East End Napa Valley

In wine on 07/23/2011 at 3:13 pm

At last count, there were 41 vineyards in the North Fork of Long Island, and 4 in the South Fork. So far, we’ve patronized about 10 of them. Of those, the other half approves of 2. Though the life of a wine-tasting aficionado is rough, we will work very hard to make our way through the 30 or so we have left to try.

During our wedding weekend in October, we will return to our favorite so far, Shinn Estate Vineyards, where, if we had cash leaking out of our ears, we would spend the night at their adjoining farmhouse and munch on local fare served up by the vineyard owner and sometime chef. The closest thing we can get to that are the weekend library wine tastings where you sit at rough hewn benches with 20 other people in the intimate winemaker’s lair and sip on reserve, limited batch-run bottles paired with haute hors d’oeuvres.

With our resident wine snob out of town for the weekend, it is up to me to introduce you to the other winery of our liking, Clovis Point Wines, situated at the head of the onslaught of vineyards along that northerly stretch.

What’s great and unique about this one? It’s a balance of a beautiful setting and fine wine craftsmanship. While Old Field vineyards is most picturesque of the ones we’d sampled so far (it’s all rambling farmland sprinkled with free-ranging geese and chicken), Clovis Point’s tasting room is in a modestly refurbished potato barn with enough exposed beams to give it a country feel. Some over-sized tasting rooms dressed in contemporary marble (i.e. Osprey’s Dominion) reek of consumerism and poor design taste.

The artist in me appreciates the rotating groupings of paintings hanging on the walls at Clovis Point. They are mostly on loan from a bunch of older ladies of the area who may or may not be willing to sell their work. There are galleries of landscapes in various styles, and still life of solitary fruit. They lend an air of elegance to the surroundings, and somehow make the wine taste better.

What about the vino?! Unlike most vineyards out here, Clovis Point buys most of the their grapes from surrounding farms, culls the best grapes and mixes combinations of varietals to come up with wine cocktails. The two owners act more like investors, relying on their winemaker to work his magic. The result? The best cabernet franc in the area, which is the prized local grape. Their other wines, reds and whites, are also equally well thought out elixirs, achieving a balance in aromas and taste. There is also a depth to them that is serious but not too heavy. It’s well worth a visit every season to see what new tricks they have up their sleeves.

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