October 13, 2022
The sky was threatening rain, so I was glad I was able to park just steps from the back door of Roanoke’s Love Lane wine shop in the roomy parking lot off Pike Street. Roanoke has two tasting rooms, but the one at the vineyard is for members only. However, all are welcome to their Love Lane venue, a small but pleasant store front in the midst of Love Lane’s shops. Love Lane, by the way, is a great destination for foodies, since in one small block you have the terrific Village Cheese Shop, the Sweet Shoppe and its gourmet chocolates, Ammirati’s sandwich restaurant with its many choices, Lombardi’s Italian market, North Fork Donut Company, and Love Lane Kitchen, where the lines outside prove its popularity. Not to mention, just around the corner, Agora, a Greek market, and Good Food, where I get empanadas.
Despite all these offerings on Love Lane, we and our guests had just had lunch at CJ’s Grill, in the Mattituck Marketplace, where the service was a bit slow, but the food was delicious and the servings were generous. This was fortunate, since the pour at Roanoke is also generous, and it was good to have a well-lined stomach. The tasting menu just has one flight listed for non-club members, of four wines for $16. We liked them all so much, and the price was so reasonable, that I bought one each of all four wines, something I have never done before.
Roanoke does have a well-shaded patio in back, where we would have sat if the weather had cooperated. However, it had turned chilly, so our party of five voted to sit inside. We had the room to ourselves, which was nice, and our server and a friend of his who was hanging out at the bar helped us push two small tables together and rearrange the chairs so we were quite comfortable. Each couple shared a tasting, with the designated driver supplied with a glass of water (which we all also got).
As I was paying for our tastings and bottles, I noticed a small list of cheeses and snacks, but I forgot to ask about their policy for bringing in food. I’ll assume dogs are probably allowed on the outside patio, but I would call and ask before coming. By the way, Roanoke also carries Wölffer Estate wines, including their very popular rosé, Summer in a Bottle.
As we sipped, one of our guests asked how this year had been, and our server told us that it looked likely to be a very good year for the harvest, as grapes enjoy the hot dry weather we had for most of the summer. Something to look forward to!
- 2021 Sauvignon Blanc $26
This is a steel fermented wine, with a bit of that mineral aroma steel-fermented wines get, plus a lovely floral scent. We all like the crisp, lemon-lime taste, with more depth than many sauvignon blancs. This is a very drinkable wine, and would be good with food, like a lobster roll.
- 2021 The Wild $23
What’s so wild about this? It uses wild yeast, which cedes some control over the result to nature, rather than using commercial yeasts. Channing Daughters also uses wild yeasts—those occurring naturally in the air and soil—for their L’Enfant Sauvage. As a result, the taste of the wine can vary from year to year. This one worked out well. A clone of chardonnay, with some muscat, it is steel-fermented, but is softer than some steel chards. Instead of citrus, it has a toasted nut flavor and a long finish. Our guests buy two bottles.
- 2020 > (Greater Than) $25
Why is the name of this Bordeaux-style blend the mathematical symbol for greater than? There’s a story behind it. Originally, this was called Bond, but it turned out a California winery also had a wine called Bond—a very high-end wine—and they had copyrighted the name. Uh-oh. So Roanoke asked its wine club members for alternative names, and someone came up with the idea of greater than, as in greater than the sum of its parts. And indeed it is. This is a blend of 67% cabernet franc, 19% merlot, and 14% cabernet sauvignon. The aroma includes cherries (likely from the merlot) and spice. I say nutmeg. The tasting menu compares it to a Briermere cherry tart. It’s not sweet, but it is soft, with no tannins, so it’s surely a drink-now wine. I’d have it with mac and cheese—maybe the mac and cheese from Meats Meat, also in Mattituck, just around the corner on Main Road.
- 2020 Marco Tulio $28
There’s a story behind the name of this Bordeaux blend as well. It is named for the father of one of the founders, who lived to be 99 years old, and died just short of his 100th birthday. His photo adorns the bottle. This one has much more of the cherry aroma and flavor, not surprising, given that this blend is 66% merlot, 21% cabernet franc, and 13% cabernet sauvignon. This is drier than >, with some slight tannins. I taste tart plums and a little spice. I think I’d pair it with spaghetti carbonara.
Reasons to visit: cozy tasting room conveniently located in the midst of Love Lane’s food mecca; all four of the tasting menu wines; a place to buy Wölffer Estate wines.