When C and I made plans with Lenn to visit a few wineries, we had no idea that (a) we'd meet an awesome person whom it felt like we'd known for years and (b) that we'd discover a wine region that we're quickly becoming stout evangelists for.
Despite the fact that I grew up on Long Island, I had never tasted a LI wine (other than a sample Macari bottling last year). I was excited, though, because I knew that Cab Franc grows quite well in those parts, and, well, I just love Cab Franc.
Lenn planned a wonderful day for us, and I'm only sorry that we didn't get to spend more time out there; C and I have already agreed that our next trip to New York will include an overnight stay on the G-Island. Lenn took us to Roanoke Vineyards (where we got to the tasting room before the staff was quite awake), Lieb Family Cellars, and Waters Crest Winery (where we probably quite overstayed our welcome).
As Lenn alluded to here (and as Alder will attest from the one tasting we've been at together), I tend NOT to enjoy bright, steely, acidic whites. So, fortunately, we never have to worry about me developing a White Burgundy habit which could run us into the poorhouse. That said, I really loved the European-style vinification methods the winemakers in New York are using.
From Chardonnays loaded with minerality and happily short on vanillin oak and overly buttery mouthfeel to Cabernet Francs that managed to stay juicy without being mega-fruit bombs, the wineries we visited won us over.
Perhaps the most gorgeous wines we drank all day were the late harvest wines produced here. Wolffer's Late Harvest Chardonnay is truly something special – all white flowers and tropical fruit, but with a natural, mouth-watering acidity that we rarely find in California late harvests. This wine was less a “sticky” than a “juicy”.
Jim Waters over at Water’s Crest Winery has succeeded in producing a sexy, lithe Eiswein-style bottling. Called “Night Watch”, this Riesling-Chardonnay-Gewurtzraminer blend is perhaps less “quaffable” than the Wolffer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My own perception is that this wine is more about methode than the grapes (that’s a departure for Jim, I think)… and the method is definitely elegant, refined and classic, much like the wine itself.
All told, we spent several hundred dollars from wines from all three wineries. While some of these bottles cost a bit more than a similar wine from a similar type of winery in California, we are happy to support this lovely and burgeoning region, which I like to imagine is much as Sonoma was a decade or more ago.
3543 Sound Avenue
Lieb Family Cellars
35 Cox Neck Road
Water's Crest Winery
22355 Route 48