In case you hadn’t noticed, Anything Wine was in Long Island this past weekend for the first of hopefully many “Taste Camp East”s (2010 is tentatively planned for the Finger Lakes and 2011 in Virginia). The first annual event was dedicated to Long Island wine country and was spearheaded by New York wine guy Lenn Thompson of LennDevours. In addition to reconnecting with all of my blogger buddies and meeting some new ones, I discovered a “new” wine region, which made some great and surprising first impressions on me.
Megan and I had no idea what to expect as we made our way up the North Fork of Long Island to our hotel in Greenport. We were delightfully surprised by the cuteness of the landscape as we were suddenly surrounded by vineyards and farms. The flat, vine-dotted landscape reminded me of the Niagara Peninsula wine region which I visited a few years back.
Over the next few days I’ll be putting up some posts with individual tasting notes and some videos and pictures from the weekend’s tastings, but this post is intended to summarize my overall impressions of the region.
Camaraderie – Several times as we drove from winery to winery, Megan and I reflected on the obvious camaraderie that we felt and saw between the vintners in the region. Perhaps because of the small size of the region, the relative youth of the wine industry there, and the unique challenges that wineries face in the region, the vintners really seemed to learn from each other and to leverage others’ knowledge and experiences, successes and failures. I think this is a must in a burgeoning wine region and is something I have seen in my explorations here in Virginia as well.
Price – I am sure I will not be the only Taste Camper to mention price after this weekend’s festivities, so I will be brief. As here in Virginia, price is always a point of discussion when it comes to the QPR of LI wines, and this is something I have discussed with Lenn several times. Although I was impressed by the quality of the many of the wines I tasted, it was hard for me to warrant the many $40+ price tags that these wines garnished. That being said, I did buy several bottles, two of which were $50 and $100, and we did taste several fabulous wines that were under the $20 price point.
Long Island vs. Virginia – I am a big proponent of Virginia wines and have some favorites from the region that I think deserve accolades against some of the top wineries in the country. With that being said, I think the overall quality of what we tasted in LI was slightly higher, on average, than what I taste in Virginia. Obviously that average is slightly skewed because Lenn, I’m sure, had us taste the best of what the region had to offer. An interesting observation was that when I didn’t like a wine that I tasted this weekend, it had similar aromatic and taste faults to those that I sometimes find in Virginia wines. Specifically slightly oxidized notes, chemical/metallic aftertaste and the over use of oak, the last of which isn’t held by Virginia alone.
Passion – WOW! The LI winemakers’ extreme passion and enthusiasm for viticulture and enology was truly palpable. It was really exhilarating, and added an invaluable component to my tasting experience.
Thanks again to all the Long Island Wineries that made us feel at home, poured hundreds of wines for us, and opened my eyes to what this region has to offer. Check back soon to see all of my tasting notes and more pictures and videos from the weekend.