November 17, 2021
We used to love to go to Diliberto, and went so often that Sal Diliberto greeted us as friends. But, as is increasingly common on the North Fork, at some point he decided to sell his beloved vineyard, and it was bought by Jacqui Fusco and Greg Goodale, North Fork natives. One aspect of the tasting room we loved was the trompe l’oeil mural that made you feel as though you were sitting in an Italian piazza. Well, that is gone, but the room is beautifully re-done, decorated by one of the owners of Lumber + Salt, a salvage and antique store that specializes in reclaimed and repurposed items. For example, the shelving behind the bar, which itself includes part of a gate, is made of hardware pieces from the 1940s. A gigantic lamp is made from the top of a windmill.
Is Sal’s pizza oven still in the kitchen, we asked, and our server said it was, but they were not currently offering pizza, though, she noted, Sal was very generous as he helped them take over his place. Instead, they offer fairly standard cheese and charcuterie platters and a few other snacks. We decided to try BobbySue’s nuts, which turned out to be a variety called “Nuts Over Olives,” but which we did not particularly like. After we discussed the taste of them—a somewhat sweet amalgam of nuts and bits of olive—and admitted we did not care for them, she kindly offered us plain nuts, and then, when we declined, took the $5 bag of nuts off our bill.
We had the tasting room mostly to ourselves on this chilly November Thursday, but we noted that the renovation meant they have more seats, plus more tables and chairs on the porch and out on the lawn. Cute touch—the chairs around the porch table were draped with cozy-looking blankets. By the way, if you check out their web site you will see quite a few Italian words, honoring the new owners’ love of Italian culture, food, and wines. They even have an espresso machine behind the bar.
Wanting to try the full array of their wines, we opted for two flights, one of whites and one of reds, for $22 and $24, respectively. The tastes came to the table in sturdy wooden boxes, four round-bottomed glasses in each, filled with a generous amount of wine. We didn’t finish most of them, not because we didn’t like them, but because it was more wine than we wanted to have. Our server noted that the merlot and the Tre are still Diliberto’s wines, but the rest are their own. Overall, we felt that the wines were pleasant, but not exciting.
- 2020 Sauvignon Blanc $32
The tasting notes mention “white peach,” and I agree, plus lemon. This is a light, dry, refreshing white, good to have with oysters (which I hear are offered here on weekends).
- 2020 Sole Chardonnay $35
Our server noted that the name is Italian for sun—not fish, though it would be good with a nice filet of sole. It is a light, steel-fermented chard, with a slightly piney aroma, some citrus, and what the tasting notes call “apple and guava.” I would say, green apple.
- 2020 White Merlot $40
This category of wines—whites made from red grapes, with minimal skin contact, but not categorized as rosés—seems to be getting more popular. This one is a pretty pale pink, with an aroma of cherries, a touch sweet, and easy to drink.
- 2018 Reserve Chardonnay $40
I’m often not fond of oaked chardonnays, but this one is not too oaky, so I don’t mind it. The aroma is slightly funky and woodsy, and so is the taste. My tasting buddy says it is “nice,” which is pretty much what we’ve sa;id of all the wines so far.
- 2017 Cabernet Franc $33
I smell peppercorns, and my tasting buddy agrees. This is a light red, a bit peppery but mild, dry, a red one could drink with roast chicken.
- 2017 Mercato $35
A 50/50 blend of cabernet franc and merlot, we again categorize this wine as nice. I know, not a very expressive term, but it seems apropos. We taste some cherry from the merlot, and some spice from the cab franc, but, as my husband says, “there’s not much to it.”
- 2015 Merlot $42
This wine is still Diliberto’s bottling, and, in contrast to the above, my pal says “there’s something to it.” I agree, that it is the most interesting wine so far today, with lots of typical merlot cherry aroma and taste, plus purple plum.
- Tre Blend $45
As the name suggests, this is a Bordeaux-type blend of three wines—65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc. This is actually one of the few wines we finish, as it is very pleasant to drink, and would go well with a cheese tray, if we had ordered one. I don’t know how much longer this will be available, since it is another one of Diliberto’s wines.
Reasons to visit: fascinating décor, worth examining; intimate room; all the wines are easy to drink, though none are outstanding, but my favorites were the sauvignon blanc and the Tre; generous pour.