Roanoke Vineyards has a tasting room conveniently located on Love Lane in Mattituck, so you can browse the shops before or after your tasting. The shops include the excellent Love Lane Cheese Shop, the Sweet Shop, a toy store, a yarn store, an art gallery/framing store, a pet accessory store, a dress shop, Orlovsky’s Hardware store, Lombardi’s Market, and several restaurants. We decided to celebrate having seen a 70% solar eclipse with a wine tasting, while several members of our party (two of whom were too young to drink) cruised the shops. By the way, although there is parking on Love Lane, there is also ample free parking in the town lot to the west of the street.
The tasting room is small but attractive, and is augmented in warm weather by an enclosed patio in the back. We stood at the bar, which allowed us to chat with the very personable server. The menu offered two main options: The Summer Flight, of four wines for $14, or the Special Flight, of three wines for $12. The three of us decided to share one of each. The wines from the Special Flight are marked with an *. We also noted that the tasting room sells bottles of wine from two South Fork wineries—Channing Daughters and Wölffer Estates—and Red Hook. Good to know, since it is sometimes hard to find their wines in stores.
- 2016 Roanoke Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc $26
We started out with this steel fermented white, tart and spicy with some creaminess. We had an amusing discussion with the server over the aroma of cat pee, which I would also describe as the smell you sometimes get when you have kept flowers in water for too long. Fortunately, the wine does not taste like the smell.
- *2016 R.V. The Wild $22
Wild refers to the use of “wild,” or indigenous yeast, or in other words the yeast that just occurs naturally, rather than a purchased yeast. I would imagine that it takes some courage to do this, since you risk that the wine might not come out well. Happily, this chardonnay did, with an aroma of gooseberry and a rather nutty taste—as in it tastes like nuts. We all like it, and our son-in-law buys a bottle to take home.
- 2016 Infinite Possibility $22
This one is also delicious, a blend of 66% chardonnay, 25% sauvignon blanc, 5% viognier and 5% albariño. We taste pineapple and honeydew in this steel fermented white. Our relative notes that this is the type of wine, “I could drink all day.” Perfect summer white.
- *2014 Single Acre Merlot $45
All the grapes for this merlot come from one particular acre, so it has a limited production, and all the pruning, etc., is done by hand. It has the typical merlot cherry aroma and flavor. Nice, but not worth a fuss.
- Colorfield $26
Extra! Noting my note-taking, and our engagement with the wines, the server says we need to try this one, a blend of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and pinot blanc that is not on the menu. It is light and dry, and, we agree, another wine one could sip “all day.”
- 2015 R.V. ARC $34
Arc? Why? The server is not sure why this blend of 72% estate cabernet franc and 28% merlot has this name, but by the next wine, we have a theory. In any event, this is a dry, pleasant red that would go well with burgers. It has just a touch of cherry taste, plus blackberry and blueberry.
- *2014 Prime Number $59
Okay, there is a definite theme of mathematic-inspired names. The server notes that a retired teacher works for the winery, writing copy for the menu and helping come up with names. We theorize that the teacher must have been a math teacher, and our son-in-law buys a bottle for his father, who is both a retired math teacher and an oenophile. Perfect! We decide that he should cellar this wine, which has the types of tannins that make us think it would age well, though now it is “too tight” and “closed.” A blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon and 18% merlot, it had some interesting layers of flavor. I’d like to taste it in a few years (hint!).
- 2014 R.V. Cabernet Sauvignon $45
And here’s another wine that we decide would benefit from some aging—and we buy a bottle to store in our cellar. The aroma is slightly earthy, but mainly plummy, as is the taste. We tell our companion about how early on so many of the wines out here tasted earthy or barnyard-y, a trait the winemakers seem to have succeeded in ameliorating.
Reasons to visit: you want to do some shopping on Love Lane and need a respite; The Wild, Infinite Possibility, Prime Number, Cabernet Sauvignon; the ability to buy wines from Channing Daughters, Wölffer Estates, and Red Hook; a pleasantly intimate tasting room.