Clovis Point: First of the New Year January 4, 2019
All the leaves are gone from the vines, leaving the rows looking like lines of bent-legged dancers. For our first winery of the year, we decided to return to Clovis Point on a Friday afternoon. The tasting room was empty the entire time we were there, but on weekends, when they feature live music and artist talks, it is livelier.
Artist talks? Yes, every six weeks the winery invites an artist to come in and hang their works, setting aside one day when the artist can come in and talk to the people assembled there about the art. (Check their web site for times and performers.) We admired this week’s art, large photographs of natural scenery by Leonardo Vatkin, as we perused the menu.
The menu offers four options: Cold, $18 for four whites and a rosé; Red, $12 for three reds; Complete, $28 for all of Cold and Red combined; and Premium, three of their best reds (one is actually a port) for $5 per taste. We decided to share one Complete, which was plenty of wine for us both.
As we sipped and chatted, we also admired the roomy tasting room, still decorated with lights and poinsettias for the holidays. There’s also a large porch area off to one side, which is enclosed with plastic windows for the winter. They have a menu of snacks, which we only realized when our tasting was almost over and I happened to turn over the wine menu. Had our server pointed it out, we might have bought something. I was also surprised that she didn’t try to promote their wine club, which often happens when we reveal that we are locals.
- 2017 Sauvignon Blanc $29
This is a somewhat typical North Fork sauvignon blanc, which is not a bad thing. They say you should drink local wines with local foods, and this would go perfectly with a plate of Peconic Bay oysters. With aromas of minerals and rocks and tastes of green apple, lemon/lime, and minerals, this is a pleasantly refreshing white.
- 2015 Chardonnay $25
Although this is simply called chardonnay, it has 3% gewürztraminer, which adds a note of complexity. Steel fermented, it has a lemon drop candy aroma with a touch of funkiness. The taste also has some citrus, plus lots of pineapple and a bit of nutmeg. They recommend pairing it with melted brie. Sounds good to me. A popular party snack used to be melted brie coated with sliced almonds. Hmmm…
- 2016 Black Label Chardonnay $28
Although this is partially oaked, it is only 30% French oak fermented, so it is not too oaky. It smells like thyme honey, with a touch of something vegetal, plus some butterscotch. I think it would taste better with food, but my tasting buddy comments on its “freshness.” We like its combination of lemon zest and just a touch of butter. By the way, in a classy touch, our server rinses our glass with a bit of each new wine, so as not to contaminate the taste with the previous one.
- 2017 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $35
Oh, guess what, this is barrel fermented (I miss one closed winery’s creative nomenclature.). Although the aroma is VERY butterscotchy, the taste is not as buttery as I had feared. Instead, it is a comparatively light oaked chard, with tastes of honey and pineapple, balanced with citrus. Roast chicken with gravy, is what I’m thinking.
- 2017 Rosé $22.50
Made from 100% cabernet franc, this has a strong aroma of strawberry shortcake. My husband jokes that the smell is “presumptuous.” However, the taste is not super fruity. In fact, we agree that blindfolded, not seeing the pretty light pink color, you might not guess this is a rosé. It does finish with that characteristic strawberry taste, after initial impressions of minerality and citrus. I often like to pair rosés with Chinese food, but I think this would go better with charcuterie.
- 2014 Merlot $29
Now we get a fresh glass for the reds, starting with a wine listed simply as merlot, but which is 85% merlot, plus 8% cabernet franc, 2% syrah, 2% malbec, 2% petit verdot, and 1% cabernet sauvignon. The first thing that strikes me about this wine is the aroma, which is so strongly perfumed that I might be tempted to dab it behind my ears. Instead, we sip, and discover, in addition to the expected cherry taste, lots of tannins. Although this is already four years old, I think it might need more aging. The tasting notes assert it has an “unforgettable velvety finish.” We agree that “velvety” is not a word we would choose.
- 2015 Cabernet Franc $35
Again, this is a bit of a blend, 96% cabernet franc, 3% cabernet sauvignon, and 1% petit verdot. We sniff and get blueberries and a funky forest floor, mossy smell. The taste is pleasant, with, in contrast to the merlot, not a lot of tannins, and tastes of purple plums and other fruit. Though it is not complex or deep, it is good, and could go with a steak or lamb chops.
- 2015 Syrah $34 for 500 ML (a small bottle)
88% syrah, 10% merlot, and 2% cabernet sauvignon. Our server explains that this comes in a small bottle because they “don’t grow much” syrah. My tasting pal jokes that it “tastes like wine,” but I get what he means. It has sort of a generic red wine taste, with some tannins and a hint of pepper at the end. The aroma is a bit funky, with some pine. Though again not deep, it is good, and would go well with short ribs or other fatty meats. After this, the server asks if we want to buy a taste of any of the premium wines, but we decline, and decide, though we liked everything, not to buy any. Like many small wineries (they only have ten acres, and buy some grapes from other North Fork vineyards), they lack economy of scale, so their prices are a bit high for what you get. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, more consolidation of wineries happens.
Reasons to visit: pleasant tasting room; live music many weekends plus art shows; good wines, especially the sauvignon blanc, the Black Label Chardonnay, the merlot; if I were to get a glass to sip during a performance, I would get the cabernet franc, which is very drinkable on its own.