Appropriately, The Old Field’s history matches its appealingly rustic look. It can trace its roots as a farm back to the mid-1600s, when the land was bought from the Native Americans, according to its web site, and that’s not its only connection to history, about which more later. We particularly enjoy coming here in the warm weather, when you can stand outside at the tasting bar or sit at a picnic table and enjoy the sight of ducks and chickens running around (the pair of ducks, by the way, are named Fred and Ethel, but I don’t know if their last name is Mertz), scenic old farm buildings, and the vineyards. One of the owners is usually on hand as well, if you want to get into a deep discussion of the wines. The overall vibe is relaxed and congenial, and we’ve often found ourselves conversing amiably with strangers as we sip.
The tasting menu offers three options: A tasting of whites, four for $6; reds, three for $5; or a mixed group, four for $6. They also offer wines by the glass—in which case you get an actual glass, rather than the somewhat unfortunate little plastic cup used for tastings—and the bottle, which we noted a group of picnickers enjoying. We decide to share a white and a red, so as to sample all their wares.
1) 2012 Blush de Noir $18
Our youthful and enthusiastic server informs us that this is a new release, a very light pink rosé made from pinot noir grapes. It is so light that it looks like a white wine in the glass. The aroma is mineral, with a touch of cut grass. Very summery and pleasant, with only a little strawberry flavor, this is a nice summer drink I’d serve well iced. $1 of the purchase price of every bottle sold goes to support an animal shelter.
2) 2011 Chardonnay $20
Although this is primarily a steel-fermented chardonnay, a short time in oak gives it a bit of a vanilla aroma, along with what they describe as a “wet slate” smell. If you’ve ever walked around Manhattan while the doormen are hosing off the warm concrete in front of their buildings you know the smell. This is also a light wine, quite tart, with lots of lemon and grapefruit. It would pair nicely with a tarragon chicken salad.
3) 2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $25
After six months in oak, this Chard has definite vanilla and burnt caramel aromas, and lots of pineapple taste, but is not too oaky. Good picnic wine.
4) 2011 Cacklin’ Rosé $18
If you wanted to show someone how different two rosés can be, you could give them a taste of this and of the Blush de Noir, and they’d get the point right away. Made from merlot grapes, with 24 hours on the skins, the Cacklin’ Rosé has a dark color and a distinctive smell that reminds me of cranberry juice. Though the taste is a tad sweet for me, it is good and would make a hit as an aperitif on the porch in the summer. I’d like it better if it had a little lemon or citrus taste. (If you’re wondering about the name, Google Neil Diamond.)
5) Rooster Tail $18
A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this is their everyday pasta and pizza wine, and it is a good member of that club, dry, with some dark fruit tastes. Their ‘09 Cabernet Franc, by the way, has sold out.
6) 2008 Merlot $25
Not much aroma, berry and cinnamon tastes, fairly light for a red: we decide the Merlot is just okay.
7) 2007 Commodore Perry $40
Really? Commodore Perry? What’s that about? Wasn’t he the guy who opened up trade with Japan? And why is there a somewhat Japanese-looking sea under that ship on the label? Here’s the other link to history I mentioned earlier. Commodore Perry is indeed an ancestor of the family who owns the vineyard, and so they honor him by only naming their best vintages after him. ’07 was a great year, and this Merlot shows it, with lots of flavors of dark fruit and ripe figs plus good tannins. We buy a bottle, planning to cellar it. We are also entertained to learn that this wine is famous in Japan, due to the name, and that Japanese tourists get very excited when they come to Old Field and see it. In fact, one was so intrigued that he offered to design the label!
Reasons to visit: pleasant rustic setting, with picnic tables and roaming fowl; the 2012 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay; the Cacklin’ Rosé; the ’07 Commodore Perry; the chance to hear stories about the history of the farm (including one cold winter day when we heard all about the resident ghosts).