Clovis Point: Music and Wine 6/20/15

A visit to a winery is a great way to brighten a rainy day.

A visit to a winery is a great way to brighten a rainy day.

We braved the crowds that had come to the North Fork for the Mattituck Strawberry Festival and the rain that had arrived that afternoon for an excursion to Clovis Point Wines.  Now, if you Google Clovis point you will find yourself looking at arrowheads, and wondering what the connection is.  In fact, Clovis point does refer to a type of arrowhead, examples of which have been found on the North Fork, hence the name.

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The winery nods to the past of the area in another way, housing its tasting room in a converted potato barn, but the wines are thoroughly modern.  The servers alternated between quite friendly and enthusiastic and rather pleasant but business-like.  The bar area was fairly quiet because all the action was outside on the covered porch, where a country and western band was entertaining tables full of people sipping wine and eating snacks, some bought from the winery (a menu features cheeses, sausage, and other small snacks for about $10) and others brought in.  (A sign permits outside food, but requests “no coolers.”)  Once before we had come especially for a musical performance, which we had enjoyed.  Clovis Point describes itself as a “boutique” winery, and a sign outside forbids all limos.

Pretty flowers line the pathway to the door.

Pretty flowers line the pathway to the door.

The menu features five wines for $13 or the three whites for $7 and the two reds for $5.  We opted to share one tasting of all five wines, not actually a bargain!  Due to the tiny pour, we had to be quite judicious in our sharing.  I found the small pour interesting in that the servers rinsed our glass with a bit of the wine we were about to taste each time, a nice touch but it seemed a shame to pour out almost as much as we tasted.

Through the window you can glimpse the porch where the music  listeners are sitting.

Through the window you can glimpse the porch where the music listeners are sitting.

  1. 2014 Stainless Chardonnay         $21

Although it is called chardonnay, this is also 3% gewürztraminer, which we felt contributed a slightly funky note to what is otherwise a fairly typical clean, crisp, lemony steel chard.  It was fine, but we felt would be better with food.

We've not yet tasted the wine.

We’ve not yet tasted the wine.

  1. Rosé $21

In general, we compare all rosés to Croteaux, and find them wanting, but we quite liked this one.  It spends three days on the skins, and so has a deeper red and more intense flavor than many rosés.  This is made from 97% cabernet franc and 3% merlot.  The aroma is typically strawberry and watermelon, with a nice minerality.  The taste also recalls strawberry, and is a touch on the sweet side, but the minerality makes the sweetness work.

  1. 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $27

After ten months in French oak, this wine smells like vanilla and Werther’s candies, but is happily not as sweet as the smell would indicate.  A hint of lemon juice makes this a sippable wine, not as oaky as a California chard.  My tasting pal opines that this is not a challenge to drink.

New glass for the reds

New glass for the reds

  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $35

A blend of 94% cabernet franc, 3% cabernet sauvignon, and 3% merlot, this wine has a somewhat smoky, almost coffee aroma.  The taste has some smokiness to it too, but not obnoxiously so.  Though it is dry and brambly, we think it might do better with more age.

  1. 2010 Vintner’s Select Merlot $45

A Right Bank Bordeaux-style wine, this is a blend of 86% merlot, 7% cabernet sauvignon, 4.5 % cabernet franc, and 3% malbec, says the menu.  If you can add, you’ll note that that adds up to 100.5—and actually, the menu lists the percentage of cab franc as 45%! Oops.  I’m a liberal arts major, says our server as an excuse, and promises to fix the menu right away.  Regardless, this is also a wine that may need more time, as we find it a bit on the thin side, with lots of tannins and some blackberry taste.  It might do well with a cheese platter, however.

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Reasons to visit:  a nice place to listen to music; the rosé; the 2013 Barrel Chardonnay if you like oaked chards; pleasant quiet tasting room.

How cool to quote Horace!

How cool to quote Horace!

Clovis Point Winery: A Touch of History 4/19/14


Party bus in the parking lot.

Party bus in the parking lot.

Clovis Point Winery touches history in two very different ways:  it is named for a prehistoric type of arrow head that was used on Long Island, and the tasting room is in a converted 1920s potato barn.  The former provides an attractive design for their bottles, and the latter a comfortably rustic space.  There is a long tasting bar plus barrel-based tables with stools, and then an outside semi-sheltered porch and an area of outdoor tables, both of which seem to be filled with groups.  Though a sign at the end of the driveway says “No Buses No Limos No Exceptions,” there are two party buses in the parking lot, so I assume the no’s apply only to those without reservations.

There was quite a crowd at the bar.

There was quite a crowd at the bar…

...but plenty of room on the porch.

…but plenty of room on the porch.

The last time we were at Clovis Point was in November of 2012, so it was time for a return visit.  That’s one great feature of reviewing wineries—every year they have new vintages, so you never run out of material!  This time we opted for two tastings:  the “Cold” menu, which includes two Chardonnays and a Rosé for $8, and the Red, which features four reds for $10.  We could also have chosen the Premium, which we had last time (check my entry for November 17, 2012), and which also has four reds, their more expensive options, for $15.  The pour, by the way, is officially one ounce according to the measured pourer, but our server was generous with us, as she saw us sharing tastes and carefully evaluating each one.  They also offer a small menu of snacks—mainly cheeses and meats and hummus—but, according to what we heard the server say to a nearby group, they are also open to people bringing in their own, as long as it’s not a whole huge meal.

She was talking to a group which included wine club members there to pick up their shipment, and we saw a number of other wine clubbers doing the same.  Surprisingly, one member of that group was chewing bubble gum throughout the tasting!  Not sure what that was about, but personally I don’t recommend it.

1)      2013 Stainless Chardonnay          $20

This continues to be an appealing wine, with 3% Gewürztraminer added to the Chardonnay for a bit of added complexity and depth.  The aroma combines honey (I say) with some citric and grassy notes, and has a tart but nice flavor that reminds me of gooseberries, with some citric flavor.   Very buyable, which we do.

2)      2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay        $25

The menu would have us taste the Rosé next, but our server suggests that we might like to taste the two Chardonnays side by side.  According to the tasting menu, this is made with 89% French oak fermented Chardonnay, 10% unoaked Chardonnay, and 1% Gewürztraminer, and it does provide an interesting contrast with the Stainless Chard.  Butterscotch and nutmeg “on the nose,” as they say, and definitely butterscotch on the tongue, ending with a touch of welcome lemon, so that it has a mixture of sweet and sour.  One could sip this if one liked oaked Chardonnays.  What to eat with it?  You’d need something assertive, like a well-flavored lobster or salmon dish.

The rose is a pretty color.

The rose is a pretty color.

3)      Rosé      $20

Again, this is a bit of a blend, which seems to be the house style:  97% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot.  My husband insists the aroma reminds him of wassail, that spiced warm red wine drink from Scandinavia.  Maybe.  The taste is pleasant, with typical Rosé strawberry flavor, tart, with a touch of sourness at the end.  A white pizza—no red sauce—would complement it.

4)      2006 Merlot       $18

76% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot are blended together to make an undistinguished typical Long Island Merlot.  Despite the blend, it lacks depth, but would be okay to drink with a burger.

Generous pour!

Generous pour!

5)      2012 Cabernet Franc       $28.50

This wine is also on the premium list, and our server is very enthusiastic about it—as she is about all the wines, I have to say.  She says this is a wine that “makes you want to have more.”  And indeed, the smell is lovely—cedar, blackberries, a touch of earthiness—but the taste?  Hmmm…not much to it, we say.  I guess it would be easy to drink.  The Cab Franc is blended with 4% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon.

6)      2007 Merlot       $25

As we’ve heard frequently, 07 was a great year for North Fork grapes, and this one certainly proves that observation, as it is noticeably better than the 06.  Our server notes that she’s bringing a bottle or two of this to a friend’s house tonight!  We could bring this to a friend, too, though we’re not as happy with it as she is.  There are other Long Island Merlots, like Lenz’s, for example, that we prefer.  Nice fruit—cherries and blueberries.

Clovis Point on label...

Clovis Point on label…

...with explanation.

…with explanation.

7)      2006 Vintner’s Select Merlot      $30

Though this is a wine they “only make in good years,” we find it to be just pretty good—not a knockout.  The server describes it as “smooth,” and my drinking companion notes “the barnyard has been tamed.”  Spice and fruit aromas precede tastes of brambly fruit. The Merlot is blended with 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.

Reasons to visit:  Pleasant tasting room, often with live music (we just happened to leave before it started today); the Stainless Chardonnay.

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