Sunday, May 3, 2009

TasteCamp East!

I spent this past weekend doing something I had not previously devoted much time to -- tasting wines. My family really aren't "wine-os," but since starting to date Rob, I have learnt a lot about paying attention to what I am drinking above answering the ultimate yes/no question: "do I like it?" He invited me with him to a weekend wine tour of Long Island Wineries organized for wine bloggers by a wine blogger at lenndevours. I have to say, up until the drive out (when I discovered that this was for bloggers and their significant others), I was very nervous about being among people so passionate about something I know very little. Put me in a room with a bunch of docs, I'm cool. Put me in a room with a bunch of classical musicians and I can hold my geek-ed out own (barely), but wine??

I must say, I had a great weekend! It was overcast and rainy, but that did not stop us. Lenn planned a whilrwind tour of the east end of Long Island which started with a fabulous gourmet dinner at Raphael winery Friday night. Saturday consisted of 5 actual winery visits with tasting wine from about 15 wineries thanks to a sponsored lunch. Saturday night was a "BYOB of your favorite" BBQ -- 'nuff said. Sunday topped the weekend off with a ferry ride across to the south fork to visit the last two wineries and, finally, beer at a pub. Overall, we drank wine from 20-25 Long Island Wineries. Nice sampling.

Of all of these wineries, three places stuck out to my inexperienced palate -- Shin Estates Winery, Lenz Winery and Channing Daughters Winery. The wines from these very different wineries were all great!

Shin Estate Vinyards is on the North Fork and is part of a select few growers on LI trying to go organic. They spent a very long time explaining the difficulties of being organic on LI. These are not hippies waving their hands around doing a rain dance (joke intended). They are concerned farmers using science and collaborations with Cornell University to decrease their impact on nature. Plus, they are making damn good wines while doing it! Two of my favories of the weekend were the Shin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (barrel sample) and their Shin Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

The Lenz Winery was one of the highlighs of the weekend for me. The winemaker, Eric Fry, met us and took us on a two hour tasting through almost exclusively tank and barrel samples of his upcoming vintages. It was fascinating to listen to him talk about his wines -- he believes very strongly in aging wines and therefore doesn't release wines until he deems them ready to drink. Their current Merlot release is 2001. Plus, there was the hilarity of walking all over the building -- start inside, the out to the right, then back in, out ot the left, back in, around back... you get the picture. Rob and I ended up taking home the Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.

Finally, our last stop of the weekend found us at Channing Daughters Wineries on the South Fork of LI. Unlike most of the wineries we visitied, Channing Daughters focuses on white wines -- a refreshing change from a weekend of mostly underwhelming reds (except for those noted, ofcourse). Here we met James Christopher Tracy, another incredibly knowledgeable and engaging winemaker who was unafraid to experiment with his vineyard. Rob and I bought 5 (count 'em, FIVE) different wines here: Channing Daughters Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Vino Blanco 2007, Rosato Cabernet Franc 2008, Blaufrankisch 2007 and a 95% merlot blend, Sculpture Garden 2006.

To learn what qualified people think about all the wineries we visited this weekend, check out Rob's blog, WinePost and from there link on to others who were there this weekend. Enjoy!

Pictures from the weekend at: http://picasaweb.google.com/leah.hamburg

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