Jamesport Vineyards is a great place to go in the summer because they have a huge back yard area. When we were there on Mother’s Day a bunch of kids had started an impromptu baseball game (with a plastic bat), a singer-guitarist played folkie/pop songs, and groups lingered at the picnic tables scattered on the grounds. However, since their tasting policy is “one taste at a time,” it is best to go there when you plan to order a glass of wine—I suggest the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or the Cinq Blanc—and a plate of oysters, rather than go for a tasting if you want to hang out outside. (They start serving oysters soon, when they also fire up the outdoor oven to make flatbreads.)
We did both—a tasting inside at the bar, then a glass each to sip as we relaxed outside. Since our son was with us, we decided to share two tastings, which are $15 for five tastes, chosen from their menu of wines. We coordinated our choices, so you’ll get to read about ten of their wines. There were a few we didn’t get to sample, such as their rosé, which, after being at Croteaux the day before, we decided not to try.
- East End Chardonnay $16.95
90% steel fermented, 10% oak, means that this is a somewhat crisp chardonnay, though it is a tad sweet for us. The aroma is of citrus and roasted pear.
- East End Cinq Blanc $16.95
Cinq means five, and this is a blend of five grapes: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot blanc. The aroma is interesting, as is the taste. We smell a bit of a funky, wet forest smell, and taste kiwi and key lime. We like this wine, and pronounce it “piquant.”
- 2012 Dry Riesling $25.95
Our son was thinking of trying their other riesling, but we persuaded him to try the dry one, as the other is described as sweet. Then when we smelled it we thought we’d be sorry, since the aroma is quite funky and musty. However, it tastes better than it smells, though the taste carries a bit of that funkiness. Mostly it is dry and crisp, with lots of lemon and a touch of wet rock. (Okay, so I’ve never tasted a wet rock, but if you go outside in Manhattan and take a good whiff of the air after a doorman has rinsed the hot sidewalk on a hot summer day, then imagine what that would taste like, you’ll get what I mean.)
- 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc $27.95
Nice. Flowery honeysuckle aroma and a nice mouth feel with a fair amount of fruit, especially barely ripe cantaloupe, make this a good one. You can sense a bit of oakiness.
- East End Cinq Red $16.95
As we switch to reds, we get new glasses, a nice touch. Cinq again refers to five grapes, in this case cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir, and petit syrah. The aroma is quite sweet, like red candy but with a touch of tobacco smokiness. I say it is tart, while my two companions insist on saying sour. Okay, so how about with a rich lasagna made with hot sausage? That would work, they agree.
- 2010 Mattituck Cabernet Franc $30
“Mattituck” refers to their vineyard in that town, and we think it must be a good one. The wine smells delicious—chocolate, tobacco, and ripe plum—and tastes pretty good too, though it is quite tannic. Think about how a strong cup of tea without milk makes your tongue feel…
- 2010 Mélange de Trois $34.95
Ha-ha, we get it, like a ménage à trois only with three wines. 41% cabernet sauvignon, 23% cabernet franc, and 31% merlot is the combo here. Funky aroma again, lots of blackberry tastes, pretty tannic: we like it! It would pair well with lamb or beef stew.
- 2010 MTK Syrah $30
I tend to like syrahs, and this is no exception. Lovely smells of black cherry and spice, tastes of red cherry, cocoa, and a touch of tobacco. I could see this with a nice pork roast. Oh, and MTK is the abbreviation for Mattituck.
- 2007 Jubilant Reserve $34.95
A Bordeaux blend, this wine has 68% cabernet franc, 18% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 2.5% syrah, and 2.5% petit verdot—and a fruity aroma. However, it is surprisingly light, and would not stand up to a big steak. However, I like it, and compare the taste to dried cranberries, which at first surprises my companions and then they nod their heads in agreement.
- 2007 “SIDOR” Syrah Reserve $34.95
We manage to get the very busy server to stop for a moment and explain the name of this wine; “It’s for the name of the farmer who owns the land,” she says, before hurrying off to fill the next glass. Although it is called syrah, this is actually a blend of 62% syrah, 18% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc, 9% merlot, and 2% petit verdot. The smell is…not good. Musty basement, I opine, and they agree. The taste is dry, of cherries, but also a tad funky. Our son likes it but wouldn’t particularly buy it.
After the tasting we each get a glass—the Cinq Blanc for our son (plus he buys a bottle to take home), and the Mélange de Trois for us—and sit outside to savor the beautiful weather, the laid-back scene, the wine, the music, and the company of each other.
Reasons to visit: the lovely back yard area where you can bring a picnic or buy oysters or flatbreads or other snacks; the Cinq Blanc, the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, the Mattituck Cabernet Franc, the Mélange de Trois, the MTK Syrah, the Jubilant Reserve.