Roanoke: A Highlight of Love Lane July 25, 2018
We had some visitors who had never experienced the delights of Love Lane, so we gave them a little guided tour, from the funky Broken Down Valise bar across from the train station to the excellent Village Cheese Shop, with stops along the way to admire the Sweet Shop and Lombardi’s Market and the wall murals. Then we settled down on the shaded back patio (which would be a nicer setting if it didn’t look out on the parking lot) for a tasting at the Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar.
You used to be able to go to the Roanoke winery itself (on Sound Avenue just off Roanoke Avenue), but now the only way to taste their wines is in their wine bar on Love Lane, as the winery itself is only open to members of their wine club and their guests. I particularly remember one chilly winter evening when we were the only people at the winery and had a tasting of red wines and chocolates. Yum. However, the wine bar is conveniently located in the middle of the North Fork.
The room itself is rather small, with a bar along one side and a few tables and some comfortable chairs, and so is the back patio. But even in July, Wednesdays are rather quiet on the North Fork, and for much of our time there we were the only customers. As has been the rule this week, the weather alternated between rainy and steamy, but we were comfortable on the patio and enjoyed sipping and chatting with our friends.
The tasting menu used to be more extensive, but at the moment there is only one option: four tastes for $14. We decided each couple would share one taste, which the server brought out to us one at a time, quickly adapting to our slow and thoughtful pace. You can also buy bottles of wine from a few other wineries, including our favorite, Channing Daughters, and also Wölffer Estates, Red Hook, and Grapes of Roth.
- 2016 Roanoke Vineyards Pinot Blanc $24
Our friend’s initial reaction to the aroma of this wine was “pungent!” And yes, it has a rather sharp aroma of pineapple, with a whiff of some sort of chemical. A blend of 95% pinot blanc and 5% viognier, this is a light, dry summery wine with tastes of pineapple and citrus. It would be good with clams or oysters.
- 2017 Infinite Possibility $22
Just consider all the possibilities of taste and aroma you can get from a blend, in this case of 60% sauvignon blanc, 39.5% chardonnay, and .5% muscat and malvasia. Our server describes this wine as smelling sweeter than it tastes, and she’s not wrong. It smells like honeysuckle and tropical fruits, but the taste is dry and lemony, with hints of guava and spice. Tasty.
- 2017 Site Specific Chardonnay The Wild! $22
Yes, that is the exact name of this wine, including the italics and the exclamation point. Made from a muscat clone and steel-tank fermented with wild yeasts, you would never think this was a chardonnay if not for the name. A year ago we liked it, and the friend we were with bought a bottle. This year, not so much. There’s something verging on the unpleasant in the taste, which our friend describes as “yeasty.” We also get minerals and a touch of the nuttiness we liked last year, though this time it is more like bitter almond. And that’s why we have to go back every year!
- 2016 ≥ (Greater Than) $22
The only red in the tasting, this is a Bordeaux-style blend of 53% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, and 17% cabernet franc. It has a pleasant aroma of cherry and other fruit and also tastes of the cherry one would expect with a merlot. It is very dry, with some nice tannins, and would be good with a juicy hamburger (It is getting close to supper time!) We are intrigued by the name, and discover that it has a dual meaning. One is that, as a blend, it is greater than the sum of its parts. The other involves a dispute over the previous name of the wine, which was Bond. It turned out a California winery had a prior claim to the name, so the new name is a quiet dig at them…this one’s greater than yours! We bought a bottle.
Reasons to visit: convenient location amid the shops and restaurants of Love Lane; pleasant backyard patio; Greater Than; you can buy bottles of wine from other wineries; they have a variety of special events for members.