Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Time to drink local, Time to drink Long Island Wines!

Only 85 miles separate New York from Long Island, making this wine region the closest one to home. I still remember one Memorial Day weekend, not long ago, when I decided to go over there to visit some of the wineries. I was impressed by the variety of grapes planted,  and especially with samples made from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay.

So, what is special about Long Island? It's a relatively young wine appellation and small. Vinifera varieties were first planted here by John Wickham in the 1960s, but the first commercial wines, made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, were produced 10 years later by the owners of Castello di Borghese: Louisa and Alex Hargrave.  
There are only three AVAs here, two were set up in the 1980s, the North Fork AVA, and the Hamptons AVA. The third and newest AVA, Long Island was set up in 2001. There are over 57 wine producers to visit, most of them, located in the northern fork, alongside route 25.

As we may see in the map above (courtesy of Long Island wines), both forks are surrounded by bodies of water, enjoying a similar tempered maritime climate like in Bordeaux. This is the main reason why we find many Bordelais vinifera varieties, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot & Merlot. The cool breezes from the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean have also proven fantastic to grow whites too, my favorites are Chardonnay (used to make sparkling and table wines), Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc.

Of course and due to its northerly location, at the beginning I had my doubts, but soon I discovered that these areas receive plenty of sun during the growing season, which allows most red grapes to attain full maturity.  Soils here are mostly sandy loam, haven loam and silty loam, with excellent drainage. Now, if I have to describe Long Island’s wine style, I will describe them as a cool climate, meaning very focused wines, with medium to medium + bodies, crisp acidity and very nice aromatics. Note that the reds tend to be more elegant and for sure less alcoholic than wines from warmer regions.  
Most wineries produce all styles of wines from whites, reds, rosés and sparkling, here is a delicious selection (thanks to Maria Calvert), that showcase their ample versatility:

Sparkling Pointe Vineyards Topaz Imperial 2019, North Fork Long Island ($44)
I love this winery’s slogan, if it’s not Sparkling what is the Pointe? This method Champenoise sparkling is a blend of 50 % Chardonnay with 34% Pinot Noir  and 16%  Pinot Meunier. It spends two years aging sur lie.
 A refreshing and vibrant nose opens up to strawberry shortcake and ripe yellow peach notes. Pastry aromas, crisp acidity and a touch of minerality makes this a very flavorful bubbly.
Paumanok Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2021, North Fork Long Island ($29)
Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this wine is completely fermented in stainless steel vats. Very expressive on the nose, showing a tropical bouquet of ripe pineapple and white peach, with citrusy lime on the palate. Medium bodied with lively acidity and an exotic finish.

RGNY Viognier 2020,
North Fork Long Island ($35)
Made from 100 % Viognier, this full bodied white reveals notes of apricots, mango and vanilla from aging in oak. Creamy and textured with balanced acidity. 20% of this wine was aged in second hand oak for 2 months.

McCall Wines Estate Pinot Noir 2015, North Fork Long Island ($30)
Made from sustainable grown 100% Pinot Noir. This elegant light-bodied red shows  aromas of red cherry, strawberry preserves, forest floor and clove. Juicy acidity is complemented very nicely by smooth and supple tannins.

Sannino Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2019, North Fork Long Island ($35)
If there’s one grape in the world that thrives in Long Island’s terroir, that is Cabernet Franc, so do explore them!. This medium bodied red meshes raspberry, savory dry herbs and pencil shaving notes. A very easy red to drink every night of the week.

Suhru Wines Shiraz 2021, North Fork Long Island ($25)
Last but not least, a blend of 77% Shiraz, 12% Teroldelgo and 11% Petit Verdot.
This almost full bodied red features blackberry and ripe plums notes with spicy black pepper and milk chocolate hints. This beauty was aged for 7 months in American oak. Savory!

Isn't it time we go local and drink some of these? If so, let me know your favorites. Until the next one! Cheers, Silvina.

#thoughtsoflawina #longislandwines #liwines #newsyorkwines #newyork

Remember to subscribe to receive Thoughts of La Wina in your inbox and to follow me on Linkedin and Instagram @: Silvinalawina.