine blog is because of the wine we ordered.  Having just been to Lenz, where we liked the Chardonnay, we were pleased when we saw it on the menu of the Orient Point Restaurant.  We were sitting outside, on picnic-style benches, enjoying the lovely evening breezes, watching the gulls wheeling over the docks and boats coming and going.  We also enjoyed making the acquaintance of the “deck dog,” who very politely watched us as we ate the worth-the-trip pulled pork nachos, then lost interest until our main courses arrived.  My husband had the Frutti di Mare, the usual selection of seafood over pasta, and I had the Orient Point Fisherman’s Catch Broiled (I could also have had it fried.).  Both pretty good, though not great.  I had beautifully cooked scallops and flounder (could be local), just okay shrimp and unfortunate baked clams that might have come from a freezer.  However, the star of my dish was the garlic mashed potatoes–clearly homemade from red potatoes, with bits of skin and a lovely texture.  We also liked the zucchini bread in the bread basket.

Oh, and the wine…So when we tasted the 2008 Lenz Chardonnay, we liked it, but it did not taste the same as the wine we’d had at the vineyard.  An examination of the bottle revealed why, with the words “Restaurant Selection.”  So go ahead and order it, as it has nice tastes of citrus and star fruit, but don’t expect the same wine as at the winery.

One Woman Winery September 2, 2012

The Gruner Veltliner!

On the way home from a boat ride with our son and two of his friends, we stop at One Woman Wines and Vineyard for a tasting.  The tiny tasting shack seems crowded at first, but the three lovely young women behind the counter–including Claudia Purita’s (the one woman behind One Woman) daughter Gabrielle–soon sort everyone out, and we all embark on tastings.  There are seven wines on the list, and one can have two for $6, three for $8, or four for $10.  We decide to share a three and a four, and thus taste all seven.  Our son and his friends each opt for tastings of four.  The pour is generous, and we all are feeling good after boating and swimming and enjoying this last summer weekend.  As we sip and ponder, we also enjoy the lovely wildflower arrangements in the shack–also by Claudia!  Several parties have taken their tastings to the outside tables, and a small group seems to be having their own impromptu jam session.  We decide to start with a comparative tasting of their three chardonnays.

1) 08 Chardonnay          $20

This is a pleasant chardonnay, with flavors of pear and vanilla, with a nice fruity aroma and a long finish.  Definitely buyable.

2) 07 Chardonnay         $20

Surprisingly, this has that barnyard aroma we usually find in Long Island merlots.  Fortunately, it tastes better than it smells,with lots of vanilla and some sweetness.  Nice legs.

3) 08 Estate Reserve Chardonnay     $40

This spends 8 months in French oak, and has an orange blossom aroma with again plenty of vanilla and a taste somewhat like caramel candy.Though it is mellow, my husband feels it is too oaked for him, though I like it.

Now we move on to the rest of their wines.

4) 2010 Gewurztraminer          $20

Lovely honeysuckle/floral aroma and flowery/sweet taste make this a nice sipping wine, though not to my taste particularly.

5) 2010 Sauvignon Blanc          $ $24

Their tasting notes say flavors of lemon grass and green apple, and I have to agree.  Though they say it is a Sancerre style, we’re not so sure. However, we do agree that it is a very good wine that would pair well with local oysters.

6) 2010 Gruner Veltliner          $26

Wow–the star of the day!  I don’t know if any other wineries are trying this grape, but it is certainly rare.  It is light and tart, but with plenty of fruit flavors, mostly grapefruit.  Crisp. Good.  We all buy bottles of it!  Nice bonus–on this day, there is a special offer of a free tasting if one pays cash for a bottle of wine, which we do.  We also knew we’d like the gruner since we had tried it at Biere, Claudia’s husband’s restaurant in Greenport, which in its current iteration features Belgian-style fare including excellent mussels and frites, a delicious cheese tray, and interesting beers on tap.

7)  08 Merlot          $28

This is One Woman’s only red, and it is a good standard L.I. merlot, with blackberry flavors and aromas, but not in the same league as her whites, which are really good.

As we get ready to leave, Gabrielle says they are about to release two new wines, and we promise to be back.

Reasons to visit:  Pretty rustic location a bit off the beaten track; nice whites, especially the Gruner Veltliner.