New York! New York! Long Island Vintners Tasting

Today I went to a tasting with a bit of a difference in that it featured only wines from Long Island. It’s fascinating to think of vineyards just two hours from New York City and having been on a brillant tour of the Finger Lakes wine region last July in upstate New York it was good to add to the picture of New York State wines by focusing on those from Long Island. New York is home to five official wine regions, each with its own unique climate, scenery and character. These are Hudson River, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie and the Long Island region.  Long Island is descibed as ‘a laid-back maritime haven blessed with sunshine, sea and a long growing season’. At the city of Riverhead, Long Island splits into two forks, separated by Great Peconic Bay. Most of the wineries (67 bonded) are located on the north fork, with the remaining four on the south fork, better known as the Hamptons.   
The event was organised by Sue Chambers of Wine Equals , an independent online wine merchant for five wineries:  Paumanok, The Lenz Winery, McCall Wines (from the AVA of North Fork) and Channing Daughters and Wölffer Estate (from the Hamptons AVA). Sue is based in the UK and lives in Richmond, Surrey. There were 32 wines representing these five wineries at the tasting, held outside under a marquee in Sue’s garden.

Below is my pick of the best wines. Of the reds, my star wine was the Paumanok Petit Verdot Apollo Drive 2007 in magnum.  The wine comes from a plot of land called Apollo Drive. Dark ruby core,  blue-toned,  youthful blue rim. Sweet blackcurrant and spice notes, very clean and thankfully no green, herbaceous elements on the nose. A bit more weight and texture on the palate but not a big wine  – more of an infectiously lively wine with very good juicy acidity, and dark old fashioned liqourice flavours. Some of the structure of an elegant Bordeaux in a classic cooler year but with vivacious, lively fruit.  91/100

Mudd West Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 – Channing Daughters 95% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Chardonnay. £16.99. Pale lemon/ green tone, good intensity on the nose of flowers with subtle notes of lilac and elderflower, more come hither and appealing rather than the stridently green pepper aromas typical of Sauvignon Blanc.  Good flavour intensity, with a little spiciness on the finish. I liked the delicate elderflower character and lack of OTT hebaceousness. Softer delicate style. 90/100

Pinot Grigio 2009 – Channing Daughters, 100% Pinot Grigio £15.99. Very pale, soft appley and creamy nose. Much more flavour than most Pinot Grigio with a richer, creamy texture and fuller mid-palate, with an attractive note of bitter grapefruit pith on the finish. Bearing in mind Pinot Grigio is a fairly thick-skinned variety for a white grape, it can often have a bitter phenoic grip but this can be a good foil to some of its blander textural elements and adds length, just as bitter hops do to some beers.  Quite interesting balace overall 89/100

Clones 2008  –  Channing Daughters, 90% Chardonnay, 6% Tocai Friulano, 1% Gewürztraminer, 1% Aligoté, 1% Semillon, 1% Viognier.  £20.99. Pale lemon, very intense nose of slightly rotting apples, creamy, vegetal, cabbagey Burgundian elements. Lots of creamy weight and texture –  not sure if I totally like the flavours. But powerful, tangy, long acidity. The flavour has something like wet hay combining with a vegetal note that I am not fully convinced about, but intriguing. 89/100

Merlot 2008 – McCall, 100% Merlot £19.99. This was lighter than many typical Merlots but with very appealing, vivacious friut. Brighter ruby,  more youthful tone. Brighter black cherrry,  plum, vanilla and cream notes, bit like good Beaujolais on a good day in a great vintage like 2009. There is a very appealing sweetness to the fruit on the nose. On tasting it has a lively acidity with spicy plum flavours, and quite vivid curranty fruit – not a huge wine but fresh, lively and vibrant. I’ve heard their passion is Pinot Noir and based on this wine I can’t wait to try it. I can imagine they would handle the delicacy very well. 90/100

Dry Riesling 2009 – Paumanok, 100% Riesling, £18.99. Lovely clean aromatic nose, ripe apple, flowers , honey and lime. Similar flavours on palate, lime,  juicy acidity but just a bit more dilute in concentration. Pretty wine,  89/100

Chenin Blanc 2010 –  Paumanok, 100% Chenin Blanc, £19.99. Very pale lemon, nose of delicate bruised apple, creamy notes. Sharper green apple and honey flavours, nice balance of bitter-sweet flavours. 88/100

Late Harvest Riesling 12’s 2008 – Paumanok, 100% Riesling, £38.99. Old gold colour, very sweet honeysuckle notes on nose, hay-like, perfumed nose. Sweet round, creamy, peach like flavours with strong thread of lime juice acidity. 90/100

Perle Chardonnay 2008 – Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 100% Chardonnay (Dijon clone #76), £20.99. Very pale mother-of-pearl/white gold in colour. Creamy, leesy, butter notes –  quite Burgundian but not quite. Slightly cheesy notes. Creamy texture, oat mealy but with a much greener flavour underneath. Almost S B quality to fruit (minus the green pepper and plus the creamy, leesy, fuller texture).  89/100

Long Island Facts:

  • New York State’s newest wine region at 40 years old
  • Same latitude as Central Italy though the maritime influence of Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean give it a cool Bordeaux-like climate
  • Sandy loam and gravel soils and moderate climate with moderating influence of Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay Atlantic Ocean
  • Best known for its red wines, typically Bordeaux blends known as ‘Meritage’ wines in the US
  • Classic Bordeaux varieties – Cabermet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabermet Franc, Petit Verdot
  • Whites: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Gewurztraminer.


© 2011 – 2012, Susan Hulme MW. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked:*