A short trip to Long Island

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Although I have been to New York City twice over the last couple of years I have never been to Long Island and never tasted its wines.

Sue Chambers, an enterprising lady in Richmond, has taken it upon herself to import five Long Island producers into the UK. On 16 June, she showed 32 wines in her garden (!) – a brave move considering the recent weather.

The Channing Daughters white wines were usually a decent mouthful. I liked the Rosato di Cabernet Franc 2010, a vinous rosé with structure and depth. I wasn’t as keen on the reds, and certainly not the Pazzo 2004, a Merlot “fortified with neutral grape spirits and madeirized” (sic). It tasted like chocolate milkshake, which is fine if you’re a six- or eight-year old like my nephews – but I’m a grown man (doubtless some people would disagree). Robert Parker likes it, which confirms my suspicion that his palate was scarred for life by drinking nothing but coke until the age of 21.

Estate Merlot 2002 from The Lenz Winery was à point, like a good Côtes de Bourg. This was a good wine and worthy of its £21.99 price tag.

The Old Vines Cabernet 2002 was sweeter and punchier on the finish. Old Vines Merlot of the same vintage was self-consciously (as suggested by its vaunted £50.99 price) striving for size and power. Not my type.

Paumonok’s “dry” whites were rather sweet on the whole, though the Riesling was good clean fun. Its Late Harvest Riesling 12s 2009 was terrific, with lots of lush fruit and sugar.

Cabernet Franc 2008 was sui generis, showing liquorice flavours on the finish. The oak on the Tuthills Merlot 2007 was piled up like icing on a cake so that the tannins were swollen with all that wood. Assemblage 2007, however, was sexy and smooth, like a modernist St Émilion wine. I think a lot of people would like it.

Perle Chardonnay 2008 from Wolffer Estate had the white peach aroma of an Aussie “cool climate” Chardonnay – a good example of that style.

The honeyed and raisiny Diosa Late Harvest Chardonnay 2008, made by artificially freezing the grapes for two months, included 7% of the hybrid Vignoles grape. As the last of the 32 wines, its 222g/ltr of sugar almost made my teeth fall out.

There were some good wines, then, with blends that that include interesting (and occasionally weird) things like Dornfelder and Blaufränkisch. But the prices are sometimes hard to countenance…


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