While the Finger Lakes excel in white wines, and some surprisingly good reds, especially Cab Franc’s, Long Island, is comprised of two branches forming a claw, North Fork and South Fork, each with a different micro-clime and soils. I had some very nice wines, both red and white, in both areas.
Paumonok, is on the North Fork and was a McNeill favorite. Again, the Cab Franc was the standout. I could not visit that but I did visit several others and were impressed with some of the wines…most notably the Cab Francs.
Also on the North Fork, a very unusual one called One Woman winery. Seeing the little red house reminded me of the Heitz Cellars tasting room on Hwy 29, in Oakville. I was fortunate enough to meet her, Claudia Purita, a pleasant looking woman with hands that showed a lot of work in the vineyards. Her face also showed her time in the sun. But she was fiercely proud of her vineyard and wines, and that stood out to me…way out! Again, her Cab Franc was the standout.
A friend took me to Roanoke Vineyards tasting room where ran right down the list. They are the only winery I found that besides their North Fork vineyards bought grapes from Roman Roth on the South Fork. He was ‘discovered’ by Eric Asimov, a writer for Newsday and the New York Times and a very accomplished wine aficionado. He was the first writer I know of to be bold enough to write about Long Island wines…favorably. I now have faith in his judgment.
We sampled all their wines – all vitis vinifera grapes, no American or French-American Hybrids, a good thing. Their wines and the ones labeled the ‘Grapes of Roth’, were made with Roman Roth of Wolffer Estate Winery on the South Fork.
With that segue, we will cross Shelter Island, where we stayed in a nice house near a friend. Being an island, it requires taking a ferry over, traversing the island, then another ferry to the South Fork and Sag Harbor. Sag Harbor is a beautiful little town with little indication that there are vineyards close by – very close. We chose two:
Wolffer Estate is perhaps the largest vineyard and winery in the area. They too, use all vitis vinifera grapes and make the full range of wines you would find in California. Of particular interest are the Rieslings, as Roman Roth is a German and the day we visited was preparing for a festival wearing his Lederhosen and trademark Alpine hat.
He is a very nice man who is all about wine. He is as serious a winemaker as you will find anywhere in California, and very proud of his wines…especially the Rieslings. There is much attention to detail both in the winemaking and in the beautiful winery.
The other winery we visited was Channing Daughters which is further west. The name puzzled me but the founder Walter Channing, a successful venture capitalist, and artist whose works adorn the winery, named the winery after his daughters,
Rosie Orlando, my server, poured wines for me. I said I want to try the ones you think are the best and she didn’t disappoint me. We began with a Rosado, one of seven ‘pink’ wines they make, with the right amount of acid to make a wine with a nice finish. Then another nice Cab Franc and a Refosco and a a North Fork Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a pleasant wine with soft tannins. All the above were priced at $20 – very fair. Next, Sculpture Garden a 91% Merlot blend that was unusual in that it had 6% Teroldego, and 3% Blaufranckisch. The grapes are foot stomped (?), punched down by hand, and then aged 24 months in older French and Slovenian barrels. This is a big wine the could last eight years or more and needs decanting as it throws off sediment.
The final wine was a 2010 Envelope, 62% Chardonnay, 28% Gewurtztraminer, and 10% Malvasia Bianco. A stunning wine.
All these wine represented good value and most were in the $20-25 range.
In summary, I felt that all the wines I tasted on Long Island were good to very good and a pleasant surprise.
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