Waters Crest 8/11/12

http://www.waterscrestwinery.com/

Waters Crest has probably the worst-located winery on the North Fork, in a strip mall around the corner from the Southold town dump, which is too bad, because their wines are generally quite good.  The tasting room is small but pleasant, with a selection of gift items including some cute t-shirts and a cheese tray for $9.99. Jim Waters makes all his own wines, but buys his grapes from local growers, not having his own vineyard.  He started as a home winemaker, and, as we’ve learned from talking to other winemakers, that’s often the first step to becoming a professional wine-maker. (The server, Jenny, also tells another couple how Jim was a volunteer at Ground Zero, and after that decided to follow his dream.)  We bonded with Jim and his wife on our first visit, when we discovered they had looked at and contemplated buying the house we eventually bought in Mattituck!

The tasting menu now includes all seven of their wines, for $15, or you can buy individual tastes of whites for $2 each or reds for $3 each.  We opt to share one tasting.

1)  2011 Rose          $24.99

This is a simple and refreshing rose, with a fresh strawberry aroma and taste, fairly tart.

2)  2011 Chardonnay          $18.99

Although it is steel fermented, it has some interesting notes of vanilla and caramel which makes us wonder if it spent any time in oak, though Jenny says no.  It has a pleasantly lemony finish.

3)  2010 Reserve Chardonnay          $25.99

Delicious.   A somewhat smoky, mineral aroma makes us wonder how this will taste, but the wine has a nice balance of fruit and is not too oaky.  Jenny says it spent 10 months in new French oak barrels.

4)  2008 Merlot          $39.99

We get new glasses for the reds, always a nice touch.  This is a lovely soft Merlot, with a berry aroma and dark plum flavor, without too much of the North Fork dirt flavor.  Not much in the way of tannins.

5)  Due Sorelle          $34.99

Two sisters–named for the Waters’ daughters Michelle and Lauren–combines two wines, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to good effect, with lots of yummy pepper and fruit flavors including cherry.  Mild and mellow, this is dry despite the good fruit flavors.

6)  2008 Campagnia Rosso          $49.99

This is a right bank Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  The aroma is somewhat funky and off-putting (earthworm?) though the taste is better than the aroma. However, it is not our favorite of the wines.

7)  2007 Cabernet Franc Grand Vin          $39.99

Though the aroma of this is also somewhat earthy, the flavor is excellent, lots of ripe fruit with some mineral on the finish.  We buy a bottle!

Reasons to visit:  some nice wines, especially the 07 Cab Franc Grand Vin and 10 Reserve Chard; intimate setting, with the frequent chance to chat with the owner.

Bedell Cellars 8/7/12

http://www.bedellcellars.com/

If someone ever gives an award to a winery for attention to design, Bedell should get it.  From the pretty flower-surrounded parking lot to the attractive type-face of their signs to the arty labels on their wines, it is clear that someone is paying attention to appearance, and doing it very well.  The tasting room is well-designed, and the outside veranda lovely.  Even the servers wear a “uniform”–checked shirts with the Bedell logo.  Happily, the wines are equally well-designed!  We are here on a warm late summer afternoon with our daughter, son-in-law, and a now 14-month-old distraction, so not all of my notes are as comprehensive as they could be.  However, many of the technical details of their wines are readily available on their web page.

There are two tasting options (as well as the usual ability to buy wines by the glass or the bottle):   The Estate tasting includes 5 wines from their lower priced line for $10, while the Premium tasting gives you 5 tastes of their higher priced wines for $15.  We opt for one flight per couple, with one pair trying the premium and the other the estate so we can taste all ten wines.  The pour is small, but since we are there at the end of the day (4:30), a couple of times we get the benefit of a little extra to empty a bottle!  The servers are very knowledgeable and pleasant, and we also enjoy chatting with another young couple with a baby in tow, and our granddaughter enjoys meeting the calm and very friendly golden lab who is allowed into the room just to say hello.

Estate Tasting:

1)  2010 First Crush White          $18

This is a mostly steel-fermented blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling that is light and tart and refreshing.  The aroma is of mineral and chalk, and the fruit is subtle but there, with a pleasant dryness.

2)  2011 Chardonnay          $25

The server explains that this wine spends some time in neutral oak barrels (in other words, in barrels that have already been used for previous fermentations, and so have lost much of their oaky taste) in order to give the wine a better texture, and indeed, it does have a pleasant mouth feel.  The tasting notes also point out that beach stones are used in the casks, which we learn help to keep the cask full.  How much, if anything, they do for the flavor is debatable.  The flavor is pleasantly citrusy.

3)  2011 Taste Rose          $18

This is a light, fairly nondescript blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv.   Can’t compete with Croteaux’s roses.

4)  2010 First Crush Red          $18

This is a Beaujolais Nouveau style of light red, and would be nice slightly chilled with a roast chicken.  The aroma has some of that North Fork earthiness, but it tastes better than it smells.

5)  2009 Merlot          $20

Nice berry aroma, and a typical Long Island Merlot, though without the earth flavor that is sometimes too prevalent.

Premium Tasting

1)  2011 Sparkling Rose          $35

This is NOT a champagne-style sparkling wine, but rather one made by injecting CO2 into the tanks.  It is a refreshing blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot, but tastes a bit too much like a pink soda to me.

2)  2011 Viognier          $35

Winner!  This is a delicious white with lots of citrus and pleasing amount of complexity, despite a somewhat funky aroma.  Since I have no earlier notes on this wine, my guess is it is a new one for Bedell.

3)  2010 Gallery         $40

The Viognier grape also appears in this blend, which adds Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to the mix.  The aroma reminds me of lemon candy, and the taste has a sweetness of ripe fruit to it, but it is a pleasant wine.

4)  2010 Taste Red          $35

Yum.  The server notes that this was aged for 12 months, and is a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Malbec.  The aroma is intensely berry berry, and the taste is lovely, with lots of fruit but dry.  Good tannins.

5)  Musee          $75  (!)

This rather pricey wine is also a Bordeaux blend, with an aroma of coffee and plum.  It spends 14 months in a combination of oak and old oak, and is a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Petit Verdot.  Though it is a good wine, with some complexity and good fruit flavor and a nice finish, we feel it is not worth the price.

Our son-in-law buys the First Crush Red, a good choice, we all agree.

Reasons to visit:  beautiful room and attractive labels; good though expensive wines; First Crush Red.