March 26, 2022
This time the only complicating factor—we thought—was the well-behaved pooch our visitors brought with them. So we carefully planned to go to Jason’s Winery for a tasting, even though we knew Jamesport was holding a St. Patrick’s Day Parade that Saturday. Looking at a map of the parade route, we thought we could get to Jason’s. A couple of detours later, we got there—only to discover that it was the site of an after-parade party, with the grounds packed with cars. Plan B. We parked on a side road and called a couple of other tasting rooms. No dogs; no dogs; okay for a dog, but there’s one here now, said the lovely woman at McCall’s, and the room is small. We popped our heads in anyway, and were barked at. Never mind. Then I remembered that Duck Walk is owned by the same family that owns Jason’s and Pindar—the family of Dr. “Dan” Damianos—and is also “pet friendly.”
Though the rain had commenced to fall heavily, we decided to head to Duck Walk as our last possibility, as the afternoon was slipping away. In we went, to be greeted by a wall of sound. Though the live entertainment consisted of one man with a guitar, his amp and mic must have been set on the loudest settings, and the room is cavernous, so it was so noisy we could barely hear the woman at the cash register inside the door. The noise was abetted by perhaps five or six bachelorette parties, easily identifiable by the woman in the midst of each wearing a white veil, including one group whose theme was “disco,” and who were dressed in sparkling outfits. Should we stay? We decided to stay.
The visiting pooch was a big hit with the bachelorettes, who had a great time petting him and receiving doggie kisses in exchange. We also noted that Duck Walk allows outside food, and one party was happily consuming picnic lunches, most likely provided by the limo company. Some bags of pretzels and popcorn are for sale, plus bottles of water.
We paid for two tastings, at $13 for four tastes, and received a little slip of paper to present at the bar. You can also pay directly at the bar, as we observed. However, considering how hard the two—later three—servers were working, I’m glad we didn’t give them that additional task. After seating ourselves at a picnic table as far as possible from the music—which would have been fine at a lower decibel level—we headed to the bar and perused a menu. There we were confronted with twenty-three possibilities on a complicated list which has the categories “white wine varietal,” “white blends and rosé,” “red blends,” “red wines varietal,” and “dessert & sparkling wines.” Whew. One guest prefers her wines on the sweet side, so she consulted with Matt, a superlative server, who kindly marked the sweeter wines—eight in all—on her menu. Also on offer, they make Absenthe, the “traditional distilled spirit with wormwood,” for $5 per taste. At the bar, I noted a couple of taps for Greenport Harbor beers. As I went to get one of my tastes, a couple walked up to the bar and the young man told his companion, “I want a beer,” so I hope they were happy with what they found.
We opted to get up and get each taste, since there was no way to carry all four to our table and we didn’t want to stand at the bar. Matt did a great job of remembering me each time I came back, and helping me keep track of what we had had. I’m not sure how he did it, with the crowd around the bar.
I’ll list the wines in the order in which I tasted them, indicating which were in our guests’ tasting with an *.
- 2020 Reisling* $21.95
Reislings can vary in their level of sweetness, which is why I rarely buy one I haven’t tasted, and this one is definitely on the side of sweeter. Our guest compared the taste to “sucking on a lollipop.” I smell honeysuckle; she tastes peach and butterscotch.
- 2020 Sauvignon Blanc $21.95
This is a light, dry sauv, with lots of citrus. I say lemon/lime, and my tasting buddy says more on the lime-y side.
- Windmill Red * $18.95
Yuk. This smells like dirt—and not the somewhat pleasant petrichor smell—and tastes worse. It has no depth and an unpleasant taste. None of us wants to drink it, so I return the glass to the bar, where Matt very kindly replaces it with a red he hopes we’ll like better, for no extra charge.
- 2020 Pinot Grigio $21.95
Finally, a wine we like. This has a pleasantly peachy flavor, with lemon at the end.
- 2019 Pinot Meunier * $26.95
Matt gave us this as a replacement, probably thinking of my friend’s penchant for sweet wines. “Shades of Manischevitz,” is the comment. Yes, I agree, this tastes very like grape juice.
- 2018 Merlot $21.95
We have a brief discussion of merlot, and how it is so popular on the North Fork. This is a fairly typical merlot, with some nice cherry flavor and good mouthfeel. Nothing special, but drinkable.
- 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon * $21.95
“Not as good as the merlot,” is our consensus, “but okay.” It is dry, with a hint of tannins, and some dark fruit flavor.
- 2019 Pinot Noir $38.95
I get a pleasant bramble aroma and taste, with very soft tannins. I can see how someone who is put off by big reds would find this pleasant. Just okay.
- 2020 Aphrodite * $21.95
Save this for last, counsels Matt. Right. It is, after all, a dessert wine, and comes in a slim, pretty 375 ml. bottle featuring a picture of the goddess of love. But we don’t love it. It’s too sweet even for my sweet-loving guest. It tastes like a sugary fruit salad, though I guess if you paired it with foie gras or walnuts it would be tolerable. The menu suggests pouring this gewürztraminer wine over vanilla ice cream. Yes, it is that sweet.
Reasons to visit: you need a place that welcomes dogs and/or outside food; you are with a group of bachelorettes; the pinot grigio and the merlot; you like sweet wine.