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New York wine trip

When being in New York you think of shopping, trying different restaurants, foods and wines, but it doesn’t really come to mind to visit vineyards. Is it a good place to grow grapes near the Big Apple?


Apparently the state is the second largest wine producer in the US (our fellow friends from America were surprised!) and surely you need to go just further to the shores of Long Island to reach vineyards.

Our friend kindly agreed to deal with the route and planning the trip, so out of the whole Long Island (wow, the number of sites is amazing!), she chose 5 places to visit and we drove from Brooklyn to there (takes about an hour and a half).


First stop - Pellegrini Vineyards. They are located in Cutchogue, regarded as a sunniest place in the New York state, which allows them to get the best possible ripeness and concentrate on the result - they have stated that they have been designed for the excellence. Truthfully so we bought a wine flight ($12 for 5 wines) and headed to a terrace to enjoy the tasting. What was remarkable from the list of their wines is that it was very carefully designed to meet different demands - from ever so popular Asian and spicy food (they do have Gewurztraminer for that), to hard to miss Steakhouse Red (almost unmissable for the steak lovers and having a very balanced mix of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot). Though our amusement was with their work on the typical red varieties of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The latter is a very limited production of 98% Petit Verdot (adding just 2% of Merlot). It has a very pleasant perfume, elegant and very fruity. Yet it comes with the price tag of $50. Cabs are more accessible with $23 per bottle of Cabernet Franc and $29 for Cab Sav. Cab Sav is like a left bank Bordeaux - has 24% Merlot in it; and Cab Franc reminds some good examples of Loire works on this variety, yet it is much more perfumed and pronounced (typical for the US wines in general). It was really pleasant, the staff was also very good and knowledgeable and we moved on to the next ones.


From a more family feel to the tasting and the vineyard we reached Pindur, quite a large site and then find out that it is indeed the biggest - they produce staggering 70000 cases a year (what a difference comparing to Pellegrini, where the volume Merlot wine was only produced in a 1410 cases quantity). Pindur offered a cheaper tasting, much more wines on offer including 6 limited edition wines and sweeter wines (still so popular in the US) including port. Wines are simplier, more accessible - from $14 to $35 for Cabernet Franc. The latter was a bit more astringent when compared with Pellegrini one, but Syrah 2010 was very pleasant - very nice wild berries and herbal notes. Will go down as a good table wine for poultry and red meats. Majority of wines are made with the thought on popular foods - steaks and Italian dishes, so they specifically underline this in their wine lists.


We swiftly moved to Raphael, and dare we say they have made such a work on the building, it is massive and somewhat just too large with its gigantic metal chandeliers in the hall. Yet they had quite a rocky live music, also quite a queue for the tasting - no set price, you just pick the wine and the tasting will be around $3-4 per glass. We should say that it was quite disappointing, especially comparing to some good examples we have tasted before. No, they were not unpleasant, but just not exciting enough.


We decided to move to another one - Duck Walk Vineyards. It felt like you are in a big countryside wooden church with some bubbly girls explaining some wines to you. There was some dancing, some horrible singing and some dare we say awful wines. It was the cheapest tasting, some really unpleasant wines (we sometimes thought they whole winemaking process was just wrong and they tasted too acidic and just not ready to be released), yet it didn’t stop the girls from being bubbly and trying to animate the public. We left pretty quickly.


The last stop was the place so enigmatically called The Winemaker Studio. We did not know what it was, but as it was recommended we decided that we should stop, it would be our last one and it is simply not possible to be the worse one comparing to the Duck Walk! Shall we just say it was brilliant! You can buy wines (all local, some made by the owner, some just displayed as good examples of local wines), you can taste them (they had around 7-8 for tasting, again just $2-4 for a tasting glass), but you can also have a very good sandwich, tapas or pincho, or even a substantial cheese or charcuterie board! It was magnificent. For the ones who are already tired of wines they had beer and gin tastings as well. For just $10 you can taste 3-4 gins, all local, expressing different flavours. I saw a few people taking full advantage of this offer!The wines were really good examples of what this land has to offer and again the gems were Cab Sav and Cab Franc - really good work on these classic French varieties.


If you come across Pellegrini Vineyards wines or the ones selected by The Winemakers Studio - we highly recommend you try! Beware of volume wines and smell / taste first prior to buying - there were much more unpleasant examples rather than good ones.


Enjoy and should you go and taste some more NY wines - let us know what you think! Cheers!

31 May 2014

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