Kontokosta Winery June 23, 2013


Kontokosta building

One great aspect of choosing to write about North Fork wineries for a blog is that there is not much risk of running out of material.  Not only do wineries change their offerings with each new harvest—necessitating return visits—but new wineries are constantly springing up.  Case in point, as Rod Serling liked to say, Kontokosta Winery in Greenport, which opened its very attractive doors on June 12th.  As you head east towards Orient Point on Sound Avenue you pass a flashing light, where you could turn to head into Greenport.  Instead, stay straight and you’ll come to a gate on your left, which leads to a long gravel drive and then to a parking lot next to a large imposing building, bracketed by vines, a view of Long Island Sound, and a tall windmill, about which more later.Kontokosta insideKontokosta interior

Inside, the spacious tasting room is sleekly modern in style, with a serene black and white color scheme. We note several tables where a happy party is taking photos of themselves and a long tasting bar.  We find a space at the bar, where a lovely young woman explains the choices to us.  All the servers are clad in black shirts with the Kontokostas logo on the chest, a discreet three red bars.  One of the servers is a gentleman we recognize from several other venues, including the Tasting Room and Empire Cellars, and he assures us we are about to experience some terrific wines.  A tasting consists of four one ounce pours for $10, chosen from a menu of ten wines, five white and five red.  There’s also a three-pour tasting and wines by the glass.   We opt for two four-wine flights, one of white and then one of red, both of which we share, skipping the rosé and the Blum Merlot.

Kontokosta white

  1.  NV Anemometer White                                              $16

Why Anemometer, we ask, noticing the representation of a spinning anemometer on the bottle?  The winery is very proud of its use of wind power, our server notes, and in fact everything on the property is powered by wind.  Our friend from other venues notes that on a very windy day you can see the electric meter spin backward, so that LIPA ends up owing them money.  On to the wine, which is a blend, though primarily sauvignon blanc.  Refreshing, we agree, with an aroma of Meyer lemon and mineral, with tastes of citrus and honeysuckle at the end.  This would be good for summer sipping, and also would go well with turkey dishes.  Very buyable!

2.  2009 Orient Chardonnay                               $17

The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard in Orient, hence the name.  A lightly oaked chard, this is just okay, and a bit sour.  There’s plenty of orangey-lemon tastes, and some oak at the end, but we don’t find it particularly pleasant.

3.  2012 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $25

Not surprisingly, we find this wine reminds us of the Anemometer White, though with some different tastes.  Overall it is a bit sweet for us, with aromas of honeysuckle and green plum and tastes of wildflower honey with a vegetal note at the end.  My husband says green beans…not sure I agree.  This is the first wine they made here.

4.  2010 Viognier                                    $25

Bedell is the only other North Fork winery to use this grape, so we are interested to see how it compares.  At Bedell we had their 2011 Viognier, which we found very pleasing, with complex spicy fruit and citrus flavors.  This one has aromas of blood orange and peach, with peachy tastes and some tannins, but not so complex.

Kontokosta red

5.  Anemometer Red 2006                 $19

I would expect this to be a blend, but it is 100% syrah, we are told.  The aroma has some of that East End barnyard smell, plus red berry, and the taste reminds us of red sucking candy.  While not for sipping, this would be okay with food, such as pork chops.

6.  2010 Cabernet Sauvignon            $22

We smell ripe berries and plums, and not much earth, and taste lots of fruit, with a nice dry finish.  I’d love this with a nice medium-rare duck breast, and it could stand up to steak as well.

7.  2007 Merlot                                       $29

Again we smell that earthy barnyard aroma, plus some mineral.  This is just okay—dry, with decent fruit, but a bit of a chemical acetone taste at the end.  You could have this with a rich pork dish and it would be fine, but it is overpriced for what it is.

8.  2007 Cabernet Franc                       $29

“This is one of my favorites,” enthuses our server, and we can see why, as it is definitely the best of the reds, with lots of fruit and a lovely aroma of ripe berries, not too sweet but not too dry, either.  Oh, she adds, all the reds are aged in new French oak.

After we finish the wines, we are offered tastes of three olive oils they are selling—all for $28—an extra virgin, a Minneola tangelo and a jalapeῆo lime.  They’re nice, but we’ll stick with Vines and Branches.  We also learn that the winery is proud of its use of recycled materials in its construction, which is partly reflected in their slogan, “Sound Life, Sound Wine,” or as they say on their FaceBook page, “Registered with the USGBC under the LEED New Construction 2009 rating system, our winery has been designed to meet the gold certification level. To meet these high standards, the building is constructed of 100% recycled steel and reclaimed wood siding, and will be powered by wind energy.”

The windmill!

The windmill!

We enjoy the view out the large window to the Long Island Sound on this lovely June day as we wrap up our visit with the purchase of a bottle of the Anemometer White.

Kontokosta view

Reasons to visit:  You’re in Greenport without a car and you’d like to go to a winery; you’ve tried all the others and are looking for a new winery; Anemometer White and 07 Cabernet Franc; the chance to appreciate a lovely view while doing a tasting; you’re on your way to the Hellenic and have some time to kill before dinner.

Nofowineaux Goes to Virginia


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Who knew?  Virginia has over 230 wineries, and, according to the Virginia Winery Guide 2013 map, is divided into “9 winemaking regions” and features “25 wine trails.”  I just went to one winery, but I was duly impressed.  A New York area wine lover could do worse than schedule a wine tasting trip to Virginia (and you can visit the house of Thomas Jefferson—founding father AND wine lover—as long as you’re there).

My brother took me to Paradise Springs Winery in the über-cute town of Clifton, Virginia.  The winery itself is down a winding country road bordered by beautiful estates and woods, and features a large tasting barn, an old log cabin, and ample outdoor areas where we saw many people picnicking, tossing Frisbees, and just relaxing.  Lots of people.  Happily, there was room at the long bar in the tasting room, and an attractive and knowledgeable young woman named Kat took care of us.  A tasting of seven of their wines cost only $10, and since it was Father’s Day they added a complimentary tasting of Swagger, their Port style wine.   Small dishes of round crackers on the bar are there as palate cleansers.  They also offer a fairly extensive menu of snacks, including cheeses from $8-$12, but many of the people we saw seemed to have brought their own picnics.

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  1.  2011 Chardonnay                                            $29

For a barrel-fermented chard, this was not overly oaky, with slight aromas of vanilla and apple, and a taste of Granny Smith apple.  Very good, either as a sipping wine or with food.

2.  2011 Petit Manseng                                        $27

Kat explains that this is a grape that is often used for dessert wines, but they harvest it early and make a dry style wine with it.  My brother and I agree that it is delicious, with some tastes of pineapple and pear, with some citrus zing and a slight strawberry aroma.  Kat notes that it would be good with spicy food, a good call.  Buyable!

3.  2012 Sommet Blanc                                         $24

This is a blend, 65% Vidal Blanc, 16% Traminette, 14% Riesling, and 5% Chardonnay.  Now I’m wishing for a nice bowl of lobster bisque, because this wine would go well with any creamy seafood dish, as it is nicely dry but with plenty of fruit and some aromas of spice and flowers.

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4.  2012 Nana’s Rosé                                             $22

Here’s a rosé that could challenge Croteaux, and indeed, Kat tells us that it is a French style rosé, so it is dry and full of flavor from the Merlot grapes from which it is made.  Great summer sipper, as I soon prove.

5.  2011 Mélange                                                    $27

Another blend, this is their Bordeaux-style wine:  53% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8% Petit Verdot.  We like this one very much, as it has plenty of red berry or cherry fruit, yet enough tannins to be interesting.  We learn that the Cabernet Franc grapes are the only ones grown on the winery’s property, with the rest bought from others, such as Chrysalis vineyard.  Also buyable.

6.  2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon           $32

Perhaps with more time this wine would be better, but we find it a bit thin, not the rich flavor that is promised by the tasting notes.

7.  2011 Norton                                                       $28

My brother is quite eager to have me taste this wine, as the Norton grape is a native Virginia grape, once cultivated by Thomas Jefferson himself.  Thinking of Concord grapes, I’m expecting this to be too sweet and, though it is somewhat “jammy,” it is also good.  Kat says it is great to make mulled wine with this in the winter.  A mineral aroma precedes some sour cherry flavors, with a bit of a not unpleasant vegetable after taste.

8.  Swagger, Edition I                                            $39

Get out the cigars and the small glasses, send the ladies to the parlor, it’s time for that after dinner sip of port!  J.K.  But this is a very nice Port-style wine, again not too sweet but, after being aged 17 months in Virginia bourbon barrels, full of all sorts of deep flavors.

My brother and I each opt to buy a bottle of the Petit Manseng and the Mélange.  Must be something genetic.  Then we each get a glass so we can sit outside and sip and chat.  I opt for the rosé ($7 for a glass), and find that it does indeed hold up well over the course of a full glass. Unfortunately, the young man playing guitar is not nearly as talented as the wine.  Afterwards, we walk up the road and hike down to Bull Run—yes, the actual stream that was the site of a Civil War battle!

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Later that evening, my brother opens a bottle of Horton Vineyards Norton wine, and I like that even better than Paradise Springs’ version.

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Reasons to visit:  You’re in Virginia and you want to try a winery; you’ve hiked the trail to Bull Run and you need some refreshment after your hike; you live in Washington, D.C. and this is the closest winery to the city; plenty of nice wines to try; picnic areas and a family atmosphere; Petit Manseng and Mélange and the chance to try the Norton (nothing to do with Jackie Gleason) grape.

Coffee Pot Cellars June 2, 2013


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“I have to put out the wine tasting flag,” said Adam Suprenant, the owner and winemaker for Coffee Pot Cellars, “because people keep coming in wanting a cup of coffee!”  He grinned affably and looked around his spare but pleasant tasting room, which just opened a week ago on Main Road in a building formerly occupied by a real estate office.  Mr. Suprenant is the winemaker for Osprey’s Dominion, but he also decided to express himself with his own label, named, not for a pot of coffee, but for the lighthouse in Orient which supposedly looks like a coffee pot.  He makes just four wines, so, he noted, “They’d better be good!”  That they are; not a clunker in the bunch.

The tasting room features a very attractive bar made from reclaimed poplar wood, a small selection of wine-related items, and honey and beeswax products made by Blossom Meadow, a venture of his fiancée, who manages about 100 bee hives around the North Fork. Over on a shelf sits a demonstration hive, with a glass front so you can watch the busy bees at work.

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We each had our own tasting, $7.00 for all four wines, or $2.00 per taste, and also enjoyed Mr. Suprenant’s comments on how he made each wine.

1.      2011 Sauvignon Blanc             $17.99 

Because not many vineyards grow sauvignon blanc grapes, Coffee Pot Cellars buys these grapes from Osprey’s Dominion, but Mr. S. makes the wine his own way.  A slightly mineral aroma precedes tastes of citrus and honeydew, with a nicely long and interesting finish.  Definitely a good raw seafood wine!

2.     2011 Chardonnay                     $15.99

“This is my Hurricane Irene wine,” Mr. S. notes, remembering how the intense rain and wind of the hurricane was followed two days later by heavy rain, forcing the early harvesting of the grapes.  “The wine was very lean,” he adds, so he allowed some malolactic fermentation, but aged the wine in older oak barrels, avoiding the over-oakiness and butteriness of some chardonnays.  We like this wine quite a bit, with its honey-vanilla aroma and just a hint of butterscotch amid the citrus flavors.  Buyable!

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3.     2008 Merlot                              $17.99

This is the wine Coffee Pot started with, and merlot is of course Long Island’s most-grown red wine grape. The fruit for this and the chardonnay all came from one vineyard in Aquebogue, from a vineyard where the grower only grows grapes for others, rather than making his own wine.  That allows the wine to express its terroir, but not, we are pleased to note, with the earthy or dirt barnyard smells of some local reds.  “People ask me if Long Island wines will age well,” our new friend says, “and I say depends on the wine.  This one is doing quite well, and many will age for 6-8 years and just get better.”   We smell a pleasantly brambly aroma and taste pleasant berry and good tannins, though not a lot of depth.  Pretty color, too.

4. 2008 Meritage                           $21.99

After making just merlot, Mr. S. decided to try a blend, so he went to some winemakers at Premium Wine Group (at Lieb Cellars) to see if they had any wine they were not interested in using.  After some mixing and tasting, he came up with this very lovely wine, mostly merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon and 6% each petit verdot and cabernet franc.  Smells like a Briermere berry pie to me!  The petit verdot adds a bit of black pepper to the delicious fruit flavor, so it is sweet but not too sweet.  “I’ll only make this in the best years,” he explains, and also describes how he puts the wine through an oxidative process to eliminate that earth flavor, and also filters out the yeasts so they will stay the way he wants them to be. Buyable.

We buy a bottle each of the Chardonnay and the Meritage, plus some honey and a box of cat-shaped beeswax candles.

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Reasons to visit:  A chance to talk to the winemaker and learn all about how he makes his wines; four quite tasty wines; honey and beeswax products; a nice quiet tasting room.