Kontakosta’s motto—“Sound Life. Sound Wine.”—is a nice play on words, since they are situated on a high bluff overlooking Long Island Sound and they also follow ecologically sensitive practices—such as generating their electricity through the use of a windmill. The wine is, in general, quite nice. We also speculated whether some of the briny, mineral tastes in the wines might come from their waterfront location.
The tasting room is a beautifully spare space, all white and black, with large windows looking out over the vineyards. There’s a bar at one end and long tables for those who prefer to sit, plus an upper balcony. Our group of four opted for the bar, where we found very informative and engaging servers. The tasting menu offers two flights, one of five whites for $14 and another of five reds, also $14. We decided that each couple would do one of each, sharing as we went. We also shared a cheese tray, which consisted of a very generous and tasty block of Toussaint raw cow milk cheese and a sleeve of crackers for $12.
We started with the whites.
- NV Anemometer White $16
This is their table white, made from sauvignon blanc grapes from various vintages. Our friend said it smelled like a lemon bar, which was quite accurate. We also detected some vegetable aromas and some minerality. The taste was also somewhat lemony and mineral, tart but not terribly crisp. We all agreed it would go well with oysters. (The name anemometer, by the way, refers to a device that measures wind speed, an indirect homage to their windmill.)
- 2013 Orient Chardonnay $22
Before we could ask, our server volunteered the information that it is called Orient because the grapes come from Sargon Vineyard, out in Orient. A steel-fermented chard, this has typical honeysuckle and orange aromas and some gooseberry flavor. My husband found it too mineral, with some wet rock flavors (whatever that tastes like), but the rest of us liked it.
- 2013 Sauvignon Blanc $25
“This is made in the Sancerre style,” volunteered our server, “And it won a gold medal!” We sniff and agree: pineapple and mango on the nose and in the mouth. Nice, though a bit sweet, but it goes well with the cheese.
- 2013 Viognier $25
“This is my favorite wine to go with that cheese,” enthuses our server, and we agree with her wholeheartedly. The aroma reminds me of these wonderful cantaloupe-type melons called Hand Melons we used to get upstate, and the wine also has some cantaloupe tastes.
- 2012 Viognier
Observing how serious we are about our tasting, our server pours us each an extra taste, of the 2012 Viognier, which is almost sold out, and which she says is her favorite of the whites. Interestingly, this has a sweeter aroma and taste than the 2013, though still lots of cantaloupe, with more floral notes. It’s a more challenging wine, observes my husband.
- 2013 Dry Riesling $22
This has only .06% sugar, we are told, which means it is most definitely a dry riesling. They used to have an off-dry riesling for those who come in and request “the sweetest white you have,” but they no longer make it. This is definitely a dry riesling, with a touch of that cat pee smell (an observation which causes some hilarity among our cat-owning friends) and a simple but pleasant taste. Delicate, notes our friend.
- Anemometer Red Table Wine $16
Now we move on to the reds, for which we are given new glasses. This is a blend of 60% cabernet franc and 30% cabernet sauvignon, from various vintages. We discuss the varying implications of saying an inexpensive table wine vs. a cheap red, and decide this belongs in the former category—especially when we learn they are running a special of 50% off for a case of the red and the white Anemometers. Our noses detect a hint of ripe olives and “wet laundry,” says my husband, as well as some fruit. The wine itself is light but “very acceptable,” with lots of nice fruit flavor. We decide to get a case of eight reds and four whites.
- 2007 Blum Merlot $19
Ray Blum had a vineyard in Southold planted in merlot vines, which has since been bought by Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines, so this is the last anyone will have of the Blum Merlot. It’s a fine, fairly typical North Fork merlot, with a touch of barnyard odor and black cherry taste. Very nice.
- 2010 Estate Merlot $34
Yum. Aged six months in French oak and six months in steel, this is a really good merlot, with lots of black cherry taste plus a touch of vanilla.
- 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29
This one is aged in Hungarian oak. What’s the difference? Hungarian oak is cheaper, gives a milder flavor, and is more tightly grained so there’s less evaporation (the “angel’s share”). This is also yum! Brambly aroma, lots of layers of flavor, including blackberry. This is one that could be saved for future drinking. “Or buy two,” suggests our server, “and drink one now and save the other for later.”
- 2012 Cabernet Franc $40
Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco Wine Challenge competition, we are told. Hmmm. This is a dry red, with aromas of pepper and nutmeg and mixed berry tastes. “It has no gravitas,” opines my tasting buddy.
Reasons to go: Beautiful tasting room overlooking the Sound, which you can walk to in good weather; knowledgeable servers; the Anemometer wines if you need to buy some decent table wines for everyday drinking; the Sauvignon Blanc, the Viognier, the Estate Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon. They also sell olive oil—not made locally! However, we are headed to Greenport to check out Vines and Branches’ new digs, so we decline to try the olive oil.