Sherwood House: Just a Touch Funky September 20, 2014

The 1860s farmhouse that houses Sherwood House's tasting room

The 1860s farmhouse that houses Sherwood House’s tasting room

Located on the Main Road in Jamesport in an 1860s farmhouse, Sherwood House’s tasting room has a homey, slightly funky atmosphere, enhanced by the fireplace in the main room, the outdoor deck areas, and the adjacent Material Objects shop which features antique and found objects of all sorts.  They also have an outdoor tasting area in their vineyard in Mattituck, which may or may not be open.  As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed an exciting sign:  raw bar.  Oh goody!  We have become enamored of the local Peconic Bay oysters.

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The main room is homey and cozy, with soft couches in front of the fireplace (which actually has a fire in the winter), bunches of flowers, and a wooden bar along one side.  You can also opt to go outside, either to a back deck or to a front seating area with picnic tables.  On this Saturday afternoon the room also contains a singer/guitar player, strumming folk-ish songs.  As we stand at the bar we see a huge party bus pull into the parking lot, but they are clearly headed for the tasting barn out back, where we went last winter for a very enjoyable music performance.

Fireplace seating area

Fireplace seating area

The tasting menu offers three flights:  Estate, four tastes for $10; Premium, four for $12; or Top Reds, four for $15.  They also offer a taste of their brandy, $10 for a one-ounce pour.  There is some overlap amongst the offerings, so they don’t actually have 12 wines.  They also offer a cheese platter for $20, and wines by the glass for $6-12.

We decide to share a tasting of the Premium flight, and then decide whether to get another tasting or go for a glass of wine to have with a plate of oysters.

  1. 2012 Oregon Road Chardonnay                                $18

Oregon Road is the pretty back road on which their vineyard is located, where you can also find Shinn and Lieb’s tasting rooms.  This is their steel fermented chard, a pleasant but rather soft and not-crisp quaff, with tastes of sweet ripe pineapple and an aroma of sweet orange.

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  1. 2011 Chardonnay $30

Of course this smells like vanilla and ripe pear, as it is an oaked chard, with tastes of tangerine on the front, then butterscotch and vanilla.  It is surprisingly tart for an oaked chard, though it is mellow enough to make it a pleasant sipping wine.  We quite like it.

  1. 2007 Merlot $26

Since 07 was a very good year on the North Fork, we have high hopes for this merlot, but our server warns us not to get our hopes up too high.  “The 07 is at the end of its development,” he notes, “and the 08 has more growth potential.”  Sniff.  Earth, tobacco, and something organic.  Taste.  Some dark fruit, tobacco, dry but not tannic, and not much of a finish.  I would say, if you have a bottle of this, drink it now.

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  1. 2008 Merlot $34

Much better!  The tasting menu notes this scored an 87 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and we can see why.  “The aroma just jumped out at me,” says my husband.  Not sure what he means, but it smells delicious.  No earth, lots of fruit, and then we taste dark fruit and chocolate.  Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad pairing—this wine and some dark chocolate, maybe with a bit of raspberry in the chocolate.  This is our favorite of the day, and if we come here during the winter for a concert, I would get a glass of this.



However, we are headed for the oysters.  Though we feel it wouldn’t be the best pairing, we opt for glasses of the 2011 Chardonnay, though I would prefer a sauvignon blanc to go with oysters.  The oysters are delicious, sweet and briny and full of liquid, fresh from Peconic Bay, to the west of Robins Island, as we are told.  We spend a pleasant half hour sitting outside, enjoying our wine and bivalves and listening to the music from inside, which we appreciate much more now that it is not quite so loud.

Front porch and oyster bar

Front porch and oyster bar

Reasons to visit:  a very pleasant tasting room; an intimate setting that also can accommodate groups; the chance to browse the collection at Material Objects; the 2011 Chardonnay and the 2008 Merlot.

Back deck

Back deck

California: The Winery Collective September 15, 2014

View of San Francisco Bay from near the tasting room

View of San Francisco Bay from near the tasting room

I know, you would think if Nofowineaux went to California she would visit Napa/Sonoma, but this was a very short visit to San Francisco to see an old and dear friend, so time was limited. However, we did get to a tasting room (of course!) in San Francisco for a winery located, surprisingly, IN San Francisco. The Winery Cooperative is located in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, just a little way to the left (as you have your back to the bay) of Ghirardelli Square and near the surprisingly well done little National Park Service museum about the bay and its history. They represent several boutique wineries, but we ended up tasting only the wines from The Winery SF.

The Winery actually has a vineyard located in San Francisco, on an island in the bay called Treasure Island, which was formed primarily from land fill. They also use grapes from Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties. The tasting menu had a number of options, and we chose to share a tasting of four wines for $15. Some other options were $20. The room itself is fairly small, and is mostly taken up by a long wooden bar with stools. Our server was pleasant and enthusiastic, but couldn’t answer all of our questions about the wines.

Map of Treasure Island, sans X marks the spot.

Map of Treasure Island, sans X marks the spot.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $15.99

Sunday afternoon we had had fresh briny Hog Island oysters with beers at The Ferry Marketplace, and we decided they would have also gone well with this wine. An aroma of tangerine precedes tastes of citrus and mineral in this rather bright and tart wine with a nice long finish. Their tasting notes characterize it as “Napa and New Zealand Style.”


  1. 2012 Chardonnay $24.99

Our server tells us that this spends “some, but not too much” time in oak, so is not as buttery as some California chards. We agree that it is not too buttery (good), but that it is overall just okay, with a taste my husband compares to unripe grapes. Hmmm, a wine that tastes like grapes…We scent some mineral, and some of that vanilla-ish wood smell.

  1. 2010 People’s Blend $15.99

“This wine has everything but the kitchen sink,” our server chuckles. Yes, it does: syrah, zinfandel, mourvedre, cabernet sauvignon, petite syrah, and malbec. The leftovers? Maybe! Given the complexity of the grapes, this is a surprisingly mono-dimensional wine, dry, but with some fruit. The aroma has some chemical notes—cleaning fluid, opines my husband—as well as dark berries. It would be a fine pizza wine, and indeed the brief tasting notes mention what a good value it is twice. The notes also explain the name, “as diverse as the People of San Francisco.”


  1. 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon $24.99

Mmmm, this smells very nice, like plums and cherries. However, the taste is, again, just okay. It is dry with some spice and fruit, but a bit thin. One could drink it with lamb. We ask how long it was aged, and no one seems to know. ”Two years?” guesses one server.

  1. WSF Glitter Sparkling Wine $20.00

Yes, the tasting was for four wines, but for only $1 we could add a taste of a sparkling wine. Why not? Well, at least the price was right. It starts tingly and nice, then pow! hits you with sugar. Actually pretty bad—if it had been a bigger pour we would have dumped it!


Reasons to visit: you’re in San Francisco and searching for something to occupy a half hour or so in the Fisherman’s Wharf area; you’d like to sit down and rest a bit inside somewhere; the sauvignon blanc.


Pellegrini Vineyards: One of Our Favorites September 6, 2013

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Going with a group?  Have kids in tow?  Want to sit quietly at a table and ponder your tasting?  Like whites?  Like reds?  Pellegrini is good for all these conditions! On this visit we saw a large bachelorette party enjoying their tasting in the tented courtyard, a couple—he wearing a t-shirt that said Brooklyn—at a table under the pergola, and a family with kids who ran around on the lawn, among others.

A view to the courtyard and pergola

A view to the courtyard and pergola

Their tasting menu offers several different options, including a flight they bring to your table of three two-ounce pours of wines of your choice from a menu of 12, plus a complimentary one-ounce taste of their merlot, for $12, or a tasting of their Vintner’s Pride wines for $14.  Tastings include a packet of oyster crackers to clear the palate.  When you get your tray of tastes, sample them from left to right and top to bottom, as they are arranged on a labeled placemat.  If you’re not sure in which order to taste (order matters, as a delicate wine will be lost if you taste it after a more forceful one), ask your server.  They also offer a cheese plate or a chocolate and wine pairing, but they don’t seem to mind if you bring your own snacks.  All wines are made from grapes grown on their estate. We belong to their wine club, so our tastings are free.  We got two tastings, one of their whites and the other of the reds, and shared.

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  1. East End Select Rosé                     $14.99

This is a steel-fermented blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc with a pleasantly herbal—rosemary?—aroma.  We decided we would like it as an accompaniment to fish, as it is nice and dry with lemony tastes, but it is not a sipper.  If you want some, go now, as it is on an end-of-season sale of three bottles for $33 (we bought three).  Not as good as Croteaux 314, however.

The tray of whites and rose, plus the merlot.

The tray of whites and rose, plus the merlot.

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer                 $19.99

We’ve been on a bit of a gewürzt kick lately, for no real reason, so we can compare this to others of its ilk. We find it a bit too sweet for us, though the finish is rather tart.  Still, it’s a pleasant wine, with aromas of honeysuckle and tangerine, and would make a nice aperitif.

  1. 2013 Medley White $21.99

A blend (hence the name Medley) of 60% chardonnay and 40% sauvignon blanc, steel-fermented, this wine has mineral and lemon aromas and a refreshing taste—not too tart, not too sweet, with tastes of gooseberry and citrus and mineral.  “Hmmm,” I say, “I think this would pair well with tuna-noodle casserole.  I’m not kidding!”

  1. 2007 Merlot $19.99

Merlot is their signature wine, and they make a lot of it.  The 07 is actually a bit of a blend; though it is 90% merlot it also includes 6% cabernet sauvignon, 3% cabernet franc, and 2% petit verdot, giving it some complexity.  This is an easy wine to drink, soft, with tasty blackberry notes.

The tray of reds.

The tray of reds.

  1. Steakhouse Red                                 $16.99

I think I’d rather have this with lamb chops than with steak, but that’s just me.  A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this has a bit of that forest smell that merlots sometimes have, and is quite dry, with some tannins.  This and the other reds are all aged in oak.

  1. 2010 Petit Verdot $49.99

Yum.  “Good from start to finish,” says my husband, and I agree.  The color is very dark, and we sense lots of ripe fruit aromas and tastes.  This one I would have with a good steak, for sure.

It was very humid outside, so we opted to stay inside in the air conditioning.

It was very humid outside, so we opted to stay inside in the air conditioning.

  1. 2010 Vintner’s Pride Encore $49.99

A Bordeaux blend—60% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 15% petit verdot—one would expect this wine to be better than the previous one, but it is not.  We smell spice and dark tea leaves, but are underwhelmed by the taste.  For the price, it is disappointing.  “It never opens up,” says my husband.  Maybe if it sat in the glass longer?  But it is the last of our tastes, so it has been there for a while.  Oh, well.

One part of the tasting room.

One part of the tasting room.

Reasons to visit:  you’re with a group; you’re not with a group; you have kids in tow who need room to run; you like reds; you like whites; the 2013 Medley White; the 2013 Gewürztraminer; the 2010 Petit Verdot; the Steakhouse Red.


Beautiful grapes.

Beautiful grapes.

One Woman Wines and Vineyards: A One-Woman Show? August 31, 2014

Busses actually means kisses, but my guess is they're referring to the vehicles.

Busses actually means kisses, but my guess is they’re referring to the vehicles.

It seems One Woman has been discovered.  Last year we basically had the place to ourselves, but this year it was fairly full, including hipsters in straw fedoras stepping up to the bar in the tiny tasting barn.  Yet the youthful servers managed everyone with aplomb, including our server, a young man who kept careful track of where we were and managed to share observations on each wine while also taking care of several other groups.  (For comments on the one woman whose winery this is, see my entry from last August.)

One Woman has expanded its list of offerings, but they still have the only Grüner Veltliner around, and that alone is worth the trip.  Large signs outside warn that buses (spelled busses, which actually means kisses!) and limos are verboten, as well as groups of more than six.  They really don’t have the facilities for large groups, but if you are a small group this is a good place to taste some lovely wines.  The menu offers two tastes for $6, three for $8, or four for $10, out of a list of eight wines.  You can also sample the Reserve wines, a menu of four for $14 (or one for $4).  What does Reserve mean?  Here it means the grapes have spent about another two weeks on the vines for a fuller flavor and that the grapes have also been hand-picked one by one with a tweezer-like implement by Claudia Purita (the One Woman) herself.  We decided to share four from the regular menu plus the four Reserves.

Part of the outside area.

Part of the outside area.

  1. 2013 Grüner Veltliner                    $20

“I’ll start you off with the 2013,” says our server, “since it is the lightest of your choices.”  And he is right.  We scent a bit of honeysuckle, taste some roast pear. Tart and light. Though this is purely steel fermented, we could swear we taste oak.  Our server chuckles and says that is common.

  1. 2012 Grüner Veltliner              $20

What a difference a year makes!  I love this one!  Our server calls it “a white for red wine lovers,” and I can see why.  It is deep and full of flavor, with some toasted caramel notes.  Again, hard to believe this is all steel fermented.  This is also a great pairing to show people why the year and how the wines were handled matters.

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  1. 2012 Gewürztraminer      $23

Very floral aromas, including some lavender, introduce a rather tart gewurzt.  0% residual sugar, notes our server, who also suggests this would pair well with Thai food.  My husband compares it to sour apple candy, and I get it.

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer      $23

“Claudia says this is the most typical Gewürztraminer she’s ever made,” says our server.  “It has 3% residual sugar.”  It is certainly sweeter than the 2012, with an aroma of thyme honey and lavender and some gooseberry tastes.  A bit too sweet for us, though not unpleasantly so.

  1. 2011 Estate Reserve Chardonnay      $32

Very oaky, which is not surprising given that it is completely oak-fermented.  We smell vanilla and those scented pine cones you can sometimes buy in the fall.  We taste a touch of citrus, but then the oak takes over.  If you like a California-style oaky chardonnay, this is for you.

The pour is about average in size.

The pour is about average in size.

  1. 2010 Estate Reserve Merlot      $48

Our first red of the tasting, the merlot is nice but not all that interesting.  A bit of forest scent, blackberry tastes, fairly soft, and the end is a bit too oaky and tart.

Dessert wine

Dessert wine

  1. 2008 Estate Reserve Merlot      $48

The smell reminds me of a cabin on a lake—that slightly damp smell of exposed wood. This has more to it than the ’10, with nice legs. The server describes the scent as smoked paprika, but I don’t get that.

  1. Estate Reserve Dessert Wine       $39

Okay, so it’s not as good as Chateau D’Yquem, but it’s pretty nice.  I would drink this with paté de foie gras any day!  Or even a chocolate mousse.  It is quite delicious, made with late harvest Gewürztraminer grapes.

The tasting barn

We decide to buy two bottles of the 2012 Grüner Veltliner.  Because at the crucial moment of the end of our tasting our server was distracted, and took a little while to get back to us, he doesn’t charge us for the tastings, a nice courtesy.

Reasons to Visit:  Long Island’s first, and possibly still only, Grüner Veltliner; tasting some nice wines in a peacefully bucolic setting; the Gewürztraminers; the dessert wine; oh, and you can buy D’Latte gelato from a little freezer case.

We've been told in the past that Claudia Purita even arranges the flowers.

We’ve been told in the past that Claudia Purita even arranges the flowers.