Peconic Bay Winery

This summer, my wife and I took an afternoon trip to Peconic Bay Winery on the North Fork of Long Island. It’s a very pretty winery, and they have an outdoor patio where we took our basket lunch after the wine tasting.

The tasting was eye-opening for me. I thought I didn’t like Merlots. But the two Merlots that were offered in the Reserve Tasting were both challenging and delightful. The Reserve Tasting was $12 for 6 wines. Our sommelier was knowledgeable about the wines, which was good, since I didn’t know much about reserve wines.

The first wine we tasted was a 2006 La Barrique Chardonnay. It was decent, but I am not a fan of the relatively bland Chardonnays. I will say that it was more fruity than most, and certainly more flavorful than the 2006 Steel Fermented Chardonnay that our host let us try off-menu. The second wine was in more familiar territory for my wife and I, a 2006 Riesling. This was quite nice. It had a citrus bite, and my wife could detect peach.

Next, we were given reds to sample from. The first was a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I enjoyed, but my wife, not a fan of most reds, could not finish. I rose to the challenge and finished it for her. The Cabernet is listed as having pencil-shaving and cedar notes. And sure enough, it does. I would drink this wine when offered, but we did not buy a bottle of it before we left.

The next two were the Merlots. The 2005 Lowerre Reserve Merlot was complex but soft on the tongue. It was floral, almost rose-like, and had a hint of the spiciness that many people enjoy, but I find off-putting if it’s too strong. This was a Merlot I could get into.

The 2001 Merlot, Oregon Hills Reserve, is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t know what this means, but it was a strong wine. At first sip, it’s all tannin, but then there was a plum- and berry-flavor that lingered. It was recommended to go with strong-flavored food, cheeses and stews and the sort. It was $40 a bottle and went against my rule of how expensive a bottle I would purchase, but I knew I was in the presence of a real bottle of wine here, and I purchased it, looking forward to trying it out in its ideal conditions.

The last wine offered was a white dessert wine called Polaris. My wife and I both like dessert wines. This one was excellent, but grading a dessert wine is like grading an ice cream flavor. One either likes Butter Pecan, or one does not. Polaris is a standout, but only if you like that sort of thing.

The servings were large enough that both of us left extremely satisfied and slightly tipsy. There were aluminum bowls set in the bar if one wanted to empty his glass or, God forbid, spit out the tasting. But we went the distance and drank what we were given. We went out into the sunshine to enjoy the quiet of the East End on a weekday. A bit later we went to Greenport and had a lovely dinner. My only complaint was that Peconic Bay Winery doesn’t ship to many local stores and recommends that customers go online or visit the actual winery to purchase their wines. And, now that I recall the day, maybe heading out there again isn’t such a bad thing after all.