What Drove My Palate Back To Wine

You all know that I took a break from wine — I talked about it last week.

From Shoreline Beverage Facebook Page

But the real thing that drove me back to wine; the one thing that made me dust off the old tasting notebook.  A display I saw in one of my favorite beer shops.  While that is not the real picture, I knew that my beer drinking and tasting would come to an abrupt end.

I loath pumpkin beer.  There is just not one I have tried that I like and I really cannot see spending money on such ales.  But it’s not just Pumpkin beers, it’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin, cookies, pumpkin candles — just about anything that has the combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter.

I don’t mind harvest ales.  I like Oktoberfest beer.  But please oh please don’t brew with pumpkin extract, canned pumpkin or add pumpkins to your boil.  The just will not do it for me.

So, it’s back to wine for me.  And back to tasting notes.  While I will dabble in the beer world, it’s gong to be porters and stouts for me now in the forseeable future.  Goodbye until next year by beloved Kölsch, Hefeweizen, Saisons, summer ale and pilsner’s.  I’ll see you soon enough, but will miss your terribly.

Oh the thought of pumpkin ale!
From redding.com

Posted in Beer, Long Island | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Martha Clara Vineyards 2009 Merlot

The 2009 vintage on Long Island had one of the longest growing seasons on record.  Thanks in part to an extend spectacular fall that allowed vineyards to hang fruit a bit longer.  Most of the white wines I tasted from the 2009 vintage have been some of the best in my opinion.  And now that some of the 2009 red wines are coming across our table they are becoming very distinctive wines that show ripeness and balance.

This Merlot from Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead is a fine example with some time decanted.

Martha Clara Vineyards 2009 Merlot ($20) shows alot of typical Long Island notes, like plum, cherry and spice.

initially, the nose was reductive with a notes of sulfur, but after some time in the glass and decanting, those aroma’s blew off.  I was then picking up notes of Plum, sour cherry, dried herbs, fresh earth, clove spice and tobacco.

The palate brought notes of plum and sour cherry again with some vanilla, espresso, chocolate and spice.  The tannins were chewy with a nice amount of acidity to make this a food friendly wine.


*I received this bottle as a sample from the vineyard
Posted in 2009, Long Island, Martha Clara, Merlot | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

While I Was On The Disabled List

A while back when I was not blogging, I mentioned what I did while I was not blogging.  It was mainly exploring the world of beer.

Well I was at it again.  This time, I got a little more into beer.  Tasting more, enjoying more and finding our more about the world of craft beer.  I even got into a little hop harvest action.

I love craft beer.  Everyone should get into craft beer.  That’s where the flavor is and the fun is.  There are so many new and exciting beers out there and more and more craft breweries opening.  Look around, you probably have one in your neighborhood.

So here is what I tasted and enjoyed while I was not drinking wine.

Posted in Craft Beer | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Channing Daughters Winery 2010 Scuttlehole Chardonnay

Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton has one of the largest portfolios on Long Island.  Their white wine offerings are incredible and some of my favorite on the east end.

I noticed the very first sentence on the back of this chardonnay bottle from Channing Daughters — “We Love Chardonnay!”  In fact they love it so much that currently they have three 100% chardonnay offerings and 6 wines where chardonnay is blended together to make some of their other white and orange wines.

Channing Daughters Winery 2010 Scuttlehole Chardonnay ($17) is a delight, but it gets even better with time in the glasse as it come closer to room temperature.  The grapes from this vintage come from both North and South fork to make this a true Long Island wine.

The nose brings fresh sliced apple with river rock minerality and ocean water salinity.  Pear and citrus fruit linger in the background with some subtle grass and citrus pith.

The palate brings bright clean acidity with a hint of spice — think white pepper.  The apple and pear notes are prevalent, but the minerality of the wine takes center stage on the palate.

Photo from Channing Daughters

Crisp and refreshing cold, as the wine warms the tree fruit -apple and pear- really shine through.  Stainless steel fermented, this bottle saw no oak.  This is from the 2010 vintage, one of the hottest on Long Island, and it showed great balance between the flavors, acidity and alcohol.  One of my favorite 2010 white wines.

One interesting note about this bottle that I found out.  It came to full room temperature and it shows some wonderful floral notes, something I was not expecting.  Please don’t serve this wine ice-cold.  Take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you pour you glass.  You will be rewarded with a delicious bottle of wine that shows wonderful aroma’s and flavors.  And at under $20, it shows tremendous value.


Posted in 2010, Channing Daughters, Chardonnay, Long Island | Leave a comment

Dusting Off The Tasting Notebook

June 19th was a long time ago.

That was the last time I penned a blog post.

Who’s to blame? What’s to blame? What were you doing? How Come?

Some important questions that may come from once thing and many things.  But for now, I will pin it as this — palate fatigue, palate malaise, palate block, palate disenchantment.

No matter what wine I tasted, except for a few, none of them had that spark.  They all kinda seemed to be similar with nothing distinctively different.  No matter what region the wine was from — Long Island or Willamette Valley or Mendocino or Loire..it just did not get me going.  I needed jumper cables for my dead battery.

However, some things changed with my palate and I plan on sharing those with you over the next few weeks.  I worked out those kinks, gave my palate almost a month off and over the last week or so, things started to come around.

Fear not, I am back and Long Island is in my sights.

Posted in Long Island | 1 Comment

Coffee Pot Cellars 2010 Chardonnay

Coffee Pot Cellars is the personal label of Osprey Dominion‘s winemaker Adam Suprenant.  Adam has made wine at Osprey’s Dominion for over a decade.  He has been itching to make his own under his own name for some time and starting with 2008, everything fell into place.

Adam does not own a vineyard, which is something that you see from some wine makers on the North Fork; think Jim Waters, Anthony Nappa, Erik Bilka and John Leo to name some.  With his years of working on the North Fork, he has built relationships with various growers.  These relationships that he has built are going into the bottles that Adam calls Coffee Pot Cellars.

The name Coffee Pot Cellars gets it’s inspiration from something many have seen and is very much a part of the North Fork.  Entering the North Fork via ferry at Orient Point, you will notice the lighthouse.  It is a Coffee Pot Light House, hence the name.  It does not matter if you begin or end your travel on the north fork, Coffee Pot Light House is there.

Adam has 4 wines now in his portfolio.  Coffee Pot Cellars 2010 Chardonnay ($16) is one that kept me coming back to the glass.

Made with grapes from Sam McCullough Vineyard in Aquebogue.  ( He also gets his Merlot grapes from there as well)  This Chardonnay shows the 2010 vintage well.  Ripe, fresh fruit with hints of long hot growing season.  It’s fermented in neutral oak barrels and did not go through Malo-lactic fermentation.

On the nose I was picking up hints of Apple, lemon, lemon curd and orange zest.  There was some hints of brioche, apple skin and tropical.  The brioche and yeasty notes were as a result of the ageing of the wine on the yeast used to ferment the wine, also know as sur lies ageing.

The palate brought more apple and lemon notes with more tropical flavors and a hint of white pepper spice.

The wine showed bright and clean and the acidity was crisp and refreshing.  It did show some of it’s 13% abv, but mostly as it came to room temperature.

This wine can be purchased on Coffee Pot Cellars web site and at the Greenport Farmers Market.


Posted in 2010, Chardonnay, Coffee Pot Cellars, Long Island | Leave a comment

Jamesport Vineyards 2007 “Sidor” Syrah Reserve

IMG-20120115-00002I have told many of my friends, that if it were not for Cabernet Franc, I might have been a Syrah fan.  Which means that if Syrah were planted more on the North Fork, you might find more Syrah in my cellar than Cabernet Franc.

I love the meaty, peppery characteristic that one gets from Syrah and sometimes it can get a little funk, which is always a plus in my book.  And if you can blend a little Viognier then you are really in my wheel house.  To pay homage t the Côte-Rôtie region of France here with Syrah on Long Island will most likely get me to make sure I go home with a few bottles.

The Jamesport Vineyards 2007 “Sidor” Reserve Syrah ($45) does not have any Viognier in it, but not to worry, it still is worth every penny.  A blend of 62% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot captures the 2007 vintage beautifully.  This reserve named “Sidor” because it comes from their Sidor farm in Mattituck.

On the nose the glass was filled with notes of earth, spice, mineral and in the back ground hints of fruit.  Graphite, gunpowder, forest floor ground pepper and exotic spice lead the way with hints of plum, blackberry, cherry and fresh prune.  Vanilla, smoke and cedar round out the back end of the nose.

The palate packs more juicy fruit than the nose does with plum, cherry blackberry and grilled fig leading the way.  Hints of chocolate, graphite, mushroom, smoke and vanilla.

Bright acidity and chewy tannins fill the mouth with a clean finish of cherry, vanilla and tobacco.


*I received this bottle as a sample from the vineyard

Posted in 2007, Jamesport Vineyards, Long Island, Syrah | Leave a comment

A Little Siesta — Back From My Mexican Vacation

For the better part of May, Undertaking Wine was six feet under, pun intended.

The early part of May was spent at TasteCamp in Northern Virginia.  After that, I was home for less than a week, then off to the Mexican Rivera in beautiful Puerto Adventuras.

It gave me little time to put some  blog posts up about TasteCamp or what I was tasting recently.  While I thought I could get some done on vacation, traveling with an almost two-year old surrounded by his grandparents and uncles and aunt, made that idea impossible.

Have no fear, I have returned.  Getting readjusted at work and going through some Medford Chamber Stuff, I had some time to write and finished a few posts this weekend.  I should get back into the swing of things later today.


Posted in Long Island, News | 1 Comment

TateCamp 2012: Northern Virginia

Tomorrow I will be hitting the road to head to TasteCamp 2012.  This will be my second TasteCamp.  My first was to the Finger Lakes back in 2010.  After missing out on the Niagara TasteCamp of last year, I am eagerly awaiting my return.  TasteCamp 2012 will be visiting the wine trails of Norther Virginia.

So, what is TasteCamp?  Here is a little snippet exactly what TasteCamp is:

The concept for TasteCamp is a simple one: getting enthusiastic journalists and bloggers together in a region that is new to them to taste as much wine as possible and speak to as many winemakers as possible over the course of a weekend.

Most smaller, lesser-known wine regions in the world would love to get their wines in front new audiences, it can be a challenge.  With TasteCamp, the new audience comes to them.

This is not a junket — attendees pay their own travel expenses — including for their hotel rooms — and meals.  Through generous sponsors, some meals may be deeply discounted.

My agenda will be packed with opportunities to speak to winemakers, wine growers and vineyard owners.  I will have and opportunity, along with 40 other writers to experience the Norther Virginia Wine Country first hand with grand tastings,  vineyard dinners and a highlight for me is vineyard walks.  These enable us to get into Virginia Wine and get a feel for the place these wines come from.  The greatest experience from my first TasteCamp was the Vineyard walk at Daminai Vineyards in the FInger Lakes.  There is no better way to understand wine and the winemaking process than to walk the fields where the grapes grow that become the wine you and I enjoy.

I hope that you will all enjoy the posts that I will write about my experiences in VA Wine Country.  If you follow me on twitter, there will be alot of tweeting.  Follow the #tastecamp hastag and you will be fully educated by those that attend TasteCamp.  For more information about this TasteCamp, please visit their website.

Here is the agenda that I awaits us in Virginia:

Friday, May 4
11:15 a.m.: Depart National Conference Center Transportation sponsored byVisitLoudoun.com
Noon – 2 p.m.: Welcome and lunch with Boxwood WinerySponsored by Boxwood Winery
2 – 3:30 p.m.: Grand tasting of Virginia Wines at Boxwood Vineyards.
Confirmed wineries: Ankida Ridge, Annefield, Barboursville, Boxwood, Blenheim, Gadino, Glass House, Hume, Notaviva, Paradise Spring, Pearmund, Rappahannock and White Hall
4 – 5 p.m.: Check-in at National Conference Center
5:15 p.m.: Depart National Conference Center
6 – 9 p.m.: Dinner at Breaux VineyardsSponsored by Breaux Vineyards
Saturday, May 5
8:00 a.m.: Depart National Conference Center Transportation sponsored by VisitLoudoun.com
8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: Vineyard walk and tasting at Fabbioli Cellars
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Grand tasting of Virginia Wines at Tarara Vineyards
Confirmed wineries: Bluemont, Corcoran, Delaplane, General’s Ridge, Horton, Loudoun Valley, Narmada, Philip Carter, Stinson and Zephaniah
12:30 – 2:30 p.m.: Lunch with Tarara Vineyards Sponsored by Tarara Vineyards and VirginiaWine.org
3 – 4:30 p.m.: Vineyard walk at Tranquility Vineyard and Tasting of 8 Chains North and Otium Cellars wines
5:30 p.m.: Depart National Conference Center
6 – 9 p.m.: BYO dinner at North Gate Vineyards, with BBQ by Smokin’ Willy
Sunday, May 6
8:30 a.m.: Depart National Conference Center Attendees drive themselves
10 a.m. – noon: Visit and tasting at Linden Vineyards
Noon: TasteCamp 2012 Closes

Many thanks go out to the Host Wineries, the wineries who take their time out to meet up with us at the tastings, the wineries that host the vineyard walks and the founder of TasteCamp, Lenn Thompson and the team that put this together, Remy Charest, Frank Morgan and John Witherspoon.

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Posted in Event, Non Long Island, TasteCamp, Wine | 1 Comment

Memories That Will Last Forever From A Bottle of Wine — Remembering Grandpa One Year Later

One year ago today, on Sunday, May 1, 2011, my grandpa, “Charlie” Lorey left us.  After a 10 month battle with congestive heart failure and a wonderful Easter Sunday dinner, my grandpa’s heart could not bear the struggle no more.  Shortly after 5:00 am on that Sunday morning, surrounded by his my grandmother, mom and uncle, he took his last breath.  “A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands at rest.”  A line from the back of his prayer card, that without question was my grandpa.

Retiring from one of the greatest jobs in the world Rhinegold Brewery, at the ripe old age of 45, thanks mainly to an injury on the job, he assumed a new job, grandpa.  Growing up, my Grandpa Lorey lived about 15 minuets from our house.  He always seemed to be around, whether my grandparents over our house or we over there, it just seemed like I saw him every day.

There were trips to the trailer, my grandparents have about 5 acres in Roxbury, NY.  My grandfather was a hunter.  He hunted deer.  It seemed like every winter there was venison at one meal or another.  I can still remember waking up and sitting in the little 10 x 50 trailer looking out the back window over the stream on a snow-covered forest waiting for my grandfather to appear with his prized catch.  I can still see him in his hunting gear, bow over his shoulder walking through the woods with his two pointer fingers on top of his head like they were antlers.  My brothers and I could not be happier.  “Grandpa caught a deer!”

I can also remember as I grew up and was able to ride my bike on my own, I would take a ride weekly to their house.  It was fun to ride to the other end of Glendale to visit.  In the summer months, grandpa was always in his yard.  Talking with the neighbors, working on his car or just working on stuff.  He always had alot of stuff to do.

Then there were the summers in Baiting Hollow at the bungalow.  The long walk to the beach and sitting on grandpa’s lap as he relaxed on his vinyl lounge chair.  That was Woodcliff Park.

I remember when I was going to buy my first car, I made sure Grandpa Lorey was there to take it for a test drive.  It was a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, convertible, rust orange with a white top.  It was beautiful.  He thought it was too.  But he told me in so many words and so nicely so that I would not but it.  It went something like, “You know, this is going to burn alot of oil.”

The first time I changed my oil, he was there.  The first time I fixed my breaks he was there.  The first time I needed to change my alternator, he was there.  My grandfather could take apart an engine and put it together, probably with is eyes closed.

Grandpa Lorey taught me how to shoot a .22, change a tire, sweat a pipe, run electric, use a bow and arrow, replace a rack and pinion.  He taught me how to crab with chicken parts and a string, he made me my fishing pole, and he help me fix some stuff around the house.

The night before he died, he taught us how to be a family.  One by one, all of his grandchildren made it to St. Francis hospital.  We knew it was happening.  He did to.  We all had swollen red eyes, handful of tissues in our hands, lumps in our throats, but smiles on our faces.  His one liners kept the room light, though our sadness was bringing it down.  “So, this is what its like to die, all this waiting, well it’s some shit!”  Singing some of Jimmy Durante’s “Inka Dinka Do”.

One by one we all said goodnight and see you later to grandpa.  My mom, my uncle and my grandmother never left his side and when he took his last breath around 5:15am that morning, they were there.

For those of you who knew him from my childhood, he was the one who would walk around sleeveless showing off his tattoos that had grown faded over the years.  He was the one who would come and pick us up from school in is white 1968 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme with this latest catch on the back of the car.  He was a deer hunter and a might fine one at that.  Most of his catches were with his bow and arrow and it was the coolest to see that deer, gutted, with arrow sticking out, sitting on top of his trunk.

I could go on for ever telling stories about grandpa and what he was like.  Those stories will be shared for years to come with Gabe.  And those stories will be how he is remembered in my heart and mind.  But I have just one more story that fits nicely with my hobby.

On Easter Sunday last year, my grandfather made the trip out east to have Easter dinner with us all.  Surrounded by all of his family, some of us thought that this could be the last holiday together.  His heart was weak and it was alot for him to make the stairs, but he did.  We had his favorite meal, as we have been having for quiet some time on Easter, Suaerbraten.  While it was not venison, it was a delicious piece of meat, the potato balls and the red cabbage made this a perfect meal.

As I always do, I pick the wine.  There was some german reisling, some pinot noir, and some gamy noir.  And one lone bottle of Cabernet Franc.  Roanoke Vineyards 2008 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc.  Buying futures is a bonus if you have the opportunity.  I did and I am glad I did.  At the time it was not released, it may have been too soon to drink, but I wanted to share this bottle with all and with the meal.

We all sat down for dinner and I made sure everyone had what the wanted to drink.  I asked Grandpa what he wanted, he asked for a glass of wine, red to be specific.  I grabbed what I was drinking, Gabby’s Franc.  He just wanted a half a glass.  With two sips he wanted more.  When I came back to pour him another one, he said, “Michael, that is the best wine I have had in a long time, light and fruity almost sweet.  Very delicious.  Thank You.”

Wine creates conversation and builds memories.  Every bottle that we drink is for a purpose.  It rounds out a meal and makes everything about the event complete.  I can forget about the story of that bottle, what went into it, how made it, how it was made.  It is a fault of mine.  Most of the time, what I remember most the occasions and the moments like I had with my grandfather.  It is important to remember what goes into the bottle, but sometimes it more important to remember what you get out of the bottle.

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Long Island, Roanoke Vineyards, Story, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Paumanok Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc


The 2011 vintage could have been one of the wettest ones on record, especially on the back-end of it.  After a stellar 2010 growing season, mother nature brought us back to reality.  A cooler growing season matches this cool climate wine region.  Some might say that 2011 is closer to what we should expect in this maritime climate.

What will you expect with 2011 white wines: you will hear lower alcohol, lower yields, higher acidity, and aromatic wines.

Paumanok Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($24) is a staple on many a table at summer picnic’s and dinner tables.  It will not disappoint and already, it has me craving scallops.

The nose brings grapefruit, lemon, fresh cut grass and fresh cut herbs.  Melon, think honeydew and some tropical notes.  There was a hint of gooseberry on the nose, but after a few hours open, it disappeared.

The palate was packed with more lemon than grapefruit with a bit more herbaceous showing.  Ocean water salinity and fresh rain minerality rounded out the palate.

Bright clean acidity was most noticeable, which made we want some shellfish.  Moderate lemony clean finish with hints of grapefruit and herbs.


Posted in 2011, Long Island, Paumanok Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc | 2 Comments

Something Old, Something New — a Peconic Bay Wine Dinner at Jewel

James Silver, Peconic Bay Winery‘s General Manager, hit the nail on the head when he said that this dinner was old meeting new.  Jim, was talking about older wine from Peconic Bay Winery meeting a new restaurant, Jewel that is part of Tom Schaudel restaurant line up.

On Sunday night, February 12 (i know, it was a while ago) over 100 people filled Jewel to attend a very special vertical wine dinner.  Peconic Bay does not often do wine diners, and after this one I wonder why not!  Not many vineyards do vertical dinners with older wines and after this dinner I have to ask again, why not!

When guests arrived we were offered two choices Nantique Blanc de Blanc or Nantique Esprit de Blanc.  Both white wine blends the only difference was the EdB was sparkling.  Both very nice everyday drinking white wines.  They went well with the past hors d’oeuvre.

When it came time for dinner, we took over the restaurant.  It was a site to see, everyone had three glasses in front of them waiting for the first vertical of wines to be poured.

Photo taken by Peconic Bay Winery

Tom prepared a pan seared Diver Scallop dish with Thai red curry red rice and roasted pineapple sambal.  It was paired with Peconic Bay’s 2000, 2006 and 2010 Riesling.  The dish was delicious and the pairing with the wines was perfect.  While we waited for the dinner to be served, I took a small taste.  I really loved the 2010 Riesling.  Minerals and packed with tree fruit it was bright clean and crisp.  The 2006 was a bit more austere.  Minerals and flowers with subtle hints of apple, melon and pear.  And the 2000 was a beautiful golden color, delicious aromas of pineapple, apple, dried apricots and clover honey.  Bright clean acidity gave the lush wine some kick.  It was a great wine with the dinner.   While I really loved the 2000, the 2006 seemed to enhance the dish and the dish no doubt enhanced the wine.  I wanted more and could have had that same dish time and time again.

But there was some older Merlot waiting for us.

The next dish was Roasted Stuffed filet Mignon with home-made Tater tots, baby carrots, black pepper glaze and a beautiful black truffle shaving on top.  Paired with the meal was Peconic Bay’s 2001, 2005 and 2009 Merlot.  Not a bad Merlot poured was in my glass.  Every single one went perfectly with the dish and it was so hard to pick one that was my favorite.  The 2001 was cool and relaxed with hints of earth, dried cherry, violets, tobacco, cedar and plum.  Well balanced, delicious and alive with bright acidity.  The 2005 might have been my favorite if you really forced me to pick one.  Cherry, plum, blackberry, earth and cedar box filled the glass.  I finished this wine with my last mouthful of food.  The 2009 showed huge potential as to where this wine could go.  I could see this in years from now just like the 2001.  Bright Bing cherry, ripe plum, raspberry, and fresh earth.  Cedar box again and hints of herb, chocolate and spice.  Of course the acidity and tannins were bigger since it was younger, but this wine has the potential of being something special in years to come.

Photo taken by Peconic Bay Winery

Next up was one of the main reasons we went to this dinner.  A cheese plate.  I am going to say this with intent: Every wine dinner should always have a cheese plate.  I would rather a cheese plate than a desert place, but that is just me.  The cheese was paired with the 2007 Lowerre Family Estate Red.  And what a pairing it was.  I never had the LFE Red prior to tonight but it went perfectly with the cheese.  Such a beautiful wine.  At this point of the night I really was really just enjoying my time there with Melissa.  I promised her that I would not take notes or “geek” out.  It was hard, but I did.  I just enjoyed this plate and savored every sip of the wine.  I can tell you, I will be out to pick up a few bottles of this and hold on to them, they are a delicious well made wine.  I had a second pour with my cheese plate, the only time that night I asked for more wine.

Photo taken by Peconic Bay Winery

The desert portion was an absolutely delicious dish.  There is nothing I love more for desert than some toffee, butterscotch or anything that resembles it.  Tom made up a Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramelized  banana, pecan brittle and butterscotch sauce.  It was paired deliciously with Peconic Bay’s 2010 Polaris, a chardonnay desert wine.

It was a memorable meal with some memorable wines.  It’s nice to have vineyards who can dip into their library and do a vertical tasting with a meal.  It’s not often that we get to keep a bottle and let it get some age on it. Peconic Bay did that for us and Jewel allowed us to gather and cherish something old and something new.

Posted in Event, Food, Long Island, Peconic Bay Winery, Winery Dinner | Leave a comment

Leo Family Cellars 2007 Red

John Leo has a cult following as a winemaker out on the North Fork.  That is my honest opinion. He is a consulting winemaker for Premium Wine Group in Mattituc; the winemaker at Clovis Point Vineyards and now he has his own wine in bottle, Leo Family Cellars.

John Leo has been in the wine industry for years now, originally from the Hudson Valley.  It all started for John in the wine industry in the early 80’s.  But it started on here back in 1994 when the John and his family moved here to Long Island.  Working with various people he landed a job with Pellegrini and eventually wound up with Russel Hearn, winemaker at Pellegrini, and owner of Premium Wine Group a custom crush company in Mattituck.

In 1999 he started to get into wine production when he was allowed to tend to 2 acres of vines in the hopes of turning it into his own wine.  He did all the maintenance on those vines; pulled leaves, snipped clusters thinning them out, harvesting by hand, learing the techniques that would help hone is talents in the cellar.  John waited for the right time to make that wine he always wanted to make.  He made wine each year, but in his opinion it was never good enough to bottle and put his name on it.  Eight years later, Long Island was blessed with 2007.  And John Leo felt the time was right.  The first vintage of the Leo Family Cellars would be born.

Leo Family Cellars 2007 Red ($40) is a Merlot based blend.  The Merlot (which is 80%) comes from the two acres he tends to, which is now at Pellegrini Vineyards, 7 % Syrah which come from Schneider Vineyards, 6% Petite Verdot from Russel Hearn’s vineyard in Peconic, 5% Cabernet Franc from a vineyard in Greenport and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon from Clovis Point.

The nose brings aromas of cherry, blackberry, plum, blueberries and warm bramble.  Earth and spic with notes of savory herbs and hints of smoke and dried flowers compose the aroma’s in my glass.

The palate is packed with concentrated red, blue and black fruit. Distinct chocolate and coffee aroma with hints of sweet vanilla, spice and dried cherries.  Tobacco and cedar notes round out the palate.

Velvet smooth tannins, and the bright acidity are well-balanced and really bring the fruit front and center.

A delicious, well made wine.  It kept me captivated for well over 3 days in the bottle.

It may have taken John Leo eight years to release his first wine, and it was worth the wait. I hope we don’t wait another 8 years.

Leo Family Red can be purchased at The Winemaker Studio on Peconic Lane in Peconic.

And for those of you who are fans of John, be sure to check out the last of John’s Winemakers Series Dinners at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor on April 26th.  I hope to make it to this dinner, the menu looks incredible.  You will be able taste this wine along with all of the wines he makes for Clovis Point Vineyards.


*I received this bottle as a sample from the vineyard
Posted in 2007, Leo Family Cellars, Long Island, Red Wine | 2 Comments

Clovis Point 2007 Vintner’s Select Merlot

IMG-20111122-00077Clovis Point is slowly gaining some attention.  Their reds have captured my attention since I first visited them on a beautiful summer day back in 2005.  They may be under the radar for some, which is a shame.  They should be a must visit for everyone who goes out wine tasting on the North Fork.  A boutique winery in Jamesport makes some delicious chardonnay, bot steel and barrel fermented and some distinctive Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend from grapes grown on the estate with a delicious Syrah that is usually hard to come by.  All made under the direction of winemaker John Leo.

Clovis Point 2007 Vintner’s Select Merlot ($35) is only made when the winemaker feels that the grapes harvested warrant this special designation.  2007 was a great vintage on Long Island so it was a no brainer to make a Vintner’s Select that year.

The nose bring ripe concentrated mélange of berries and fruit.  Plum leads the way with blackberry, raspberry and blueberry in the back ground.  Cherry and pomegranate appear in-between warm spice notes of clove, nutmeg and coriander.  Black pepper and fresh bay leaf come in secondary with things of fresh roasted espresso and smoky cedar and cigar box aroma.

The palate brings a burst of ripe berry bramble.  Plum, blueberry, black berry and cherry lead the way with some notes of earth, mineral and more ground coffee.  Sweet vanilla bean and cedar hidden in the back ground with a hint of toast.

Bright acidity with velvety tannins, follow a clean finish of mint, smoke, cedar and sweet plum.

Next time you are on the North Fork make sure you taste through their portfolio and take a bottle of this home for that special dinner.


Posted in 2007, Clovis Point, Long Island | 2 Comments

Suhru 2009 Shiraz

IMG-20120106-00086Syrah is not planted in every vineyard here on Long Island.  Shiraz is even harder to find here on Long Island.

That second sentence is just in jest, Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, it is just called different names around the world with Shiraz used mainly in Australia.  It pays tribute to Russell Hearn, the winemaker who is from Australia.

Suhru Wins is the brand created by Susan & Russell Hearn.  Su for Susan.  H for Hearn and Ru for Russell.  Russell Hearn, Australian born winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue, he is also the founding partner of Premium Wine Group, a custom crush facility in Mattituck.  Susan, Russell’s wife is the face of Suhru and the driving force behind Suhru.

Suhru does not have a vineyard per se.  They currently produce 5 wines, a red blend, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz Rose, Riesling and Shiraz.  Their fruit is sourced from various vineyard sites in the Finger Lakes and the North Fork.

Suhru 2009 Shiraz ($22) is a blend of 95% Shiraz, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon from the North Fork of Long Island is a delicious wine that makes you stop and think that Syrah/Shiraz can be made here on Long Island under the right conditions and in the right hands.

On the nose I was picking up aromas of ground pepper, blackberry, raspberry, cherry and plum.  Earthy and spicy with notes of coriander and cardamom, hints of savory herb and dried mint.  There is a floral note with a hint of smoky gunpowder.

The palate brought big berry notes, more ground pepper and smoky notes with a taste of vanilla and sweet ripe fruits.

Bright acidity and soft approachable tannins filled my mouth with a moderate finish of ground pepper, mint and plum.

Sealed under screw cap or also know as Stelvin closures, this is a perfect wine to bring to that early summer BBQ or with grilled pizza.  This bottle along with all of Suhru’s wines can be purchased at The Winemakers Studio on Peconic Lane in Peconic, NY


Posted in 2009, Long Island, Syrah | Leave a comment

Roanoke Vineyards 2008 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc

There are a handful of single vineyard offerings here on Long Island.  Sometimes I wish there would be a few more.  It would give people an opportunity to understand terrior and how the slightest slope of the land, how thinning of the leaves or the way the sun hits the vineyard in the morning affects the fruit of the vine.

When Joe Roberts better known as the dude at “1 Wine Dude” came up with the idea of a “Single’s Night”.  I wanted to jump all over it.  Sure, the task would be pricy, but well worth it.  The object of this 75th edition of “Wine Blogging Wednesday” was to crack open that single vineyard bottle of wine and talk about it.

When Joe announced it, I knew what I was going for.  In my opinion this is the ultimate single vineyard offering from a vineyard.  Just 12 rows of Cabernet franc.  The eastern most 12 rows if you visit their tasting room on Sound Avenue.  12 rows of Cabernet franc maintained by Gabby Pisacano, father of co-owner Rich Pisacano.  Hence, this is where the name Gabby’s Franc comes from.

Here is a little back story about those 12 rows from my review of the 2007 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc:

“It was the winter of 2005, Gabby had been working under Rich, tending to the red wines vines that grow on the Roanoke Vineyards site on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.  Gabby had a thought and he demanded that he take over the 12 eastern most rows of Cabernet Franc.  You can see those rows from the tasting room; off the side patio look to the vines and the 12 rows  in front of you are Gabby’s.  Rich really had no choice, and he gave those rows to his father.  Gabby is the only one who tends to the vines, no one else touches the fruit.”  “Gabby’s thought on the Cabernet Franc is a simple thought, that he could manage the “Twelve Rows” as they are widely known, “if he ultra-manicured the vines, so that each grape had perfect exposure to the sun and wind, and that there was plenty of space around the fruit for the breeze to circulate, his rows would avoid any disease pressure and ultimately deliver pristine fruit.” that according to his bio on Roanoke Vineyards website.”

Gabby’s Franc has a bit of a cult following.  It is released each year on his birthday, September 25.  There is about 100 cases made each year.  By the end of the weekend, it is always sold out.  Only to make appearances from time to time at special tastings, to wine club members and of course in the Roanoke Vineyards Library.

Tasting this wine tonight with little time to open is not doing it justice.  Roanoke Vineyards 2008 ‘Gabby’s” Cabernet Franc ($39).   This wine will last for days in bottle as you can note from my 2006 and 2007 notes and posts.

Tonight on the nose I was picking up notes of raspberry, cherry, spice and smoke.  Those aroma’s were lifting out of the glass along with hints of tobacco, sweet cedar and clove.  Some sweet vanilla and hints of what I will describe as wine cellar come out.  I love that aroma.

The palate brings more earth and spice with hints of cherry, and raspberry with mint and dried bay leaf.  Fresh ground coffee, exotic spice and dried oregano blend on the palate.

Packed with food friendly acidity and well integrated tannin this wine has the potential to age a while.

If you are a franc head like me, this is a wine you cannot miss out on.  There is a sing up list for the 2009 Gabby’s which will be released in September.  Sign up for some.  It is worth it.

Special thanks to the Dude for hosting and big thanks to Lenn Thompson over at the New York Cork Report for coming up with this idea over 75 months ago!

On a side note, there is a special post that is related to this wine that I will publish at Easter.  It is about my last Easter meal with my family that my Grandfather was at.  About a week after Easter 2011 he died.  This bottle of Gabby’s 2008 Cabernet Franc was open at the table and this was the last wine he ever had.  

Posted in 2008, Cabernet Franc, Long Island, Roanoke Vineyards | Leave a comment