Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrating Long Island’s East End: A Vacation in a Glass at the Astor Wine Center

When Steve Bate drove to the North Fork of Long Island for the first time, he was surprised at the working farms and vineyards in operation there. Since then its rise in popularity is obvious as visitors now call before-hand to ask what other events are happening. Since 2004 Steve has been Long Island Wine Council’s Executive Director, playing a large part in bringing the number of visitors to 1.3 million per year.

Winterfest in March, April’s Barrel-tastings, May’s Run For The Rosé’s ($1 from each bottle sold goes to Cancer research), and September Barrel Auction are just a handful of the events happening there. The East End has 49 wine producers and many were on hand at The Astor Wine Center to pour some of their samples. Here are a few of my favorites:

Channing Daughters 2007 Sculpture Garden
88% Merlot from the Sculpture Garden vineyard (the oldest on the South Fork, planted in 1982) and 12% Blaufrankisch from Sylvanus vineyard, aged in French and Slovenian oak barrels for twenty-two months.
Aromas of blue fruit, rosewater, dried flowers, and hints of smoke, with flavors of violets, cherries, currants and blueberries.

Jamesport Vineyards 2005 Melange de Trois
Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. Ocean breeze aromas open to mild, mineral earthtones, and smoked meats and tobacco with a delicious chewy palate, white pepper, sour cherry and a spicy cinnamon finish… soft, silky, smooth.

Wölffer Estates 2006 Fatalis Fatum
42% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 27.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Barbera, and aged 22 months in oak. Fragrant aromas of smoky bacon, red licorice, and a palate of blueberry, powdered violet candies, and sour cherries. Nicely integrated and finishes with very mild spice sprinkled over ripe cherries.

Castello di Borghese 2005 Merlot
Aged in French oak barrels for 13 months. Nose of black pepper spices, chalk, blue fruits, violets, and a lively, earthy palate.

Clovis Point 2007 Archaeology
56% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 6% Syrah, whew! Aromas of roses, glycerine, steel, blueberry, nicely balanced for its youth, but will be a keeper. Flavors of blue fruits, cola, crushed stones and plums.

(I know I’m partial to reds, so to be fair I also tried a Rosé)
Wölffer Estates 2008 Grandioso Rosé
Bouquet of peaches, honeysuckle, flavors of pears, kiwi, mineral, grapefruit rind, reminding me that Spring is Here!

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