After about nine years of having a tasting room on Peconic Lane, having taken over the Ackerly Ponds winery, the Sannino family has built their own tasting room on Route 48 (a.k.a. Middle Road or Sound Avenue). It is a very attractive space, with two bars and ample seating, plus a pleasant patio out back, where we sat for our tastings. They bring the tasting to your seat, all together on a labeled tray, so it is a relaxing place to sit and sip. The few parties who were there on this sunny September Thursday seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Unfortunately, we did not care for most of the wines. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with my taste buds today, but my tasting buddy had the same reaction. I wondered whether they had paid too much attention to the planting of new vines and the building of the new tasting room, and not enough to the making of the wine. We plan to return in a year or so, hoping for better results, since we have in the past met Anthony Sannino and thought he was a nice guy.
Because a tasting consists of six wines for $20, and there are eleven wines, we decided to try them all. When I discussed with the server what to do with the twelfth spot, she suggested that she could give us a taste of their port-like dessert wine, which sounded like a great idea. In general, we found the whites too light, almost watery, and the reds without tannins or depth, but I did like the port.
They do not allow outside food, and have a little menu of cheeses, chocolates, or nuts A nice touch: they bring a bottle of water and glasses to your table.
1. 2018 Semi-Chard $18
A 50/50 mix of semillon and chardonnay, this has a sweet aroma of flowers and honey, but the taste is flat, tart, and almost watery.
2. 2018 Sauvignon Blanc $25
The aroma is appropriately lemony and pineapple-y, but again the taste is mono-dimensional. Light.
3. 2018 Chilly Day Chardonnay $28
Although this is steel fermented, it smells almost woodsy. I guess the term is forest floor. It’s a fairly standard North Fork chard, though it lacks fruitiness. (When I mentally compare it with our favorite East End chard, Scuttlehole Chardonnay from Channing Daughters, I realize how much better Scuttlehole is.)
4. 2018 Fresco White Blend $22
Shortly after we tried this, our server stopped by to see what we liked so far, so I asked her (not having anything nice to say) what the blend consisted of. Chardonnay, semillon, and sauvignon blanc, she told us. I had thought it might have a touch of gewürztraminer, since the aroma has some of that floral quality and the wine has a touch of sweetness. This is the best so far, with some pleasant citrus flavor and a good blend of tart and sweet.
5. 2018 Bianca Dolce Rosé $20
The smell reminds me of red candy, and so does the taste—or strawberry shortcake. I find it has a pleasant acidity (the quality that makes your mouth water), but my husband says it is “just sweet.”
6. 2015 Prima Rossa Red Wine $18
This is their inexpensive, everyday blended red. We don’t care for it, finding it actually rather harsh. My husband characterizes it as “red fruit juice.”
7. 2015 Syrah Naturale $22
The menu informs us that this is made with “indigenous yeast and minimal winemaker influence.” We smell black raspberries. The taste is soft, with some fruit and a touch of funkiness. It’s okay to drink.
8. 2015 Merlot $27
We’ve been drinking a merlot we get at the liquor store labeled North Fork Merlot, from a vineyard in Cutchogue, but we don’t know who makes it. However, we buy it a lot for everyday drinking because it is inexpensive and delicious, with lots of cherry flavor but not sweet. This wine does have the cherry smell of a typical merlot, but the best we can say about the taste is that it is “not unpleasant.” I get tart plum taste.
9. 2015 Spotlight Petit Verdot $40
Every time we come across a winery that makes a straight petit verdot, they make a big deal about how it is usually used for blending, but here it is on its own. The same is true at Sannino, where the name indicates that they’ve put a “spotlight” on the petit verdot, combined with just 15% cabernet sauvignon. The aroma is nice, of red fruit and dark berries, but once again we find the wine uninteresting and a bit thin.
10. 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon $38
Another red with a nice aroma but no depth or tannins. My tasting buddy says it tastes like “red grapes.” How strange.
11. 2015 Francesco $45
According to the menu, they only make this wine, a four grape blend named for Mr. Sannino’s dad, when they have a good year. 2015 was a good year on the North Fork, with plenty of hot dry weather and a long growing season, so we have hopes. Drinkable, but, alas, nothing special, though the aroma is promising. “Everything has nothing,” says my husband, and I have to agree.
12. Dessert Wine (Port)
It does taste like a port, nicely sweet with good fruitiness, and would be lovely to sip after a meal, though my tasting pal finds it too sweet. I don’t know what they call it or how much it costs, because I didn’t see that information.
Reasons to visit: nice tasting room with a pleasant outdoor patio; if I had to drink a glass of their wine, I’d choose the Fresco, the Merlot, or the port, a.k.a. “fortified dessert wine.” One cute note—the single occupancy rest rooms are labeled “Saints” and “Sinners.” Which to choose?!