December 15, 2021
As we drove up to Pugliese Vineyards, we admired the vine-wrapped pergola, and reminisced about a trip to the Puglia region of Italy. While there, we stayed in a Masseria, actually a lovely resort located on a farm, and ate delicious fresh food and drank some good wines. Unfortunately, only two of the wines we tried here lived up to our memories.
The tasting room was empty on this warm December Wednesday, except for two members of the Pugliese family who were busy preparing gift baskets with their signature hand-painted wine glasses and bottles of wine. We were immediately ushered into another space, where many little metal tables that seem to have escaped from someone’s garden were set up. “We’re offering table service now,” we were informed, as we were handed several menus. One was for the wines currently on offer for tastings, another gave the prices of the bottles with some information on each wine, and the third was for foods on offer. Since we had just had lunch, we were not interested in cheese and crackers, so we just perused the wine list.
A tasting consists of any four wines from their list for $20, but since there were 23 wines on the list, we decided to order two tastings, so we could sample more of their offerings. The tastes came in little plastic cups, and I’m not sure if it was because of the vessel, or because the wines were all too cold, or if they are just like that, but most of the wines had little or no aroma. The pour was generous enough that we only emptied two of the glasses. Our server wrote the name of each wine on the cups with black marker, which was fortunate, as you will see.
Pugliese is one of the vineyards that does a brisk business with limos in the summer, when their pretty grounds are generally teeming with crowds. They also offer a roster of live music performances. On the back of the price list we noted some deals, especially an offer of any six wines (excepting ports and sparklers) for $69. Good deal, about which more later.
- 2012 Blanc de Noir $25.99
This sparkling wine provided an auspicious start to our tasting. Made from pinot noir grapes, it has a slight pink tinge, and a tasty, toasty, taste of pears. Very nice.
- 2015 Blanc de Blanc $25.99
Tooth-achingly cold, this wine seems to have hardly any taste, though when we circle back to it, we get green apple. It is crisp and refreshing, but a more or less generic sparkling wine.
- 2016 Pinot Grigio $17.99
I generally like pinot grigios, or their French cousin, pinot gris, but not this one. It has an unpleasant metallic tinge to it. My drinking buddy says it tastes like it came straight from the tap—the water tap.
- 2017 Veronica’s Rosé $17.99
Like many rosés, this has a light pink color, and a slight taste of strawberry. Unfortunately, it also has a slightly unpleasant metallic edge.
- 2014 Sangiovese $16.99
We move on to the reds, and find this one drinkable, a decent pizza wine, though it is rather light. My husband opines, paraphrasing Gertrude Stein, that there is “no there there.”
- 2015 Merlot Reserve $16.99
Perhaps they have made use of a “flavor extractor,” we joke, since this is an extremely light merlot, lacking most of the deep cherry flavor one usually gets with North Fork merlots. As my tasting pal notes, you can’t tell the players without a score card—or in other words, there’s not enough taste to tell what they are.
- 2019 Cabernet Franc $16.99
Whew. This one is more to our liking, a pleasantly dry red with some hints of spice and berry. It would be fine with food, though we are not much interested in sipping it on its own.
- 2015 Sunset Meritage $34.99
Finally! Another wine we like. A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, it is a very drinkable red, smooth, with pleasant berry flavors. But is it worth $35 a bottle (I hate that whole 99 cents thing.)? Our server makes an appearance, and I ask her if this is included in the 6/$69 offer. Yes, it is. Okay then. We will take six of these! We save about $140. And have a perfectly acceptable wine for everyday drinking. When we order it, our server makes some comment about the holidays coming, and I laugh and say, we drink wine every day!
Reasons to visit: pretty outdoor area for the warm weather, though you are also liable to encounter a crowd; the Blanc de Noir and the Sunset Meritage; some good deals on buying six or twelve bottles; they allow dogs outside; you can buy as a gift a wrapped set of two hand-painted glasses and a bottle of wine; they also sell very attractive large photographs of the North Fork.