Blog Updates April, 2019

Blog Updates     April, 2019

Change is the one constant, and the North Fork is no exception.  If you rely on my old entries for recommendations, you may arrive at a winery or restaurant and find it no longer exists, or has changed.  So, in no particular order, here are some changes:

Peconic Winery has closed, and the property is for sale.  (Not to be confused with Peconic Cellar Door, on Peconic Lane, which is lovely.)

Vineyard 48 is also permanently closed, but if you read my last entry on them you wouldn’t be going there anyway.

Southold Farm + Cellar closed, alas, due to issues with the town of Southold.  The owners have moved to Texas.

Comtesse Thérèse closed a few years ago.  A couple of restaurants have come and gone, and the one that is currently there, Il Giardino, has management issues they need to resolve if they are to stay in business.  For example, we got there with a reservation for 6 PM and found a scene of total chaos, with no one seeming to know when we could be seated.  We left, and had a calm and delicious meal at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn.

Croteaux is still making wine, but at the moment their lovely garden is closed, again due to issues with Southold town.  They are hoping to reopen.  Meanwhile, you can order wine through their website or buy it at Vintage, the liquor store in the Mattituck Shopping Center.  (I highly recommend joining their club.  Just sign up with your telephone number and then get great discounts.)

Speaking of Mattituck, Crazy Fork is gone.  Sadly, they morphed from being a candidate for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives to needing the work of Restaurant Impossible.  Then they closed.  Two places have opened in its place.  Mattitaco is primarily a take-out place, offering delicious and creative tacos.  East on Main has a bar and restaurant where they serve American classics like fried chicken and meat loaf.  Good place to bring kids.

Salamander’s in Greenport has closed.  A new restaurant will take their place.  Goodbye delicious fried chicken.

Deep Water has also changed ownership, so I have no idea how the new place will be.

We liked Caci the first time we went there, but less so on subsequent visits.  Though the food is good, it is pricey for what you get and the tables are too crowded together and the noise level is too loud.

Pepi’s in the Port of Egypt marina has closed.  We haven’t tried the new place there.

Martha Clara has changed owners.  In the past, I had recommended it as kid friendly, with animals to feed, but as we drive by it seems the animals are gone.  I would not rely on it as a place to bring kids.

The Coronet in Greenport has changed its name, but seems to have a similar vibe under new ownership.  We haven’t eaten there.

Scrimshaw, also in Greenport, has been replaced by Barba Blanco, and we haven’t tried it.  It is closed in the winter.

On the other hand, since I last mentioned it, we’ve been to American Beech a couple of times and liked it very much.  Cool beachy vibe and delicious seafood dishes.

Empire State Cellars in Tanger Outlet closed.  I’d be sad, except Vintage, our local liquor store, carries a good selection of local wines.

Old Mill Inn is for sale.  Anyone interested in buying a restaurant on the water?

O’Malley’s has new ownership.  The one time we went there it was not good—French fries fried in old oil!—so I don’t know if it has improved. 

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but note also that every year’s vintage may taste different than the year before–which is why I try to visit each place once a year.

Ten Venues for Outdoor Wining

Memorial Day Weekend means summer really is beginning, so I thought this would be the right time to tell you about my favorite places for outdoor sipping on the North Fork.  There is something very civilized about sitting in the sun (or under an umbrella), sipping a lovely chilled white or rosé, or even a well-rounded red, enjoying the warm breezes, possibly snacking on some bread and cheese.  If that experience includes a pretty view over farm fields and vineyards, so much the better.

Almost all of the tasting rooms augment their indoor seating with outdoor areas in the summer, from Jamesport’s capacious lawn to Waters Crest’s two umbrella tables in the parking lot, but some are pleasanter than others.  Following this you will find a list of my favorites, starting with a few I particularly enjoy, and then others in no real order.  I also mention a wine or two I particularly recommend for sipping, but in a few cases it has been a year or more since I went there, so you may not find the same vintages on offer.  Note that some places encourage you to bring your own picnic, while others discourage or forbid it, so I suggest you check the web sites before you go.  The ones which don’t allow you to bring your own snacks generally sell their own.  If you’re putting together a bread and cheese picnic, you won’t do better than Love Lane Cheese Shop in Mattituck, which carries a wide variety of excellent cheeses and baguettes from Tom Cat bakery.  Stop at Harbes for some berries or Wickham for peaches and you’re set.

Shady nook at Croteaux.

Shady nook at Croteaux.

1)       Croteaux

This is absolutely my favorite outdoor tasting area, plus all the wines are perfect for summer sipping.  You go through the tiny tasting room into a tree and flower-filled patio area, with comfortable Adirondack chairs and shady nooks.  Two of my favorite rosés are the Merlot 314 and the Violet, but any of them would work.  I also recommend their snack of goat cheese and baguette.

Adirondack chairs, with their wide arms, are perfect for tastings in Croteaux's yard.

Adirondack chairs, with their wide arms, are perfect for tastings in Croteaux’s yard.

2)      Old Field

If you like a rustic setting, this is the place!  Calico cloths on the tables plus chickens and ducks roaming around the old barns on the property really make you feel you are far from city life.  Though I don’t think any Long Island rosés are better than Croteaux’s, the Cacklin Rosé 09 (probably will be a new vintage by now) was lovely.

3)      Mattebella

Picnic tables and umbrella-shaded tables dot an expansive patio area looking out over the grape vines.  We liked the ‘08 Chardonnay and the ‘08 Old World Blend.  The last time we were there, small snacks accompanied some of the wines on the tasting menu.

Part of the lawn at Jamesport.

Part of the lawn at Jamesport.

4)      Jamesport

Jamesport is the perfect place to come if your group includes children who would like some space to roam around, or even dogs (as long as they are on the leash).  Their large backyard lawn, with a variety of seating or picnic areas, some in shade and others in the sun, is perfect, and they sell thin crust pizzas made in an outdoor stone oven and freshly opened oysters, among other treats.  Their Sauvignon Blanc goes particularly well with oysters.

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard at Pellegrini.

Some red tastings plus a view of the vineyard at Pellegrini.

5)      Pellegrini

Here the outdoor seating varies from pleasant spots out on the lawn or the interior courtyard to a few tables overlooking the vineyard.  What makes this a good place for an outdoor tasting (rather than just a glass of wine) is that they will give you your entire tasting on a tray, carefully labeled, so you can sit and sample at your leisure.  If you’re going for just a glass, we really like their Petit Verdot, which would pair well with brie and baguette.

6)      Paumanok

Paumanok is another place that often features oysters, though not as reliably as Jamesport.  They have a pleasant porch out back of the tasting room which looks out over the vines and fields.  The 2011 Festival Chardonnay was a good match for the oysters, though they may have a new vintage by now.

The deck at One Woman

The deck at One Woman

7)      One Woman

This is a small winery with a small porch which wraps around the tiny tasting room.  You are surrounded by the vines and a large field of grass as you sit and taste.  We found the One Woman Tribute ’11 to be a good sipping wine, and we are in love with the 2012 Grüner Veltliner.

8)      Comtesse Thérèse

This is another winery with a bit of a French accent, and outdoor tastings are in the charmingly disheveled intimate garden behind the Comtesse Thérèse Bistro.  Though the setting is pleasant, we found the service a bit lackluster our last time in the garden, though that could certainly have changed.  The 2011 Chardonnay was a super sipper.

9)      Shinn

Although it was too chilly to sit outdoors on the day we went there, we did admire Shinn’s remodeled outdoor seating area, with comfortable-looking chairs and a nice little snack menu. I’d recommend First Fruit for a sipping wine.

Outdoor area at Shinn

Outdoor area at Shinn

10)   Pugliese

With a pretty little pond and trellis-shaded picnic tables, Pugliese has created a very attractive outdoor seating area.  If it’s not overrun with limo groups, I’d recommend you go there with some cheese and crackers and get the Bella Domenica, a summery red.

Pretty pond at Pugliese

Pretty pond at Pugliese

P.S.  Just visited Mattebella for the first time in two years and their improved outdoor area means they should be added to this post!  (See review for details.)


Comtesse Thérèse February 17, 2013

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It was what Winnie-the –Pooh calls a “blustery day” (This is what happens when you hang out with a 21-month-old.), and we thought we’d check out the Jazz on the Vine program at Jamesport Vineyard.  When we couldn’t find a place to park, we left and headed a little way down the road to Comtesse Thérèse, a combination bistro and winery.  We had only been there in the summer, when the tasting room is a charmingly disheveled back patio, with cast iron furniture and a view of the herb garden (and of the chef as he steps out of the kitchen to pick some herbs), so we weren’t sure what to expect.  The wind blew us around the front and through the door of the restored old house, where we quickly found ourselves in a cozy bar with a friendly and accommodating bartender.  Fortunately, since we had promised our granddaughter music, there was quiet jazz playing in the background.  The four of us settled into a corner of the bar and looked over the menu.  The option of 4 tastes for $8 sounded good, and the bartender intelligently figured out how to give us tastes of 8 wines—four and four—so we could sample a wider selection.  Although we didn’t stay for a meal, we have eaten there in the past and been very pleased with its French bistro-style food and emphasis on local produce.

  1. 2011 Chardonnay                             $13

The bartender starts us all off with their steel-fermented chardonnay, which is on sale.  An aroma of fresh-cut grass heralds a taste of steel and green apple, with some honey notes.  It is surprisingly mellow for an all-steel chard, and a bit unctuous, according to our son-in-law.  Very buyable, which we both accomplish.

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  1. Russian Oak Chardonnay 2009                   $22

Ooh, nice legs, we say.  This chard spends 4 months in oak, and we do detect an oaky aroma.  The flavor is light, with some notes of Meyer lemon—or maybe lemon dots!

  1. 2011 Sauvignon Blanc                                    $28

I think I smell a trace of something metallic as well as the more typical honeysuckle.  Nicely dry and a bit grassy, all we need now is a dozen local oysters!

  1. 2011 Rosé                                                            $22

Well, Croteaux remains the standard of excellence for NoFo rosés.  This one has a nice raspberry aroma, but has not much character and is somewhat monochromatic.  Well chilled on a hot day it might be fine, and the finish is nice.

  1. 2011 Blanc de Noir                                          $24

We like this rosé better, with its apricot aroma and edge of citrus flavor, though it is a bit sweet for our taste.

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  1. 2008 Hungarian Oak Merlot        $24

My notes for this wine are somewhat obscured by a 21-month-old’s “decoration,” but then I gave her a page from my notebook and another pen so she could take notes just like grandma.  Although this wine doesn’t have much aroma, it has a pleasant cherry flavor with some earthiness at first and tannins at the end.

  1. 2007 Aquebogue Estate Merlot                 $25 (for the 08)

Noticing our serious approach to the tasting, the bartender gives us the 07 Merlot rather than the 08 because, he says, it is better.  We do like it.  It has nice fruit with some acidity to add interest.

  1. 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon               $30

This one is a favorite with our daughter and son-in-law, who buy a bottle.  It has aromas and tastes of black fruits, like plums.  It would be good with lamb, because it has enough acidity to cut the fat.

  1. 2007 Canadian Oak Cabernet Sauvignon                               $32

And we prefer this one, and buy a bottle!  This is somewhat heavier than the Estate Cab Sauv, with more complexity and cherry flavors as well.  It would pair well with steak.  The bartender informs us that they are the only winery in the area to use Canadian oak.

Before she opened her own tasting room, we met “Comtesse Thérèse”—actually Tree Dilworth, an attractive young woman—at The Tasting Room, now The Winemaker’s Studio.  We had a delightful conversation with her, and were impressed with her passion for wine, but no, she is not actually a “Comtesse”!

Reasons to visit:  Cozy attractive bar area in the winter, charming garden in the summer; 2011 Chardonnay,2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 06 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 07 Canadian Oak Cabernet Sauvignon; you can go on after the tasting to have a meal in the pretty, intimate bistro.  Oh, and if you want to take notes, they have lots of feather pens.