I've waxed poetic about Finger Lakes wines for a while now, but New York State also houses a large area of viticulture on Long Island, especially on the North Fork. It's an interesting wine culture where many wineries take their vinicultural cues from other parts of the world, yet international grape varietals are also given a distinct local treatment. On a recent trip, I felt as if I was exploring Champagne and Provence, yet still encountered wines that were uniquely New York.
The first winery we stopped at was Sparkling Pointe, an aptly named place that produces sparkling wine. If you can get past the numerous marriage proposals (two that occurred nearly simultaneously) and bachelorette parties (I counted about 5 "Bachelorette!" sashes), it's interesting to experience the gamut of sparkling wines being produced out here. What I found most notable is that most of the wines are of a specific vintage and not a cuvee. What's the difference, you ask? Cuvees, which are blends made from various vintages, are created to ensure a consistent house style and quality. When a winery creates a bubbly based on a vintage, they are paying more attention to the weather and other climate factors that will affect their final product. I'm not sure why this is the path Sparkling Pointe has chosen; it could be they are still building their reserves, or perhaps they like the subtle variations in the vintages.
The Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2010 was an easy drinking bubbly with lots of pear notes up front and a little bit of baking bread on the palate. The texture was soft with very fine bubbles, slightly mousse-y on the tongue. It was simple yet perfect for a summer patio situation.
Next in the flight was the Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2007 (not pictured). The aging on this one gave more noticeable yeasty, savory tones to the wine and was a bit more complex and refined than the 2010.
Because sex sells, we were treated to the cheesily named Sparkling Pointe Brut Seduction, 2005. Luckily, the wine fared way better than its label name; complex toast notes met with floral sweetness and subtle fruit, creating a elegant bubbly.
The final wine was the sole cuvee, the Sparkling Pointe Cuvee Carnaval Blanc, NV. The sweetest of the bunch, the residual sugar lingered on the palate and the flavor profile immediately brought to mind a Moscato d'Asti. I could see this as a great pairing for dessert.
We hit the road and headed over to what promised to be my Nirvana: Croteaux, which is all rose, all the time.
The beautiful Provencal-inspired patio was the perfect venue to taste through six of their roses.
The Provence aesthetic clearly extended to the wines as most were in the light and crisp spectrum of roses, perfect for summer day drinking. I found most to be rather simple, but I did favor the Croteaux Merlot 3 Rose Cuvee, which was softer and a bit richer than the others, as well as the Croteaux Jolie, which was in an Italian rosato style, meaning a fuller body and richer fruits.
The final stop was to Corey Creek, an offshoot of the North Fork stalwart Bedell.
Here, I found myself drawn to their reds a bit more over their whites, including their Corey Creek Cabernet Franc, 2012, which is not normally in my wheelhouse. However, theirs was a bit rounder and softer than the underripe pepper and vegetal notes I often associate with Cab Franc. Their Corey Creek Merlot, 2012, too, avoided its soft fruit bomb association with a balance of soft tannins and spice.
While the North Fork is still working to stake its claim as a major player in the wine world, it's definitely worth a trip to seek out some of these hidden gems.
Keep tasting, friends....