“Have you decided which wine you want to start your tasting with?” we were asked by the third server in about 10 minutes as we studied the lengthy menu. We had not, though we welcomed the attention because on our last two visits we had felt rather neglected. This time the tasting room was practically empty, most likely because we had decided to come on a Friday rather than a weekend day. The last time we tried to come to Osprey’s we couldn’t even find a place to park.
It’s not hard to see why Osprey’s is popular. The tasting room is large and airy, with ample outdoor seating where you can bring a picnic or buy a snack from their limited menu. Mellow music of the Frank Sinatra type was on the sound system, but they often have live music. In fact, for the summer they have live music on Friday nights from 5-8, and they suggest you “pack your dinner or snack.” In addition, they offer many different wines at reasonable prices with varying taste profiles. The tasting menu lists ten whites, nine reds, and five “reserve” wines. A flight consists of three tastes for $8 or five for $12. We decided to do two consecutive tastings, one of whites and then one of reds, of five tastes each.
Though the servers were pleasant and attentive, they offered only minimal comments on the wines, even when we engaged them in conversation, though one of them had more extensive discussions with us about wine preferences. We did get some help on where to start our tasting, since we wanted to try the Pinot Gris from the Reserve menu. She advised we start there, so we did, and she was correct.
- 2014 Pinot Gris Reserve $20
The aroma is lovely and flowery, like honeysuckle and orange blossom. We taste crisp pineapple and tangerine. The menu informs us that the wine is aged six months “sur lies,” so we expect a bit more depth, but this is a light wine and an easy summer sipper. (Sur lies—or lees—means the wine sits on the sediment that falls out of the juice, I’ve been told, and should lead to a more complex taste.) It was a good place to start our tasting.
- 2014 Fumé Blanc $15
This is actually 100% sauvignon blanc, fermented in oak, so you get that vanilla aroma from the wood. I also taste a bit of vanilla. Again, this is a light white, with less of the citrus you get from a steel-fermented sauvignon blanc.
- 2014 “White Flight” Edelzwicker $15
I’m not sure why the menu calls this White Flight, but I bet it’s so that people don’t have to try to pronounce Edelzwicker! In any event, people should try this blend of 87% pinot gris, 8% gewürztraminer, and 5% riesling. The menu describes it as an Alsatian blend; I describe it as delicious. The aroma includes bread dough or yeast and spice—perhaps nutmeg. The wine has all sorts of interesting flavors, with nice fruit and just a slight touch of sweetness. In need of whites for summer meals, we buy two bottles.
- 2012 Gewürztraminer $17
Although our server describes this wine as dry, I find it a bit sweet for me, though that sweetness would make it a good match for spicy food. The aroma is intriguing, and after saying apple, ginger, and “heavy,” we settle on apple cider doughnut. The taste is quite fruity, and not exactly what we expected in a gewürztraminer.
- Cuvée Osprey Sparkling $25
For our last white we decide to try their sparkling wine, made from 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir, using the “Méthode Champenoise,” and served in a proper champagne flute. “Candy wine,” says my husband. I agree. Dump.
- Richmond Creek Red Blend $12
We get a clean glass for the reds, and I clear my palate with some crackers sitting in a basket on the bar. 42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot: in other words, a Left Bank Bordeaux blend. We’re always on the lookout for inexpensive reds for our frequent pasta dinners, so we decide to begin our red tasting by trying one of their line of less-expensive wines. It smells good, of dark fruits and plums, and tastes quite nice, too. I would buy this one, though I have to say it has no depth or tannins. Still, it is a pleasant sipper and would go with a simple pasta dinner, and is quite a bargain for Long Island reds–and I do like to support the local wineries!
- 2010 Cabernet Franc $20
Like many Long Island wines, this one blends merlot with the dominant grape, in this case 88% cabernet franc plus 12% merlot. The aroma combines spice, pepper, and a mellow tobacco, and the taste has lots of dark fruits plus a touch of black olive. It would go well with, for example, lamb chops with fresh herbs.
- 2012 Carménère $24
We get another clean glass to try this wine, the only Carménère on the North Fork. I’m always interested to try new tastes. 2012 was a pretty good year, and this is a pretty good wine. The menu describes it as “jammy”; though I’m not sure I agree, it is a rich red with some nice tannins that could stand up to steak.
- 2012 Malbec $24
So here is a perfect illustration of the necessity of trying different vintages. The last time we were at Osprey’s in February of 2015 we bought two bottles of the 2010 Malbec, which we quite enjoyed. This time, though the wine is not bad, we are not moved to buy it. It has nice blueberry and pepper aromas and is a pleasantly dry red, but lacks the depth of the 2010.
- 2012 Petite Verdot $35
Even though Petite (or often petit) Verdot is most often used as a part of a blend, I find I tend to like it by itself. It has a beautiful dark color and tends to be fruity and jammy and big. This one does not disappoint, though I think it might get better with age, as it is mouth-puckering dry. (I know, I don’t like sweet wines; now I’m complaining about dry. As the Greeks say, moderation in all things.)
Reasons to visit: wide variety of wines at reasonable prices; large pleasant tasting room and outdoor area; the Edelzwicker, the Gewürztraminer, the Cabernet Franc, the Carménère, the Petite Verdot; small selection of wine-related gifts; Friday night live music and BYO food. However, be aware that in season on the weekends it can get very crowded.