Another visit to the North Fork, Part Three

Live Bluegrass at One Woman Vineyards

Live Bluegrass at One Woman Vineyards

In this last installment, I’d like to tell you about our visit to One Woman vineyards and winery.  I noticed the signs for this vineyard during my last visit in March, on the drive back from Greenport. This is one of the farthest out on the fork but in the big picture, just a matter of minutes from the others. My friend from work also recommended we visit this time since we were looking to try some new vineyards on this trip. This one is known for being the only one in the region that has a Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian white varietal known for characteristic aromas of green apple and racy lime. I have had only a few of these to date but all have been exciting quality whites.  I even got my father to agree, who is not a fan of white wines at all.

We made our way down to this just-off-the-beaten-path winery and vineyard, whose tasting room was housed in a small elevated shack with a wrap-around deck positioned just on the edge of the vineyards. However small it may be, they had room for a 3-piece bluegrass band on one end of the deck, seating on the other and a more-than-adequate tasting table inside. With plenty of area along the driveway, they have additional picnic tables set up for visitors as well. Two servers helped us through tastings of 3 wines – a Gewürztraminer, a Merlot, and the impressive 2011 Grüner.

One Woman Vineyards' Grüner Veltliner

One Woman Vineyards’ Grüner Veltliner

I had great expectations for the Grüner and I was not disappointed. The color is a lemon-straw and on the nose were expected and pronounced tart apple and citrus. On the palate, more of that tart apple, but more red on the palate – almost cider-like. It had a nice full body and nice length. The acidity was a medium-plus and it was just delicious. I couldn’t stop talking about it for hours as I enjoyed it. I should have bought more at only $22 a bottle. While this may be higher-priced than your average wine, it is a local treat and worth the money.

The Gewürz was very good, and the Merlot was also a great surprise. Not that I didn’t know they could make great Merlot in the region…

Visit them at:

One Woman Vineyards
http://www.onewomanwines.com
5195 Old North Road
Southold, NY
(631) 765-1200

We ended the trip with my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday dinner at the highly recommended Amarelle, a great restaurant in Wading River where the food and service were top-notch. We tried the pumpkin risotto which was everything I was told it would be.

Advertisements

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2012

Georges DuBeouf Beauolais Nouveau 2012

Georges DuBeouf Beauolais Nouveau 2012

Given that today is Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to cover what has become an annual tradition in the United States this time of year. The release of the new Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of each November. While there are critics who say anything from it is too soon for the wine to be ready to it gives ‘real’ age-worthy Beaujolais a bad name, I think there’s a lot of great things about this wine and this tradition. It is also one of the first wines I discovered ‘on my own’, read that I identified with as a tasty, quality red wine that had something special about it. That something special as we all know is carbonic maceration. In this technique, the grapes are fermented in a CO2-rich environment, causing the process to happen while they are still mostly whole. Also important to note is that there is no yeast involved in this method at all. Gamay lends itself beautifully to this process, and I have enjoyed this wine every year. It results in light, ready-to-drink and easily palatable wines that are delicious and fresh, but don’t have the structure to age. That’s just fine with me. I have already filled my rack with fine age-worthy wines and sometimes I don’t know what to drink because there’s too many I can’t part with. I have come a long way since I first discovered this wine, and it is just as rewarding and fresh today in the 2012. I love a fine aged Beaujolais as well but I think there’s a place for this wine and millions of others agree!

It has a bright ruby color of medium light intensity, and on the nose and palette, smoky and spicy black and red fruit aromas and flavors dominate. Often, ‘bugglegum’ is used to decribe the flavor as well. Tannins are present, but different than you might be used to (less skin contact in this process, and a different method altogether), and its got a refreshing acidity and fruit-forwardness that carries it all the way home. A pleasure to drink and a nice wine to have on the Thanksgiving table.

Another visit to the North Fork, Part Two

Shinn Tasting Room

Shinn Tasting Room

The fun continued after Paumanok with a repeat of our March lunch at the delicious Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. This eatery came highly recommended, and again there was a wait. Luckily Love Lane has a wonderful cheese shop, bookstore with an appropriate selection of wine books, and a tasting room for Roanoke Vineyards across the street to browse while you wait.  Again, lunch did not disappoint, and I treated myself to a nice red from Lenz who we visited in March.

It was then on to nearby Shinn Vineyards Estate for our Winery tour.  The $20 included a tasting flight afterwards of four of their wines.

A little background on the owners: David Page and Barbara Shinn met in California while he was a chef and she an art student. They later moved to New York City and opened a farm-to-table restaurant called ‘Home,’ now a local legend, and where they first paired New York state wines with their local cuisine.  They would go on to do this in another restaurant they opened on the island before buying the Tuthill farmhouse estate that later became their winery. Rustic lodging and paired local food and wine are still on the menu at their bed-and-breakfast, and this experience is one we are coming back for.

Shinn's biodynamic vineyards

Shinn’s biodynamic vineyards

They then planted 20 acres of vines, and it became the first winery and inn on the east coast to be fully powered by alternative energy. The winemaking too, is biodynamic, furthering their belief in harnessing the power of mother nature to create their wine. Barbara grows the grapes using holistic sustainable farming methods and ‘whatever grows or is left by nature around the vines’ including grape compost, animal manure and the local fauna and flora. David joins their winemaker Patrick Caserta to ferment, bottle, and get the wine to you and restaurants around the region.

The tour was more than I expected. I was not only excited myself but excited for my sister-in-law to get this behind-the-scenes experience. Owner and vintner David Page himself took us into the fermenting tank room in an old barn on the premises, gave the group the background on their winery and principles, and then let us listen to the tanks to hear the fermenting in action.

Owner/vintner David Page and fermenting Cabernet Sauvignon

Owner/vintner David Page and fermenting Cabernet Sauvignon

From there, we went into the barrel room, where many barrels of French oak were busy fermenting wine and large oxygen-proof bins were busy fermenting grapes.  They do not add any indigenous yeast here. All of the fermenting occurs naturally as the weight of the grapes compresses upon itself and initiates the process. There were barrels from several cooperages and they use both new and used oak barrels, as do most wineries. This allows for varying levels of oak as the older used barrels will impart less of their flavor into the wine. Eventually they will be rotated out after a few years of use.  And, as I learned in Bordeaux, different woods each impart different aromas and flavors depending what forest and cooperage they come from. You have very different results from a forest in northern France than you do in the south. You could feel the heat in the containers from the fermenting.

As we exited we passed through the ‘wine archive’ where they had wines from vintages reaching back many years. I can see now why this winery was recommended. It’s experiences like this that keep my passion alive.

We then made it to the tasting room where each of us picked 4 of their wines. I opted for 2 reds and 2 whites. My wife and her sister shared with me some of the wines which I hadn’t selected. One was the Coalescence, a white blend that was my favorite of the whites. It had a nice ‘zing’ to it, but I think maybe the Gewürz pushed it into the ‘like’ territory for me.  I also tried their ‘Wild Boar Doe,” a red Merlot-driven Bordeaux blend ($30) that was pleasant. But the Merlot was in my opinion most impressive and that is the bottle I brought home and am enjoying now. I have had a lot of fine Merlots, from California to St. Emilion to right here on the North Fork, where many of these winemakers are doing great things with it.

Shinn 2009 Estate Merlot

Shinn 2009 Estate Merlot

At $27 it is average price for a better one in the region. I usually have access to bottles of this quality and premium for less, so I have no complaints with the extra spend to support local growers and vintners if the quality is there. They are not mass-produced, and so you are supporting their hard work and great results.

This one is very good. To me. very good = premium price. It’s up there with some of those I had in Bordeaux in October and paid way more than this to obtain. The color was an expected deep ruby. On the nose was subtle vanilla and oak and wafts of enticing black cherry.  On the palate was more black cherry, oak, chocolate and spice. It has a medium body and acidity with a nice finish, and is well-balanced and delicious all on its own. I intend to pair it with some nice cheese in the coming days. It is unfiltered and unfined like most fine wines, so I expect some residue when I do finish it.  This wine I highly recommend. While it is ready to drink, it can age 5-7 years.

They have also been doing some distilling in alembic (copper pots, known for Cognac) stills, making micro-batches of grape and fruit brandy. Their wines are available in restaurants and shops all over New York city and Long Island.

Visit them at:

Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse

2000 Oregon Road

Mattituck, New York 11952

(631) 804 0367

Another visit to the North Fork, Part One

Long Island Wine App

Long Island Wine App

The North Fork of Long Island is an upcoming wine region in the United States, with soil and climate much like that of Bordeaux. Having been to both, I think Long Island weather might be a bit more temperamental, especially after this past weekend.  This is my second visit to date, the first being my second wedding anniversary as you know if you’ve been reading my blog since June. This visit was to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 40th.

The region got its start about 40 years ago (Paumanok being the second winery and vineyard to open in the region), and the results are getting a lot of attention, and prices are rising. Only 90 minutes from NYC, wines from the region have been served at the White House, the Four Seasons, the Gramercy Tavern and hundreds of other famous restaurants around the country. We love going to local wine regions as you know, and supporting their local growers, inns and restaurants (and the farm stands are pretty fabulous too). Brooklyn Oenology who I wrote about a few weeks ago, also gets some of the juice for their own wine, as well as selling many of the wines, from the North Fork. So they too, are on the list of participating wineries, which number in the 40’s. There is a great website covering all the region has to offer – liwines.com,  and an app as well that came in very handy on both visits. It features information on all local dining, attractions, events, services, lodging, and of course, wineries.

There are also three or so successful wineries on the south fork, more known for beaches, surfing and celebrity mansions – Duck Walk South, Wölffer Estate, and Channing daughters. I will visit those when I’m down there next. Just waiting for a millionaire to invite me to stay…

Paumanok Vineyards

Autumn on the deck at Paumanok Vineyards

This time we stayed in Riverhead, a larger town right at the mouth of the two forks. There are outlet malls there as well if you get rained out and like to shop. Whereas last time we stayed in the romantic and wonderful Harvest Inn Bed and Breakfast in Peconic, the Holiday Inn was clean and well-appointed and provided the necessary accomodations for a less romantic visit. And it is perfectly located at the start of the wine trail and conveniently close to our dinner spot. But I will get around to reviewing the Harvest Inn experience soon, because it was a very special one and the owners really went out of their way in every sense to make us and the other guests happy. Plus, they have WINE CAMP! This is a must-do on my list, and that I will write about for sure, I just have to save up for a while.

We work with a few of the North Fork vineyards to market their wine, and our company liason was able to set up a special visit at Paumanok again like in March. He also recommended the other two vineyards we visited this time around, as well as the restaurant we went to for dinner. He’s a native of the region and his recommendations have not let us down ever.

With Hurricane Sandy on its way, we had a shorter visit then planned so we could escape Sunday morning with our lives and our wines intact. The wineries too, all made sure to complete their harvest by this date, as that storm surely would have destroyed any remaining crop. But that didn’t stop them from making time for us.

Mrs Massoud treating us to Cab Franc from the tank

Mrs. Massoud treating us to Cabernet Franc still pumping over from the tank

At Paumanok we met with owner Ursula Massoud for the first time, after tasting through a flight of their whites. She then took us in back where we got to try a grapefruit-laden still-fermenting Chenin Blanc 2012. This was something I got to do in Bordeaux (though that was a Sauvignon Blanc) and I am so glad my wife and her sister got the chance here. After all, I wanted this to be a special birthday.  We then got to try a 2012 Cabernet Franc right from the tank as well. It was delicious and one of my favorite varieties being made very well in this region. This is the first place I had Cabernet Franc on its own and I bought two bottles of the 2011 on this trip. Both are gone already… Lastly we got to try an ice wine right from the press. It was sweet and sultry and oh so good.

We then went to the tasting bar again and met with Saleem Massoud, one of the owners’ three sons who work at this beautiful family winery and who we met in March. We caught up and tasted through their reds. All the winemakers told us 2012 has been a great year. I can’t wait to taste the finished results. But in the meantime I again had the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I loved and reviewed here.  At $60 a bottle its the most expensive I’ve had from the region, but the best. We also enjoyed the new “Assemblage” – a mostly Merlot Bordeaux blend with stunning flavor and balance. I picked up another bottle of this also pricey, but ‘worth it’ wine. ($50). I reviewed the equally amazing 2007 here. At the end of the visit we took home a full case of their wine, including a couple of their 2011 Cabernet Franc, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 3 of the 2010 Assemblage, The 2005 Cabernet, 2 of the 2011 Dry Riesling and 2 of their dry Rosé. My wife and I loved all the whites I mentioned as well and the Rosé was a great, Provence style dry wine. I will review those as I open them in the coming weeks. It’s not fair to only just mention them. But if you want to hear about the Assemblage and the ’05 Cab in more detail, definitely click through the links above.

Paumanok Wine Kegs

Paumanok Wine Kegs

This is really the best winery I have been to to date in this country for as long as I can remember. So while the prices can be high, there’s a reason. Top that with the gorgeous location and tasting room and the wonderful family who work there, you’re paying for the experience as much as the great taste you get to bring home with you. They are also one of the region’s wineries trying out the ‘wine keg.’ While not new it is becoming more popular. Several restaurants with larger volumes of popular wines benefit from the faster serving and less shipping and storage costs and space that these kegs offer. They are also more environmentally friendly as they don’t need to be recycled, and take up less trash space than bottles. They hold 5.15 gallons, or about 25 bottles of wine. The nitrogen gas in the tap system line prevents oxidization. Paumanok is currently experimenting with their Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.

Visit Paumanok at:

1074 Main Road  Aquebogue, NY 11931

(631) 722 8800

Next week in Part Two: Shinn Vineyards.

Barrington Cellars Baco Noir and 2010 Dry Riesling

Barrington Baco Noir and Riesling

Barrington Baco Noir and Riesling

While I am going on six days without power, I know a lot of people have it a lot worse, and I am fortunate to have my family nearby who do have power back, and I will be bringing along some fine wine to share. After all, I just got 2 more cases from work! I guess the only thing that I’m really disappointed about is that the pure grape juice I bought at the farmer’s market in Brooklyn that I was going to make wine with, is a goner, just like everything else in my fridge. But I can always go back and get more. However I did want to tell you about the wines we bought from the same stand at the market, from Barrington Cellars in the now famous Finger Lakes Wine region of New York.  We bought two that day, though they had a nice selection of about ten wines for sale. Definitely going to pay a visit.  We picked up one red and one white, natch.

The red was a Baco Noir, a variety I’ve mentioned before and that I’ve found in many local wines. It is a hybrid of the French Folle Blanc grape (Cognac) and an unknown North American variety and is popular in Canadian wine regions as well as the tri-state area for its fortitude. The color was a medium ruby and on the nose was red and black fruit, with toast and smoke notes and on the palate was wild red fruit, white pepper, currant and blackberry and a bit of cola. It had bright acidity and had a medium body and finish and was delicious with our homemade potato leek soup.

The 2010 Dry Riesling was pale lemon in color and had floral, gooseberry, bosch pear and citrus notes on the nose. The palate echoed the citrus and pear, and it had a medium intensity with expected refreshing acidity. A nice example of why this region is now famous in the United States for their Rieslings. I am looking forward to our first visit to the region next year.

Visit them at

Barrington Cellars

2794 Gray Road
Penn Yan, NY 14527
(315) 531-8923