Monday, May 11, 2009

Taste Camp – Roanoke Vineyards and Paumonok Vineyards

It has been a week since TasteCamp and I need to make sure I get everything down before I forget it all.

The Roanoke Vineyards were the first stop we made on a hectic Saturday of wine tasting. We got there at 10:00 in the morning, the perfect time to start tasting red wines.

We tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as a few blends. To be honest, none of these wines really excited me, although I enjoyed the Cabernet Franc. I thought that this wine had some nice jammy qualities, with ripe strawberries and a little spicy white pepper.

Richard (Richie) Pisacano, our guide for the tasting, was great to listen to. He was a farmer, through and through, with a great sense of familiarity about the land around him. One of the blends that they made was named Marco Tulio, named after Richie's father-in-law, which I guess was better than calling it Blend 3. While we were there, Richie told us that there was one block of Cabernet Franc vines that were cared for by his father Gabby. Gabby's grapes were grown in a very traditional way and were compared to the other vines that had more modern technology overseeing the produce. Evidently Gabby's Cabernet Franc was one of the most flavorful wines at the winery, although we did not get to taste it.

From there we went on to Paumanok Vineyards, just up the road and across the width of the fork to the other highway (there are only two). This winery was also family owned and operated, with the son of the winemaker working as the vineyard manager, and the winemaker’s wife keeping everyone in line.

We tasted some Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and some Petit Verdot. The Chenin Blanc was not my style, but pleasantly fruity all the same. The other whites did not tickle my fancy. On the other hand, the White Label Merlot 2005 was absolutely delicious. It was classic merlot, with great deep red berries and structure.

We then did some barrel tasting. It is always fun to see what is still in the barrel and to see what the winemaker is thinking about doing with the wines before they put them into the bottle. However, morning barrel tastings of Petit Verdot can be a bit much.

We then went back up to taste through the Paumanok Rieslings. The one that stuck out to me was the Late Harvest Riesling. Only 70 cases of 375 mL bottles were made. It was very nice, rich and balanced with a little petrol and apricot.

TasteCamp East 2009 - to be continued...

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