The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Roadside Attraction

A Week of Frustration in the Vineyards of Long Island

Really? You want to charge me $12 for a "tasting flight" of 5 1-oz. Pours of Long Island wines?! This is tourist trap hell at its most exploitative. Several of the wineries we visited were making more money from the bottles they poured in their tasting rooms than the bottles they sold at the tasting room, which were generally sold at retail price or higher, even though they are winery-direct, i.e., no middlemen took a cut. High-margin heaven. Still, we stumbled into a few good things amidst the vanity tasting room mansions and "event spaces" along the North and South forks -- median quality largely bested what you'd encounter in NC or Virginia tsting rooms, but rarely gave similarly-priced North Coast Cali or Oregon examples of the same varietals a run for their dough. And there seems to be a lot of dough involved -- I'm sorry about the introductory rant, but the handful of estates we stopped into seemed less-than-interested in familiarizing potential customers with their wares, unless they could make an extra buck along the way, and offered little in the way of infromation or education with our $6 half-glass of wine. Simple questions like "Is this carbonic maceration?" or "How old are these vines?" stumped our pourers. Is it too much to expect that a server whose employer produces perhaps 12 wines have an intimate knowledge of them? I don't care that you think it tastes like tropical fruit. (Simmer down, Jay, dinner is coming.) Hunger makes me angry. Hope the tasting notes that follow help inform your next Long Island tasting journey; a few of these wineries have distribution along the Eastern Seaboard. We're off to Patagonia West, the northernmost outpost of Argentine restauranteur Frances Mallman. The one in Mendoza is fantastic, so I have hopes.

PAUMANOK Winery, North Folk, close to Riverhead

2004 Sauvignon Blanc
Inoffensive, a hint of lemon/citrus and acid. Fine.

2004 Festival Chardonnay
OK. Balanced, but not a ton going on.

2002 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Tutti Frutti. Tropical aromas. Very little texture, but also not obtrusively oaky. Fine.

2003 Festival Red
Tastes like a cheap Bordeaux blend. Light, fine, probably good with food.

2002 Merlot
Sucks. Long sucky finish.

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
Smells like nothing. Could she give me a smaller pour? Tastes like nothing.

NV Vin Rosé (Cabernet Franc)

2004 Semi-dry Riesling
A touch of tropical fruit, but only faintly Riesling.

MACARI- Organic Winery on the North Fork
Better staff than Paumanok.

NV Collina 48 White $5.99
Tastes like wine. Little else. Dry, completely anonymous; "Crisp" I suppose would be the best thing you could say. Yucky, pukey aroma would be the worst.

2003 Rosé
Bordeaux varietals. Very average.

2004 Katherine's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Color of water. Smells like cat pee. The cat is supping on grass. Perfectly fine. 1/2 star

2001 Reserve Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Tropical oak aromas - vanilla.

2003 Unoaked Chardonnay
Ripe soft apples. Nice. 1/2 star

2002 Estate Merlot
Smells like ripe merlot. 1/2 star

2004 Early Wine (Chardonnay)
Sweet with balancing acid.

2002 Reserve Merlot
Odd, smells like Cab. Franc. Tastes like good St.-Emilion. One Star

NV Collina 48 Merlot
Simple. One-dimensional.

2002 Cabernet Franc
Tastes/smells like NC wine: trash and new car vinyl.

2001 Bergen Road (Meritage)
Anonymous Cali-style.

2003 Block E (Eiswein)
A touch of apple sauce.

One of the oldest North Fork Wineries. Current owners bought the winery 20 years ago.

2002 Blanc de Noir
Basically a rosé. Fine, dry, pale salmon color.

2003 Chardonnay White Label
Oaky. Creamy and tart at the same time. Terrible.

2001 Chardonnay Silver Label
Reminds me of bad Argentine Chardonnay.

2001 Chardonnay Gold Label
So much creamy vanilla. Tropical malo yuckiness.

2003 Gewurztraminer
Not a bad example. Certainly a dry style. Reminds me of Mittnach-Klack Alsatian Gewurz.

1999 Cuvee - sparkling
Austere. A bit lacking in fruit, a bit too frothy.

1991 RD
Definitely mature mushroom and toast aromas. A bit clunky but not terrible.

NV Merlot
Very green pepper/herby.

This place is hilarious. Big fake Italian palazzo.

2003 Bel Rosso
Serve chilled. A little weedy inocuous Cab Franc flavor, then no flavor at all.

2002 Estate Merlot "Young Vines"
Soft plum/chocolate aromas. Fine, boring, some greenness.

2000 First Label Merlot
A bit more substantial.

2001 La Fontana
Meritage-type blend. Greenness. A shame, a disappointment.

2001 First Label
More "makeup." Sweet, ripe fruit aromas. Less greenness.

2001 Pinot Gris
Smoke/fling aromas. Very dry. Not bad. Strangely absent of forward fruit for Pinot Gris. Light texture. One star.

2001 Chardonnay
Light gold color. Aromas of oak toast. Fine in a style stuck between Napa and Mersault. Just a touch of overripe pukey fruit.

2001 Sparkling Cuvee Brut
Smoke, stone, lees aromas. Has the persistent dryness I'd associate with Huet's sec wines. I'd wager you could buy NV Champagne for a similar price that's as good or better, but this is nice nonetheless.

2002 Pinot Noir
It almost smells right. On first glance it's Pinot, but then you get a hint of vinyl/petrochemical. Better than it could be, better than many New World Pinot Noirs - but at $50, I'll take a Premier Cru Savigny instead.

2001 Estate Merlot
A little weed aroma. Half a weed. Impossible to like. Kinda unspecifically bad.

2004 Late Harvest Chardonnay
A touch of apple sauce, but otherwise good. 1/2 star


Post a Comment

<< Home