Anthony Nappa Frizzante 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013- It’s so hot today even the bottle is sweating!

It’s hot. It’s humid. I want something light and refreshing that will cool me off and relax me, not that I’m that un-relaxed. Enter Anthony Nappa’s sparkling Frizzante. A member of their wine club, this was a new one that came in our latest shipment that we haven’t seen until now. I’m sure you’ve read about Anthony Nappa in the blog before. He’s the creator of the Winemaker’s Studio on the North Fork of Long Island. I’m a fan of many of their wines, and was pleased to receive another I haven’t yet tried. I don’t drink sparkling wine regularly, as it goes to my head a bit quickly. But right now, it fits the bill, and is tasty with some cheese and crackers.

It is a blend of Pinot Noir (78%), Riesling (10%) and Gewürztraminer (12%). It’s made by a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged on the lees to add depth and body like a Champagne. It’s not filtered so does give a slightly cloudy appearance but keeping on the lees is to it’s benefit. It’s dry but has many of the aromas you’d expect in the Riesling and Gewürz like flowers, peach, and apricot and these continue on the palate. It goes for $20 and can be easily found in the NYC metro area. Bottoms up!


North Fork, Old and New

North Fork Long Island Wines

North Fork Long Island Wines

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went back to the North Fork of Long Island to celebrate another anniversary. We tried a new B&B just outside the seaside town of Greenport which we became enamored with on previous visits. We stopped at some favorites wineries we’ve visited since we began exploring the region, and ventured out to some new wineries on the scene. Without going into too much repeat detail on visits already documented on this blog, I will name drop the old favorites we re-visited:

Croteaux (home to nothing but great rosés), Lieb Cellars (for some more Bridge Lane Chardonnay-natch), One Woman (great Grüner Veltliner) and ordered some of our favorite Anthony Nappa wines while dining at Noah’s in Greenport and A-mano in Mattituck.

And now on to the new!

Kontokosta Winery

Kontokosta Winery

The first stop was Kontokosta, started by brothers Michael and Constantine Kontokosta. Owners of local inns in Greenport and Aqueboque, the brothers took an interest in winemaking as a result of the locale and, I would assume, their Greek backround. The first vines were planted between 2002 and 2004 with the first wines produced in 2006. With no formal winemaking training, the first wines and the art of winemaking was taught to Michael by Peconic Bay founder and Ackerly Vineyards’ Ray Blum until his passing in 2007. Eric Fry from Lenz helped with the next few vintages at his winery, and Gilles Martin of Sparkling Pointe is currently winemaking consultant and assisted on the 2012 vintage. They sell some of their fruit to other local wineries, and some of the wines are made from the fruit of other local vineyards (including a tribute to Ray Blum from Ackerly Pond), rounding out a nice current line of 8 wines.

It is a stunning state-of-the-art winery replete with modern architecture and sound-side views.There is no detail missing here. The winery building is made with 90% recycled steel and wood and is powered by a giant windmill on the property, with an energy and environmental award to show for it. It is elegant and high-class yet surrounded by beautiful vineyards and a short walk to the northern coast of Long Island with commanding views of Connecticut across the sound.

Duck Walk Pinot Meunier 2010

Duck Walk Pinot Meunier 2010

The rosé and the Cabernet Sauvignon were favorites of mine and I brought one of each home and enjoyed them recently.  Their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc won Best of Class and Double Gold at the International East Meets West Wine Challenge. We enjoyed that one as well. While Chardonnay shows well in the region, they specialize in Loire grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc which also do well here and they do not make a Chardonnay.  If you want their wines, you will have to go to the winery to purchase them.

After a visit to Croteaux, we also made it to Duck Walk North, the other Duck Walk being on the South Fork. We enjoyed many of their wines but the most interesting to me was the Pinot Meunier. This you may know as one of the three grapes used in the production of Champagne and other fine sparkling wines. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the others, and in varying combinations including just the red grapes (blanc de noir) or just Chardonnay (blanc de blanc). Pinot Meunier is a grape I’ve never had on its own before, and you know I can’t resist a new wine experience. It pours out a bright ruby red of medium body. Blackberry, bramble and oak fill the nose and continue on the palate. The tannins were firm but not harsh. A pleasant red wine and a fortunate discovery, as no one else on the east coast makes a Pinot Meunier on its own.

Goose at the Old Field

Goose at the Old Field

Next stop was The Old Field. We tried the first day we were there but they weren’t open (weekends only it turns out) so we were pleased when we tried again that it was open and went in for a visit. This is really an old farm, and is still occupied by numerous chickens, turkeys, and a curious goose, who enjoyed staring at us through the tasting barn window as we tasted through their wines poured by our host and family winemaker Perry. Maybe the goose is a Cabernet Franc fan? We enjoyed their wines and the conversation with Perry and some other customers who we saw earlier in the day at Croteaux.

There was none of the Pinot Noir to be had that day but we did enjoy the wines we tasted, particularly the Cacklin’ rosé, Cabernet Franc and Commander Perry Merlot. This winery’s vines go right down to the water and a private beach, and the space is available for weddings. The property’s documented history goes back to the 1600s and has been in the family’s ownership for 95 years. The first vines were planted there in 1974 and bio-dynamic and organic practices are used, with the chickens providing extra natural fertilizer as well as eggs. Everything is done by hand, from harvesting to labeling each bottle.

Wines on Tap at Martha Clara

Wines on Tap at Martha Clara

We finished the weekend with a visit to Martha Clara Vineyards, owned and operated by the Entenmanns, just across from their family farm. This potato farm was purchased in 1978 to raise thoroughbreds after Robert Entenmann sold off the family bakery business.  In 1995 he caught on to the local vinifera craze and began planting what would become 100 acres of vines.  He named it after his mother, Martha Clara Entenmann.

The tasting room was a beautiful building adorned with large scale classic movie posters, several tasting tables, a private tasting room for events, a gift shop and a large gathering space for snacking while enjoying newly purchased wines. Also to note is all their wines were on tap! They have a new winemaker and the wines were definitely showing well. I was pleased to find the Pinot Noir more developed and ripe than many from the region, and bought myself a bottle. And the nose on that Pinot pleased as well, so you know I was happy.

On another North Fork kick…

2012 Paumanok Chenin Blanc

2012 Paumanok Chenin Blanc

Kick, sure. I wanted to use the word bender but that’s definitely less classy a title, isn’t it?  But again Long Island wines are making my life a happier one. You know me, I can go on and on and on about how great the region and its wines are, and I have. Just check the archives…

The past few days are no exception. On Friday night I had the wonderful opportunity to pour some of my favorite North Fork wines — Paumanok and Sparkling Pointe — at a company tasting event (with one of the winemakers himself). It was easy to talk about them in depth with eager customers, given the amount of passion I feel for the region and its wines.

Then, when I arrived home I got a notice that my first club shipment from Anthony Nappa’s Winemakers studio had arrived. I will be going at lunchtime to pick that up and am already picturing popping open a Bordo or Anomoly later. Is it 5:30 yet?

And yesterday I continued by sharing with my family a Paumanok 2012 Chenin Blanc (which I got to try from the tank mid-fermentation last fall thanks to a special private tour) and a wonderful Lieb Cellars Cabernet Franc I picked up when on a visit out there last month. On that last visit I had the pleasure of meeting their head winemaker and we talked for hours about the craft and the joy of wine, how we ended up in the business and where we’d like to go. I ended up joining that club as well and look forward to their shipment. My regular share of the North Fork’s best is secure.

The 2012 Paumanok Chenin Blanc was crisp and refreshing with citrus and floral notes on the nose, and melon and grapefruit on the palate. It had a zippy but balanced acidity and medium body and finish. On this hot and sunny afternoon it was a perfect fit, sipped in the garden with some hors d’oeuvres. It is 100% Chenin Blanc and bottled with a screwcap to keep it fresh until its gone. It is a blend of three lots of Chenin and is made by slow cool fermentation in steel tanks to retain the acidity and bright fruit. It retails at $28. I have yet to have a Paumanok I didn’t love and there’s no exception here. Delicious.

Lieb Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Franc

Lieb Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Franc

The 2008 Lieb Cellars Reserve Cabernet Franc was delicious as well. I had it both with a fresh charcuterie tray at lunchtime in my parents’ sunny garden, as well as with my first BBQ of the season last night. It paired perfectly with the cold meat and the grilled burgers. It is ruby in color with notes of pepper, some perfume, toast and a little game on the nose. The palate carried over these aromas, with some cassis and wildflower hints. It’s structure was well-balanced in acidity and tannin and the finish was smooth. It retails at $26, and hopefully my first club case has a bit more of this, because I’m now all out! I tried many of their wines last month, and look forward to sharing my notes on more of them when they arrive at my door.  Also to note is this vineyard is completely herbicide-free.

Something I’ve noticed about all the winemakers in this region that I’ve met (and there are at least 5) is how friendly, approachable and passionate they are about their wines. There is none of the pretentious wine-snobbery here that you’d find in other places, even with the stunning wines they are producing. It is so refreshing, and it is one of the reasons I am more and more entranced with the craft of wine-making and this region every time I visit. It’s inspiring.

You can get wines from both of these fine vineyards in many New York City restaurants and shops, as well as in their tasting rooms, which I of course recommend. They will treat you right. Also, you can order online at or

Channing Daughters and Murray’s Cheese Tasting and Pairing at City Winery, NYC

New York in New York week: Channing Daughters and Murray's Cheeses Pairing and Tasting Class

New York in New York week: Channing Daughters and Murray’s Cheeses Pairing and Tasting Class

As I mentioned in the previous entry, last week my wife and I went to a wine tasting and pairing of Long Island Winery (surprise, surprise) Channing Daughters and NYC’s perhaps best-known cheese monger, Murray’s. It was part of “New York in New York Week” and was held at City Winery, at their Tribeca location. There is also one in Chicago. This winery is not only a winery, but a top-notch music performance venue where I go to see some of my favorite solo or group performers in an intimate seated dinner setting, with the benefit of a fantastic wine selection. As a premier vinofile member, I am entitled to advanced ticket purchases, among other things. The tasting table was beautiful, positioned directly adjacent to their barrel room for maximum ambiance. The rattling of the subway below added some unmistakable NYC flare, but not enough to do any damage to the glassware or experience.

You already know about my love for the wines coming out of the North Fork of Long Island, though I have never tried one from the South Fork. This area has three wineries vs. the 40 or so on the North Fork. Channing is located in Bridgehampton; the Hamptons being more known for celebrity mansions and beaches. I have heard great things about their wine and I was not disappointed. My wife had her first ‘orange wine’ from Channing.  These are fermented on the skins like red wine but from white grapes. You will therefore also get the tannins and body more like a red wine. Some are also slightly oxidized, giving you similar aromas to sherry wine. They are a bit of a hot fad these days and getting a fair share of criticism from skeptics or wine purists however they’ve been making them like this for millenia in the region now known as the countries of Georgia and Slovenia, so perhaps those critics should do their homework. They tend to be more expensive as they are not made in large scale. And you can pair them with meat just as easily as fish, and in any order.  Channing is one of the few US winemakers to make the wine under the guidance of head winemaker Christopher Tracy, the first being in 2004.

That night, it was Christopher himself guiding us through 5 of their wines paired with 5 fine cheeses under the guidance of Murray’s Cheese expert Beth. Currently a candidate for the MW program, he has many qualifications from the Sommelier Society, the WSET and Certified Wine Educators. But best of all, he has a very friendly, unpretentious and accessable demeanor that made the experience a joy. Everyone interprets wine differently, and a good educator is not only someone who can teach and loves the subject, but one that makes it fun and accessable. My WSET instructor was the same way, and learning with him only amplified my passion for the subject as I studied. He invited us to visit the winery this summer and ask for him personally. That’s a no-brainer. The 5 wines and tasting /pairing notes below.

Sylvanus 2010 – A hand-picked , whole-cluster pressed, bone dry and aromatic blend of 60% Muscat, 30% Pinot Grigio and 10% Pinot Blanco. The grapes were grown, harvested and fermented together. The wine is named after the vineyard and a legendary ‘green man’ who they honor ( I meant to get the story on that, but did not).  Its purpose is capturing terroir and time and place. Both steel and oak fermented, it was tangy and lively with floral, grapefruit and honeysuckle notes.  Paired with La Tur cheese, a creamy cow, sheep and goats milk blend described as ‘ice cream without the sweet’.

Pinot Grigio 2010 – a pleasantly citrus-tinged wine with chalky minerality and pear fruit that were to me extremely reminiscent of Loire Chenin if I didn’t know any better. Definitely not the bulk type Pinot Grigio that gives it a bad rap outside of those in regular contact with good wine. Also grown and harvested by hand and fermented in both oak and steel. Actually its 88% Pinot Grigio and 12% Chardonnay. The fruit is both from the Channing vineyards and Mudd West in the nearby North Fork. Paired with Valencay, a wonderful Loire (and hence brilliant match IMHO) pasteurized goat cheese that is cave-aged. A wonderful story behind it too. Its pointed tips reminded Napoleon so much of his failure in Egypt (think pyramids) that he demanded they be removed.

Rosato Di Syrah 2012 – things just got even more interesting, as the next two wines were both rosés, but this one was made from a red grape and the next from a white grape, like the orange wines described above. This one had a nice floral and berry nose and palate with nice body, yet still dry in a Provencal style. After 3-4 hours in the press it is then steel-fermented and made like a white wine in every other way. The fruit was specifically selected and picked for a rosé wine. It paired wonderfully with Berkswell cheese from the West Midlands of England. Dry and musky and delicious, this was my favorite cheese. Lanolin notes and even some wild berry can be found within.

Ramato 2010 – the “orange” wine of the evening (see my description above), its name refers to the original Fruilian style — Pinot Grigio fermented on the skins over a period of 13 days. Pear, citrus, clove spice and baked fruit aromas compliment its nicely balanced acidity and body. To me it was reminiscent and similar to white Pinot Noirs I’ve had a lot of recently. This will pair with just about any meat or cheese out there, and did so with the Vacherin, a creamy Swiss mountain cheese, known for its use in fondue. It is aged 3 months in caves wrapped in cheesecloth.

Due Uve – Last was this Rhône-style Syrah, with 16% Merlot in the blend. The grapes are from North Fork vineyards and are de-stemmed and harvested by hand into bins where they are crushed by foot, punched down and fermented “wild” which means with naturally occuring yeast. Second fermentation is 16 months in neutral oak and it’s unfiltered and gravity-bottled. It had lovely black fruit, stone, pepper and a bit of wildflower notes. Deep ruby, classy and light but I feel strong enough to hold up with spicy dishes. It went great with Cabot clothbound cheddar, an amazing cheese aged 12-13 months and just a little sharp and nutty all at once.

Apparently they also make a Blaufrankisch, an Austrian red variety I have yet to try as well as wines using Tokai and Malvasia. I will be visiting this summer for sure!

North Fork Live Blog Day 3: Lenz Winery & Bedell Cellars

Lenz Winery, Peconic, NY

Lenz Winery, Peconic, NY

For this last day at the North Fork of Long Island I am back at a few favorites to stock up ! I just left Lenz whose Blanc de Noir was on the top of my list (I reviewed it here last year) and I was impressed with their Gewürztraminer as well. I was also quite giddy seeing the workers out pruning the shoots on the vines in preparation for budburst as well as seeing head winemaker Eric Fry and his team working on the next vintage in the winery.

Tasting at Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue, NY

Tasting at Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue, NY

I am now at another favorite, Bedell Cellars whose 2010 first crush I reviewed as another favorite last year. Consider this my first vertical tasting as I just had the 2011 which has the addition of 20% Syrah which has added a nice spice to last year’s fruit-forward blend ( which I obviously loved). I like both a lot. 2010 was hot and the fruit really stood out in a way I adored, and while 2011 didn’t have as hot a year, this is a beautifully balanced wine and the Syrah addition is a nice touch. Their 2011 Cabernet Franc is also very nice as well as their 2010 Gallery white which is a pricier (but worth it) showcase blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. The tasting room and feel here are more modern and contemporary. Visit both when you can.

North Fork Live Blog Day 2: Croteaux vineyards

Croteaux Vineyards Rosé tasting

Croteaux Vineyards Rosé tasting

I am sitting here in an absolutely beautiful farmhouse complete with an antique barn and endless rows of French and California cloned vines of Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Franc stretching beyond into the distance. Except that Croteaux is all rosé. The tasting room studio is an attic barn space painted with bright Provençal colors and and windows all around overlooking the 1600’s barn and vineyards. It is also filled with the owner’s currently in-process paintings ( and hence the pleasantly pungent aroma of oil paint) of vines and other oenophilea. This art studio vibe is an enticing enhancement to the room. I can imagine the owner painting all week while overlooking his vineyards and listening to French music and can almost transport myself there. And dream of the same life. We tried six different rosé wines with some baguettes and the favorites were the Chloé Sauvignon Blanc rose and the Jolie Cabernet Franc rosé, the latter of which had nice complexity in the aromas including black cherry, currant, rosemary and other wild herbs. It has a fuller body and light rouge color. The former having expected grassy notes and more herbaceous notes but a lighter body and typical rosé characteristics. I will be back for both the ambiance and the wine!


North Fork Live Blog Day 1: The Winemaker’s Studio

The Winemaker's Studio

The Winemaker’s Studio

I am very happily camped out at The Winemaker’s Studio, a small shop and tasting room which is the result of many local winemakers’ getting to do their own private labels through a local crushing co-op. There are many to choose from, and the quality here shows their experience. The menu has each winemaker’s story and current wine offerings. The a la carte menu of 12 or so wines changes weekly. The best of many worlds all at once. We have passed here a few times on our last visits but were always under the impression that it was perhaps a private business.

Everything we’ve had here has been top notch and particularly the Anthony Nappa wines who was formerly the head winemaker at Shinn, who I reviewed here in October after visiting. The “Bordo” Cabernet Franc I just tasted is perhaps the best I’ve had in the region so far. So, so good. Cigar-box aromas and berry spice permeate the nose as well as the palate, and its nice and fruit forward like my other favorite Cabernet Francs. It is fermented ‘wild’ which I assume means in the bins left to macerate upon itself. The finish keeps on going. I am buying two of these. There was a fantastic white Pinot Noir which I will also be bringing home, some great Viogniers, Rieslings, a Cab/Merlot blend, and a very nice dry rosé as well as an ‘orange wine’ which is partially oxidized. Several of these are from Red Hook winery in Brooklyn, whose rosé was one of the first I wrote about on this blog when I tried it at a Brooklyn rooftop BBQ. We will be going to visit Red Hook, as everything we’ve tried of theirs is also very good.

They also do spirit tastings here. While it looks more like a coffee shop, everything here is the real deal, and the staff as knowledgeable as they get. And, there IS fresh coffee available as well as some local beer if that is your craving or a necessity. Next door is a gourmet food shop, and our cheese plate was prepared of gourmet fresh cheeses on the spot.

We have also just joined the Winemaker’s studio wine club. That’s about the highest recommendation I can give. Go!