This weekend we went to what we call the “Irish” winery—not because it is Irish, but because a friend, hearing the name but not seeing it, thought it was McCary! In fact, so Italian (not Irish) are they that the Macari family has given several of their wines Italian names, including Collina, for the hills on which their vineyard is located, and Sette, for Settefrati, the town in Italy from which their family emigrated.
Macari has two tasting rooms, a commodious building just off Sound Avenue and another, formerly the Gallucio Family Winery, on Main Road in Cutchogue. We’ve been to both, but this time we went to the one on Main Road. As you enter, you see the road forks both up the hill and down. Both ways lead to parking lots, so you can pick either way, but the uphill one enables you to drop off passengers at the door. Both rooms have outdoor areas far enough from the road to feel pleasantly rustic.
We had an irrational prejudice against Macari because early in our winery-visiting days we walked in right behind a group of bachelorettes who stumbled out of their limo, beer cans in hand, plastic flowers in their hair, and proceeded to be quite raucous. Not Macari’s fault!
The Main Road tasting room is a pleasant space, with a curving copper-topped bar and a nice selection of gift items, including hand painted wine glasses and tea towels with the word Wineaux on them. A white flight of four tastes is $8 and a red flight is $12. They also offer artisanal cheeses and salumi for $7-10.00, including crackers. The servers are pleasant and well-informed, though it is a bit disconcerting to hear the same spiel delivered word for word to your neighbors at the bar. By the way, if you want to go you should go soon, as they are celebrating their 15th anniversary with a very nice sale on many of their wines.
We opted to do one tasting of whites and one of reds, sharing as we went.
- 2012 Sauvignon Blanc $23
This bears the subtitle “Katherine’s Field,” and our server noted it is their “signature wine.” This steel-fermented white has aromas of herbs and baked pear (they say), and we think thyme and unripe cantaloupe. We also taste unripe cantaloupe, along with a tart acidity and not much fruit. Not really for sipping, but it would be a good oyster wine.
2. 2010 Riesling $27
Though this uses grapes from upstate, it escapes the sometimes over-sweetness one finds with that fruit. A flowery aroma precedes tastes of grapefruit and dried apricot which unfolds quite pleasantly on the palate. Good finish and, we conclude, a really lovely well-made Riesling.
3. Collina Chardonnay $13
The server describes this as their “house white,” and notes that it is a combination of oak and steel-fermented wine, which should make it quite pleasant but does not. I think of the taste and smell as reminding me of a vacation house that has been closed up too long, with a sensation of damp and slightly moldy wood. We dump the remainder in the spit bucket, something we rarely do. Even on sale for $10, I can’t see buying this!
4. 2012 Early Wine $17
This is a special production of their Austrian winemaker, and is called early wine because…it is picked early. In late August, they harvest these mostly chardonnay grapes, and age the wine not at all, yielding an almost clear liquid. We think it will be tart, but instead it is rather sweet, with aromas of grass or hay and tastes of pear with a slight edge of lemon. Not bad, but not for us.
5. Collina 48 Merlot $13
New glass for the reds, always a nice touch. Mostly Merlot, with 5% each of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, this is a simple table-type wine that would be better with food than just sipping. We smell tobacco and bay leaf and taste some berry, but the taste leaves the tongue quickly and is quite dry and tart.
6. Sette Red Blend $19
Named for Settefrati (seven brothers), the village from which the Macaris emigrated, this is our favorite of the wines so far. A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, this wine smells to us like a combination of cocoa mulch (try it on your garden some time, but I warn you, every time you weed you’ll crave a chocolate bar) and green olives, with nice plum flavors. Very buyable.
7. 2007 Merlot Reserve $36
After 16 months in French oak, this merlot is then aged for four years, so it was just recently released. We detect a bit of menthol in the aroma, and also berry pie (a smell you’ll recognize if you’ve ever been to Briermere while they are baking). The taste starts sweet, then becomes quite nice, with black cherry and enough tannins that our tongues tingle. Interesting, and quite good.
8. 2008 Dos Aguas $27
Two waters, we ask? For the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, the two bodies of water that frame the North Fork, she replies. A Bordeaux blend, Dos Aguas combines 70% merlot with 17% cabernet sauvignon, 8% malbec, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. Strongly spicy aromas of nutmeg and berries, maybe some plum, make us anticipate a delicious wine, but it is not to be. Really not much to this one at all.
They also have, available by the glass but not included in the tasting, a couple of rosés and some dessert wines as well as a few additional wines. We buy two bottles of Sette and two Wineaux tea towels (how could we not?).
Reasons to visit: pleasant tasting room and outside seating area in a rustic setting; 2010 Riesling and Sette Red Blend; some nice gift items; choice of two tasting rooms so if you want to go there you can be flexible as to your route.