September 30, 2021
Our friends were coming to visit us for the first time since before the pandemic began, so we were eager to spend some time together. Often, we’ve done a tasting and then gone out to dinner, but this time we decided to combine a tasting and lunch. I’ve been wanting to try the pizzas from Little Oak Wood Fired Kitchen, within Jamesport Vineyard, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I went online and made a reservation, which required a $5 deposit on my credit card per person (promptly refunded when we arrived), for 1:30 on Thursday, the last day of September. It was a typical fall day, warm in the sun and chilly in the shade, so we planned to sit outside. However, shortly after being seated, we decided it was too chilly and decamped for a cozy table in an alcove within the tasting room. The cheerful and attentive server quickly adjusted to our change. The outside area was always very pleasant, and now it is really attractive, with more seating and pretty flower beds, so I was sorry not to sit out there, but we had a fine time inside, where we had the room mostly to ourselves. (Outside there were a number of groups of people, including some children.)
We were handed two menus, one for wine and the other for food (the full menu is only available Thursday-Sunday). I immediately noticed on the wine menu that our favorite Jamesport white, the Albariño, was sold out, as was our favorite red, Mélange de Trois. Rats. Our friends prefer whites, and I wanted to try the reds, so we each got a tasting of four wines, for $26, and they got whites and we got reds. Then we asked for extra glasses so we could share tastes. That does mean that we did not taste them in the recommended order, but we were served glasses of ice water, which served to cleanse our palates between tastes.
The food menu offers nine different pizzas, with options of additional toppings. Our friends went with the traditional Margherita ($20), simply sauce, basil, and fresh mozzarella, while we opted for the Fun Guy ($24), topped with mushrooms (fungi, get it?), shallots, spinach, etc. Both came with thin crusts, blistered around the edges, and were very tasty. We also got an order of burrata and prosciutto to share to start with, which was delicious, though we had to request a knife so we could share it. It sat atop a crispy slice of toasted sourdough bread. They have some other intriguing options, like charred octopus, which I’d like to try some other time.
We were having so much fun with our friends, sharing stories of the past year or so, reminiscing about the past, that I have to confess my tasting notes are not as thorough as usual. However, in general, all the wines were drinkable, but, alas, as is so common on the North Fork, somewhat high priced for the quality. Here are the wines, in no particular order:
*2018 East End Cabernet Franc $32
Unlike most reds, this one is fermented in steel rather than oak, which makes it a very light, clean-tasting wine. This is a good red for someone who is not fond of reds. Our server noted that it tastes more like a pinot than a cab franc.
- 2020 Estate Sauvignon Blanc $37.75
Like most North Fork sauvignon blancs, this is citrusy and dry, a good accompaniment for oysters or clams.
- 2019 East End Field Blend White $32.50
As I explained to our friends, the name field blend usually means that the grapes were all grown in the same field. This blend of 32% sauvignon blanc, 32% riesling, 30% chardonnay and 6% albariño was our mutually agreed-upon favorite of the day. It has a pleasant aroma of honeysuckle, and is both dry and fruity, with some tastes of pear and citrus. This is a white you could drink with almost any chicken or fish dish, or even pork chops.
- East End Syrah $32
Syrah is one of those wines I sometimes like and sometimes do not. This one falls sort of in the middle. Our server informed us it has a bit of sauvignon blanc added in to lighten the taste, which it does, since sometimes syrah can be a bit overwhelming. It has some plum taste, and almost no tannins.
- 2019 “76” Chardonnay $37.80
Before I could ask about the name, our server explained that the “76” refers to the particular clone of the chardonnay grape that is used in this wine, in contrast to the other chardonnay on the menu. They age this in neutral oak barrels, which I explained means barrels that have been used before, so that they impart less of an oaky taste. I liked this, though in general I prefer steel-aged chards, and found it pleasant, with some tropical fruit taste.
- 2019 Estate Merlot $35
Except for the price, I would characterize this as a good pizza wine, again, fairly light, dry, and slightly tannic. If I came here to have a pizza and a glass of wine, this is the one I would choose.
- 2019 “95” Chardonnay $39.27
Ever have Werther’s butterscotch candy? That’s what this wine reminded me of. Too oaky for me!
- 2019 Estate Cabernet Franc $35
Unlike the earlier cab franc we had, this one is aged in oak, which gave it some nice tannins, but I wish it had more fruitiness.
Reasons to visit: good lunch place (no outside food allowed), with excellent thin-crust pizzas and an interesting menu of other snacks; pretty outside garden area, with plenty of room for children to run around; the Field Blend White, the Estate Merlot, and the two wines that were sold out, the albariño and the Mélange de Trois.