McCall Wines: Feeling Rustic May 21, 2017


Although they are right off Main Road, when you pull around to the back you feel as though you are in the country.

Although they are right off the Main Road, there is a rustic feeling to the McCall Wines tasting room and property, a sense of peace and quiet—at least when it is not crowded.  Part of this is due to the tasting room itself, located in a former horse barn, with the stables repurposed as tasting alcoves, and the other part is the lawn outside, dotted with picnic tables and adjacent to the vines.


Inside tasting area, in a repurposed horse stall.

On this sunny afternoon, we shared the place with several other couples and small groups.  We could have stood at the bar or sat inside at a table, but we decided that the sun had been making a rare enough appearance that we needed to sit outside and enjoy the pretty day.  Mrs. McCall brought us our tastes, except when we decided to pop in and get them ourselves.  She served them two at a time, in a two-ounce pour that felt quite generous.


Part of the outside area, with a view of the vines.

The menu offers four choices:  Blancs, four whites for $12; Corchaug, four reds for $16; Premium, a mixture of two whites and two reds for $14; and Estate, four of their higher priced wines for $20.  They also offer a small menu of cheese and crackers, and request no outside food on Fridays-Sundays.  We decided to do a shared tasting of the whites and then the Corchaug reds (named for the Native American name for Cutchogue).  We had high hopes for the reds, since McCall had started out only making red wines, but we were also pleasantly surprised by how much we liked the whites.

  1. 2016 Marjorie’s Rosé    $18

Yesterday we attended a Case Club event at Croteaux Vineyards, our standard for North Fork rosés, so we had a recent comparison in mind when we tasted this mostly merlot pink wine.  It was quite different from the two Croteaux wines we had sampled, but fine in its own way.  The aroma had almost as much minerality as strawberry smell, and the taste also balanced minerals and sweetness, though a bit sweeter than we like.  My husband said it reminded him of pancakes with strawberry syrup.  Well, maybe not that sweet.  This is a rosé one could enjoy sipping well-chilled, though I prefer the leaner style of Croteaux.  (The wine is named for Mr. McCall’s mother.)


  1. 2015 Sauvignon Blanc    $24

Mrs. McCall informed us that this was made in the French style, like a Sancerre wine (think sauvignon blanc=Sancerre and chardonnay=Chablis).  Good choice.  Although it did not have much aroma, it had some lovely tastes of citrus and kiwi and maybe gooseberry as well, plus some minerality and even a bit of salt.  Refreshing, was my tasting buddy’s summation.  We liked it.

  1. 2015 Chardonnay Unoaked        $18

This is a pretty typical North Fork steel-fermented chardonnay, with citrus tastes and just a touch of sweetness.  The aroma reminded me of wet rocks, with almost a chemical note.  It’s a fairly tasty steel chardonnay, and might overpower a delicate fish.  However, it would have gone well with the fillets I made the other day which were topped with an anchovy and onion sauce (thank you, Marcella Hazan and Braun’s fish store).

  1. 2014 Chardonnay Reserve          $39

Not surprisingly, the oaked chardonnay smelled like Werther’s butterscotch candy, and tasted rather butterscotch-y as well.  Not my favorite, but I could appreciate that it has layers of flavor.

  1. 2013 Pinot Noir               $30

When I told my husband this was a light red that would pair well with roast chicken, he told me I needed to think of another food pairing.  Okay, I said, pork chops.  This reminded me of a Beaujolais, a picnic wine, though it has a bit of a tannic tingle that makes it a touch more interesting.


These two Pinot Noirs look similar, but taste different.

  1. 2013 Pinot Noir Hillside               $39

When Mrs. McCall brought us our first red tastes, along with fresh glasses, she explained that this one is called “Hillside” because…the grapes are grown on a hillside.  Really.  But that’s not as simplistic as it sounds.  Because of the hilly location, this part of the vineyard has better drainage, which concentrates the flavors of the grapes.  Although it is similar to the other Pinot, the aroma is stronger and the taste features more dark fruit and is somewhat mellower, with a longer finish.  My husband noted that he wasn’t wearing socks, but if he were, they would not have been knocked off by this wine.  Good, but not exciting.


  1. 2012 Merlot Reserve     $24

Does anyone still know what Cheracol is?  It was a cherry-flavored cough syrup I became quite familiar with in my pre-tonsillectomy youth. Fortunately, though this merlot smells like Cheracol, it doesn’t taste like it!  The wine is dry, with lots of tannins, and not a ton of fruit, with a long finish.  We’re thinking it could even use more time to age, and, as my tasting buddy opined, it “shows promise.”  If we had room in the cellar (well, we just bought a case of Croteaux rosé), we might have bought a bottle to keep for a few years.

  1. 2010 Merlot Reserve     $39

2010 has a reputation as a great year on the North Fork, especially for reds, and Mrs. McCall was quite enthusiastic about this wine—deservedly so.  I think the technical term is “yummy.”  The tannins are relatively soft, so my guess is one should drink it now.  The aroma is of cherry tempered by wood, and the taste has lots of complex fruits, while still being dry.  If we had stayed on and ordered some cheese to go with a full glass of wine, this would have been my choice (Instead we went home and sat on our porch with wine—a lovely Meritage from Coffee Pot Cellars–and cheese from Love Lane Cheese shop!).


The tasting barn.

Reasons to visit:  lovely bucolic setting; calm place that limits groups; unusual tasting room; the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2010 Merlot Reserve; nice picnic tables for during the week if you want to bring some snacks.


McCall’s Winery: Vintage Matters 5/2/2015

The tasting barn

The tasting barn

It was a beautiful spring day, so we opted to sit at a picnic table in the sunny yard outside McCall’s tasting barn (and it is a barn, with the horse stalls converted to seating areas) for our tasting.  In the past, we had really liked their wines, especially the reds, so we opted to share two tastings, one of their whites and another of their Estate reds.  We hadn’t been to McCall’s since the summer of 2013, and this visit confirmed what we’ve often thought—that you need to taste each vintage to know whether or not you like a particular wine.  In this case, we were less impressed than we have been in the past.

One of the converted horse stalls used as a seating area

One of the converted horse stalls used as a seating area

The tasting menu offers four options of combinations which let you taste their twelve wines.  Each flight offers four two-ounce tastes:  White Flight for $12, Cellar Master for $12, Premium for $14, and Estate for $16.  As we sipped, we watched children run around picking dandelions and other groups snack on picnics they had brought with them.  Our server was friendly and efficient, and if there were any questions she couldn’t answer she quickly found out the answers for us.

I was wondering why no one on the North Fork makes dandelion wine.

I was wondering why no one on the North Fork makes dandelion wine.

I’ll start with the White Flight.

  1. 2014 Marjorie’s Rosé    $18

Okay, so a rosé is not exactly a white, but it’s not a bad way to start a white flight.  This wine is named for the owner’s mother, and is a very light-colored wine.  Instead of the expected aroma of strawberries, we smelled rising dough, more like a champagne.  The taste was tart and lightly citrusy—“a summer wine,” noted our server.  The end taste was more mineral than citrus, and fairly tart.  “Like a sour candy,” noted my tasting buddy.  Though it was not unpleasant, it was just okay.

  1. 2013 Chardonnay $18

“This is our steel-fermented chardonnay,” said our server, adding, “and another good summer wine.”  Indeed, it is fairly light and citrusy, with again a doughy aroma.  Had it undergone malo-lactic fermentation?  She wasn’t sure.  We guessed yes.  She returned to tell us that indeed it had.  We decided the taste reminded us of the key lime pie my husband had enjoyed the night before at A Lure.  I’m not a fan of key lime pie.

  1. 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée Nicola $24

McCall’s doesn’t grow sauvignon blanc grapes, so this wine is made from grapes from One Woman’s vineyard, and this was the first time McCall’s offered this wine.  Good decision, as this is their best white.  The aroma and taste both remind me of apricots—sort of like apricot fruit leather, with some spice and citrus notes at the end.  It would be good with blue cheese or pasta in a white sauce.  Sippable.

  1. 2013 Chardonnay Reserve $39

No surprises here—this is a typical North Fork oaked chardonnay (nine months in the barrel, we are told), with aromas of vanilla and oak and some fruit tastes as well as some vanilla.  Of course, I say it would go with roast chicken.

mc reds

Now we move on to the Estate Flight of reds.  We are not brought fresh glasses, but we do appreciate that our server has opted to give us two glasses, dividing the taste between us rather than having us share one glass, as we generally do.  I should also note that many of their bottles use twist off caps rather than corks.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir                $28

What a pretty color this wine has—a light red.  We smell blueberries and wet forest ferns, with maybe a touch of barnyard.  Alas, the color is the best aspect of the pinot, since the taste is rather sour and unappealing.  What a disappointment, since my comments on the 2010 pinot noir include “mmmmm.”

The setting feels quite bucolic.

The setting feels quite bucolic.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir Hillside $39

Well, perhaps we’ll like this one better.  It spends about 3-4 weeks longer on the vine and three months longer in the barrel.  Okay, definitely better.  Again a blueberry pie aroma (Which reminds us that tonight we’ll be having a blueberry crunch pie from Briermere.) with a touch of cocoa.  The taste has more fruit and more subtlety, but no depth and a fair amount of tartness.  Again, we’re not loving it.  Also, the reds are all too cold, though that may not be anyone’s fault, as the tasting room is quite chilly.

  1. Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012    $39

Nice aroma—plums, some oak—but with a touch of something metallic.  This wine comes from 30-year-old vines, our server tells us proudly, from a vineyard originally planted by the Gristina family says our server (Does she mean Galluccio?), and though the property is now owned by Macari, McCall’s is using the grapes.  Again, this wine is tarter than one would expect, without enough fruit to balance the dryness.  And though our server enthuses that she really likes this one, we are not pleased with it, especially with the aftertaste.

  1. 2010 Ben’s Blend $54

Finally, a wine we can like.  This is their Bordeaux blend (named for their previous winemaker, who died much too young), though the combination is quite different from the last time we sampled it.  This one is 46% cabernet franc, 25% cabernet sauvignon, and 29% merlot, whereas the 07 Ben’s Blend was 60% merlot and also included some petit verdot.  In any event, we scent aromas of dark fruit, such as purple plums, and taste pleasant fruit, though it is not tannic enough to stand up to a steak.  It would be good with brie and pears.

mc tree bloom

Reasons to visit:  the Cuvée Nicola Sauvignon Blanc, the 2010 Ben’s Blend; a pleasant relaxed setting where kids can run around and you can bring a picnic; the surprisingly elegant rest room (!).  We’ll be back when it is time for a new vintage, hoping the wines are better then, since we really liked them in the past.

The tasting barn viewed through a taste.

The tasting barn viewed through a taste.