Pellegrini: Club Time Again

September 8, 2021

Many wineries offer visitors the opportunity to join their wine club.  We have limited ourselves to two—Channing Daughters and Pellegrini—but I’ve often read the brochures of other places.  I can certainly see the advantages of wine clubs, both for the members and the wineries.  As a member, you get a regular—usually quarterly—supply of wines from a winery you have liked, plus various perks, including free tastings and/or glasses of wine, reduced prices on bottles, and invitations to or reduced prices on various events at your chosen winery, such as musical performances or catered meals.  And the winery, obviously, has a guaranteed income stream, plus a loyal following.  Win/win.

 

Living on the North Fork offers the added convenience of needing only a short drive to pick up one’s wine club selections—though I think all of them also will mail your selections to you, subject to the laws in your state. 

Another perk of living on the North Fork is the fascination of watching the vines go from winter dormancy to spring bud break to fall ripening.  Right now, the vines are beautiful.  The little newsletter which came with our club choices describes what is happening to the grapes now:

“Veraison refers to the time when the grapes begin turning color and the vines start to transport their energy from their roots into the grapes.  During this period of ripening, the acid levels in the grapes fall (particularly malic acid which leaves tartaric acid as the primary acid) and hexose sugars (glucose, fructose) begin to accumulate in the grape.  The chlorophyll in the berries is replaced by carotenoids in white varieties and xanthophylls in the reds.  The end result is that the fruit begins to get more flavorful, colorful, concentrated, and sweeter, which is crucial to making delicious wine!”

We took our four tastes to what we now think of as “our” table, out on the front lawn, on this warm, breezy day, and had a pleasant time, despite the traffic going by on Main Road.  Two other small groups sat nearby, drinking glasses of wine.  The courtyard was tented yet again, and the server noted they’d had two weddings the past weekend, and another was scheduled for the weekend to come.  We took care to try wines we’d not had the last time—easy given the menu of fourteen wines.

*2019 Gewürztraminer $24.99

This is probably the hardest wine to spell, and also one that is not always easy to like.  I liked this one, but my tasting buddy did not, proclaiming it “too sweet.”  I insisted that what he was calling sweet was actually fruitiness, and said I tasted gooseberries.  He disclaimed any knowledge of what gooseberries taste like.  We both agreed that the aroma was agreeably fruity, and there was a definite citrus flavor, like a sweetish lemon.  I noted some minerality on the finish, and that it would be good with spicy food.

*2020 REJOYCE $24.99

A blend of 65% chardonnay and 35% sauvignon blanc, this wine has a pleasant smell of freshly cut grass plus metal.  It’s definitely not sweet, with flavors of lemon (a lot) and cucumber.  It would be good with oysters or clams.

*2015 Cabernet Sauvignon         $69.99

According to the description on the placemat, this wine spends 19 months in French oak—which might have been a bit too much.  It is quite oaky, with some berry taste, but I compared it to chewing on tree bark.  My husband said it was “tangy.”  The aroma is of sweet berries and tobacco.  Maybe it needs to age longer.

*2020 East End Select Barbeque Red      $24.99

Made from 100% petit verdot grapes, but aged in steel rather than oak, this is, as the name suggests, intended as a more casual wine.  I taste berries and plums, and assert it is dry.  My tasting buddy and I diverge again, as he insists it is too sweet.  I argue that he’s seeing fruit, once again, as sweetness.  “Not in my mouth!” he replies.  Well, that’s wine tasting for you.  Disagreement is perfectly acceptable.  He also notes that he could see drinking this with cheese during cocktail hour, but not with a meal.

Reasons to visit:  good all-around winery; snacks allowed; they also sell the North Fork merlot, chardonnay, and rosé, all well-priced reliable everyday wines ($30 for three big bottles); the gewürztraminer, REJOYCE, and BBQ Red.

Channing Daughters: To Club or Not to Club June 5, 2019

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https://www.channingdaughters.com/

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As the NoFo Wineaux, I hate to admit this, but my favorite winery is actually on the South Fork:  Channing Daughters.  Why?  They have the widest—and wildest—variety of wines, and they are constantly experimenting with new combinations and flavors.  As a result, we are always excited to open the box when our wine club shipments arrive.  BUT…UPS requires the signature of an adult in order to deliver alcohol.  And if you’re not home three days in a row, you need to either pick up your shipment in Farmingdale (not happening) or have it returned to sender and re-shipped—and hope you’re home for it.  What to do?

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A view from the ferry.

We headed to the Shelter Island ferries to make the trek to the South Fork, planning to tell Channing we were resigning from the club and then do one last tasting.  It takes a good hour and a half to travel to Scuttlehole Road this way, plus about $40 for the ferries, and even longer in the summer if you come around by land and cope with Hamptons summer traffic.  Then we made a wonderful discovery.  We could opt for pick-ups rather than mailed selections, but—and here comes the important revelation—we could come at our convenience and pick up several different releases.  Game changer, as they say.  It’s easy to travel to Sag Harbor in November!

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Wine Club news about new releases is posted on a chalkboard. Note the impressive array of wine types.

So we tried a few recent releases, bought two bottles of Scuttlehole Chardonnay and two of Pinot Grigio, and headed home, happy to remain in the wine club.

If you are on the South Fork, I recommend you make a visit to Channing Daughters’ cozy tasting room (no dogs or food allowed) and check out their delicious wines.  A flight of six wines will set you back $20, but it is well worth it.  The flight includes one of their interesting vermouths, as well.  We did not do a standard flight, so this is what we had.

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The standard tasting, which we did not have.

  1. 2017 Bianco Petillant Naturel                   $28

As soon as we identified ourselves as wine club members, our server poured us a taste of the newest release, their sparkling white wine.  It is crisp and dry, with lovely little bubbles.

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  1. 2017 Rosato Petillant Naturel      $28

This is a rosé sparkler, made from merlot, and equally crisp and dry, with a lovely strawberry taste.  We got into a discussion with another wine club member—who noted that she also does her pick-ups on her own schedule, avoiding Route 27 in the summer—about how Channing really doesn’t do sweet wines.  So if you like your wines tasty but not sweet, this is the place to come.

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  1. Cuvee Tropical

Alas, this taste proved how important vintage is.  In the past, this has been a very flavorful wine, with tastes of guava and lychee, but this iteration was quite plain, with not much flavor.

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Note the tree sculpture on the label. Walter Channing was a talented sculptor, and some of his work can be seen on the grounds.

  1. 2017 Pinot Grigio $20

Fortunately, we liked the pinot grigio, nicely lemony, and very easy to drink.  Buyable.

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  1. 2017 Scuttlehole Chardonnay $18

This remains our favorite steel-fermented chard, dry, very tasty.  I think of it as our “house” white!

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This price list doesn’t even include all of their wines.

Reasons to visit:  you’re on the South Fork (where the only other options are Wölffer—lovely, but more formal—and Duck Walk—not so lovely); all the wines they have on offer for a tasting; the petillant naturals; an intimate setting where you can discuss the wines with well-informed servers; a wine club well worth joining (if you can do pick-ups!).

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There’s a small selection of wine-related gifts.

Wine Clubbing: Pellegrini Vineyards March 29, 2014

Chilly, rainy, dank, gray:  We really want winter to end and spring to come!  As we drive past the wineries, we note that despite the unpromising weather some have quite a few cars and limos—and even a bus or two—parked outside.  Pellegrini, however, is very quiet, as we stop in to pick up our wine club shipment and taste the wines included in it.

We take our tasting of four reds to a table and sip and chat and listen to a lively group ask their server questions such as the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Asking questions of your server is a great way to increase your understanding of wines, as we’ve found.

If you want a more detailed description of the winery, check out my entry from September 7, 2013.

http://www.pellegrinivineyards.com/

1)       2007 Merlot                      $19.99

We start with the Merlot, which is included for no extra charge in every tasting, and is also a wine club selection.  This is actually a bit of a blend; though it is 90% Merlot it also includes 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  It is aged 18 months in French oak, and, like Pellegrini reds in general, is somewhat high in alcohol: 13.9%.  The aroma combines cherries and pine and what is often described as “forest floor.”  It is quite tannic, and my husband says his tongue feels like it needs to be brushed.  My feeling is that it would be good with food, though not for sipping, and indeed our club shipment includes a recipe for Merlot Pot Roast with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.  Pasta would also do.

2)      2010 Cabernet Sauvignon            $29.99

Another blend, despite the name, this one is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, aged 19 months in French oak, with 13.6% alcohol.  The aroma is lovely, a sweet berry smell with just a trace of that Long Island earthiness.  Though not tannic, it is dry, with nice fruit, and definitely sippable.  As it is also in our club box, I envision sipping it by the fire next fall—or maybe even today, given the weather!

3)      2010 Petit Verdot                            $49.99

Lovely dark color on this one, which is 98% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot.  Actually, many wines—so I have been told—are at least a small percentage Merlot.  As they age in the cask, some of the wine evaporates (“the angel’s share”) and so many wine makers use Merlot to top them off.  In any event, our tasting notes suggest decanting this one for at least an hour, which has not been done today—our server just opened the bottle—so the taste might be quite different than what we sense.  We smell an earthy, almost mushroomy odor, but the wine itself is delicious.  Though it lacks the depth of flavor a truly great wine, this would be a fine wine to serve with a gourmet dinner, like boeuf bourguignon.  We plan to cellar this for a couple of years (assuming we remember and don’t grab it before then!).

4)      2010 Vintner’s Pride                       $49.99

This is, notes my tasting pal, a Right Bank Bordeaux—60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot—aged 20 months in French oak.  The aroma is not very fruity, with a touch of pine and maybe cinnamon, less earthy than the others.  The wine is also not very fruity, though it is good, with some tannins, and, we decide, would also be better with food.  A friend recently described a wine-tasting course she took, and commented how differently one wine could taste depending on which foods it was paired with.  We agree!

Reasons to visit:  Good reds; reasonably priced Merlot, which is almost always on sale for about $15 per bottle if you buy three; pleasant tasting room; ability to take your tray of tastes to a table; oyster cracker packets included with each tasting so you can clear your palateENTER.