Taste Camp

Taste Camp East 2012 – To each their own!

This year I attended the 4th annual Taste Camp, which was hosted in Virginia for the first time (Northern Virginia wine country to be specific). This year what really stood out as unique were the marked differences in grape growing and vineyard management techniques between the winemakers with whom we had the pleasure of taking vineyard walks.

Each winemaker is so passionate about his/her reasoning for using a particular trellis system, vine spacing, row spacing, etc. that one could easily be convinced that this must be THE WAY to do it in this part of Virginia. That is until a conversation with the next winemaker, who easily debunks the previous method and convinces you of a new ONE.

It seems that a lot of the winemakers in the region tend to use the Smart-Dyson (SD) type of trellis system or a variant of SD called Ballerina trellising versus Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP). I have known about SD for years as we implemented it on several rows at my families’ vineyards about 5 years ago. It seems that over time it has become increasing popular in the Commonwealth, although I know it has been used here for quite some time.

I didn’t think about it at the time we were viewing these vineyards, but one winemaker who doesn’t use SD mentioned that he feels the reason these systems were used was to help thwart problems with vigor and that it was more of a band-aid fix, versus a real solution to the problem. Funny enough, that was the reason we decided to do it at our vineyard, because we had such vigor issues that we couldn’t seem to keep under control, so SD was our attempt at a fix.

Either way you slice it, the winemakers, vineyard managers, etc. are doing what they feel is proper for their site. I think the best thing to do is to continually evaluate your techniques, although it can be time-consuming and costly to rip up vines and replant or re-trellis. We saw a great example of this at Linden Vineyards with Jim Law. After 20 years of doing what he felt was right with some of his Chardonnay vines, a few years ago he decided to rethink things. He planted them based on what he knew then (trellis style, orientation, slope, etc.) and now with his extensive hands-on knowledge about soil type, he is moving things around to give what he feels is a better expression of the grape and the terroir. Pretty amazing – but it seems logical. I mean nobody can get anything exactly right on the first try!

It’s a risky proposition though and an expensive and time consuming one, that I’m sure is hard to swallow no matter how right you think you might be.

The dialogue about vineyard techniques discussed above is one of the great things about Taste Camp. In addition to the immersion in wine, it offers the chance to connect with the people involved, to learn how and why use particular techniques, and to TASTE the results of those techniques. I’m glad there are a variety of styles being used, because that’s what lends variety to the experience and to the wines (for better or worse).

I would like to thank everyone who gave us their time and shared their stories and passion over the weekend. More posts to follow on some of the wines and individual people who are, or WILL be, putting Virginia Wine on the map.

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TasteCamp East Coming to Northern Virginia

After attending the first two years, last year I wasn’t able to attend TasteCamp in the Niagara region of both Canada and New York. I guess life got in the way or something, where are my priorities right? Well this year TasteCamp is coming to my neck of the woods, to explore the Northern Virginia wine region of the Commonwealth and I’ll be there.

Below are the details….


TasteCamp 2012 heads to Northern Virginia

Fourth edition of wine bloggers and wine writers’ meeting heads to Loudoun County, May 4-6.

The organizers of TasteCamp are proud to announce that after exploring the regions of Long Island, the Finger Lakes and Niagara (US and Canada), the event will hold its fourth edition in Northern Virginia wine country on May 4-6, 2012. Several important partners and sponsors have confirmed their participation and are working together to create an exceptional opportunity to discover the very best that Virginia wine has to offer.

The 2012 program will feature the combination of vineyard visits, grand tastings, conversations with winemakers and camaraderie that has made the event so successful over the last three years. Participants will also take part in what has become a TasteCamp tradition, a BYO dinner where wine lovers share special bottles in a freestyle evening of discovery and one-upmanship.

TasteCamp founder and New York Cork Report executive editor Lenn Thompson said that there was much reason for the event to head for the vineyards of Virginia: “The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference was a great opportunity for both Virginia and bloggers, but I wanted to bring TasteCamp to Northern Virginia to offer a truly immersive experience. We want attendees to eat, drink, sleep and breathe Virginia wine for three days. It’s of course impossible to fully explore a region in just a weekend, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.”

Over its three first years, TasteCamp has generated significant attention for the wine regions where it has taken place, generating dozens of stories and articles every year. It also offers emerging wine regions an exceptional opportunity to have their wines tasted by a passionate outside audience that brings a different light to local wine production and creates new conversations with local winemakers.

Essential Virginia partners

Three of the region’s top wineries will be hosting TasteCamp participants for lunches, dinners and grand tastings of Virginia wines, where many other wineries will provide a portrait of what this increasingly important wine producing state can offer. The three confirmed host wineries are:

  • Breaux Vineyards, in Purcellville overlooking the valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains, is one of Virginia’s most popular estates, with over 100 acres under vines.

  • Boxwood Winery, founded by former Washington Redskins’ owner John Kent Cooke, is located in the historic village of Middleburg, and produces Bordeaux blends from 100% estate-grown fruit, in collaboration with renowned consulting winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt.

  • Tarara Winery is located in the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains on 475 acres along the Potomac River in Leesburg. One of Loudoun County’s oldest wineries, Tarara focuses on single-vineyard wines.

TasteCamp 2012 organizers are also excited to be counting on partnerships with two key Virginia organizations. The Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office (Virginia Wine) and the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association (Visit Loudoun) will both be partners of the event, offering logistical, financial and/or transportation support.


Rooms have been set aside at the National Conference Center, in Leesburg, Virginia, only 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and a short drive from most of the vineyards visited over the weekend. A special room rate is offered to TasteCamp guests at this large-scale facility located on a quiet 110-acre campus.

TasteCamp 2012 organizers will have more announcements as the wine weekend approaches.

About TasteCamp

The concept for TasteCamp, created in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, executive editor of the New York Cork Report, is a simple one: getting enthusiastic journalists and bloggers together in a region that is new to them, to taste as much wine as possible and speak to as many winemakers as possible over the course of a weekend.

Most smaller, lesser-known wine regions in the world would love to get their wines in front of new audiences, but it can be a challenge. With TasteCamp, the new audience comes to them.

This is not a junket — attendees pay their own travel expenses, including their hotel rooms and meals. Through generous sponsors, some meals may be deeply discounted.

Follow the Latest updates on TasteCamp 2011:

• On Twitter: #TasteCamp

To participate as an attendee, contact Lenn Thompson at lenn (at) newyorkcorkreport.com

To participate as a sponsor, contact Frank Morgan at frank.j.morgan (at) gmail.com.

For more information, contact co-organizers Remy Charest (remycharest (at) mac.com) and John Witherspoon (vcuspoon1 (at) comcast.net)

Media and interview requests:

Lenn Thompson at lenn (at) newyorkcorkreport.com or

Frank Morgan at frank.j.morgan (at) gmail.com.



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TasteCamp 2010, an evening at Red Newt Cellars

The first evening of TasteCamp finished up with a tasting and dinner at Red Newt Cellars on Seneca Lake. The sun setting over the lake provided a beautiful backdrop to the evening as well as providing a delicate amber hue to the tasting room.  Laid out in front of us were 3 stations of Riesling from 3 different vintages. At each table were the 3 wineries that go into the Tierce Wine Riesling, as well as the specific vintage of Tierce.

About Tierce…

“Tierce Dry Riesling represents a unique collaborative effort of Anthony Road Wine Company, Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Wine Cellars..This wine pulls together not only the unique vineyard expressions of Seneca Lake, but also the individual philosophies of the participating winemakers.”

I started at the ’06 table, not sure why…in hind sight I should have started with the ’04 table. I went to ’04 after ’06 and felt that the ’04 was slightly dead and I think some of this perception may have been precipitated by the outstanding quality of the ’06.  Regardless of order, I feel that the ’04 Reislings were a bit tired, quality not withstanding, just past their peak.

Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run talking about the '06 wines

Back to the ’06….wow, awesome stuff! I started with the Anthony Road Dry Riesling which had great, but not crazy acidity, and was tropical in nature, with dried apricot, pear and slight fusel notes. Next up was the Fox Run, not as powerful a nose as the Anthony Road, but still quite nice. Hints of refreshing raspberry on the nose with a bit of mustard seed, orange zest and citrus notes on the palate and plenty of zippy acidity. Red Newt was third and showed the most minerality so far of the three. Slightly “richer” than the previous two, and showed lots of citrus, pear and peach notes. Excellent balance between the body and acidity providing a great, “complex” mouthfeel. Last but not least was the Tierce, a blend from the 3 wineries, but not necessarily equal parts of each. This was definitely a case of where the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The 06 Tierce had rocking acidity, and exquisite minerality that was flinty in nature. It was dominated by tropical notes like the Anthony Road with plenty of lemon-lime and pear notes with interesting hints of banana peel. The ’06 Tierce had it all, an outstanding Riesling.

The ’05 table was highlighted by Red Newt Riesling. It had great minerality, again providing a flinty quality. Loads of lemon-lime flavors reminding me of a Vinho Verde but more complex with back end flavors of pear, peach and juicy Asian pear. The other ’05’s didn’t do much for me. I felt the ’05 Anthony Road was a bit flat and the ’05 Fox Run was too soapy in nature.

Red Newt dinner aftermath

Dinner at Red Newt was provided by Red Newt Bistro which as you would imagine is attached to the winery. I had a special vegetarian dinner prepared by Debra Whiting, executive chef and wife of winemaker David Whiting. Instead of the main course of bacon wrapped beef tenderloin that everyone else had I had a portabello mushroom stuffed with an interestingly delicious concoction.  The flavor and texture was amazing and complimented the family style asparagus and mashed potatoes that were passed around.

Red Newt is very social media savvy and it was evident at the winery. A large screen TV  was streaming our #tastecamp tweets as well as the event was being recorded on Ustream for the world to see. Definitely a first for both of these at a winery, at least for me. It impressed me immensely to see how “tapped in” Red Newt was.

Cheers and thanks to all the winemakers, assistant winemakers and staff from all the wineries who help put this on.

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An afternoon at Ravines Wine Cellars

Ravines was the second stop on our first day of TasteCamp 2010. We meandered around Keuka Lake from Heron Hill to the Eastern side where Ravines has a beautiful view of the Lake.  Morten and Lisa Hallgren had a great list of wines for us to taste, setup in a paired fashion for a little “tete a tete” action. Morten came to the Finger Lakes from his childhood in Provence by way of Texas and Ashville, NC where he was winemaker for The Biltmore Estate. Before 2000, when they purchased the 17 acre property where Ravines Cellars sits, Morten was chief winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Franks for six years. Besides his vast wine making experience, Morten has an advanced degree in both Enology and Viticulture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier. On paper he knows what he’s doing and his knowledge and passion definitely translate to the glass.

Morten Hallgren

My favorites of what we tasted…

2006 Dry Riesling – lime and slate with a hint of fennel and a bit of ginger at the finish. Steely minerality and ripping acidity.

2008 Dry Riesling – hint of apricot, sliced with an arrowhead found in a riverbed, loads of lemon/lime and vibrant but manageable acidity.

2008 Dry Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard – pear juice, apple core, and floral notes. Subtle layers of tangerine rounded out the palate. The theme of minerality and vibrant acidity again played out here. The second time we enjoyed this was the next morning in the vineyard from where this wine is produced. What a treat!

2007 Cabernet Franc – lots of supple fruit, black and red fruit intermingling with highlights of blackberry and red currant. Dotted with notes of white pepper and Italian herbs, adding some depth to the fruit fowardness of the wine. Full body and smooth with velvety tannins.

As you can see, it was a great tasting, and this was only half of what we tasted. Thanks to Lisa and Morten for showing us a great time.


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TasteCamp 2010 – Experiment gone awry!

I love wineries who get inventive with their tastings. Whether it’s cool flights, vintage comparisons or in this case comparisons between oak aging, it always brings out the geek in me. Unfortunately this was an experiment gone awry! Instead of one over oaked Chardonnay, this winery had three, well really four.  The cool experiment was three identical Chardonnays, the only difference being the oak they were aged in, French, American and Hungarian.  Sounds cool right?  I think the winemaker achieved his goal, we were evaluating wood, not wine.  We would have been better off sticking chunks of barrel in our mouth and topping it with an eyedropper of Chardonnay.  Honestly the oak was so overpowering, that was all I tasted.  Sounds harsh I know, but this could have been a really cool exercise.  But instead of evaluating the flavor of the wine, I was evaluating the flavor of the oak. To me it seemed that the oak was the focus, not the wine, and that’s where I think it went awry. I have been to plenty of tastings that mirror this type of experiment and it can be a really great learning especially when done blind.

Oak or no oak it’s a personal choice, just give me a little fruit to go along with it.  I didn’t see a whole lot of oak mis-treatment over the weekend in the Finger Lakes, but Chardonnay and Merlot seemed to stand out as two varieties that can’t handle new wood.  Not sure why that is!  It would be great to see Chablis style Chardonnays out of the Finger Lakes.  With the acidity and minerality that the Rieslings show, teasing/expressing those in a Chardonnay would make a great wine.  Obviously this is my opinion, and plenty of people like OAK BOMBS, but I prefer a little more subtlety.


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TasteCamp 2010 Day 1: Part 1

Driving up the East side of Keuka Lake I was engrossed with the beauty of the Finger Lakes region, which I continued to soak in for the next three days. This drive took me to our first stop for Taste Camp 2010, Heron Hill Winery, for our first Grand Tasting and our first sample of what the region has to offer.  We had 9 wineries pouring for us and I am happy to say I was able to make it through all the wineries, giving ample time to diagnose each one.  Rather than bore you with 50 tasting notes, I’ll hit you with the highlights of the day. I would first like to thank Heron Hill for hosting us and providing a fabulous lunch (in conjuction with the Finger Lakes Wine Country).  Thanks also to all the wineries that poured their juice. I always admire wineries willing to show themselves to “critics” eager to pick apart their hard work and dedication to an art they devote so much time to.

As as side note, I will say the weekend as a whole provided the opportunity to taste a slew of new grape varieties, helping add some slots to my Wine Century Club checklist.

On to my highlights…

Heron Hill 2002 Riesling – aromas and flavors of petrol, lime, slate and pear juice; full bodied and still providing gripping acidity. I liked this wine a lot but the finish could have been a bit longer.

Keuka Spring 2007 Epic Reserve (Cabernet Sauvigon, Cab. Franc, Merlot) – nice red fruit with hints of cherry, spice, mocha and smoke. Full bodied and quite smooth with leathery tannins at the finish.

McGregor 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve – Big notes of black fruit including black cherry and plum with hints of fig and a good dose of red currant running through the mid palate. All of this complimented with nice “green” edges and a delicate, yet full bodied structure.

Imagine Moore 2009 Sauvignon Blanc – whoa, did I step into New Zealand for a second? Notes of grapefruit, cat pee, asparagus, citrus and mineral overtones. Wow, impressive! Razor sharp acidity.

Interesting varieties that I tried that didn’t knock me over were: Vergennes, Noiret, Valvin Muscat, and Vignoles. Of all of these that I tried the Valvin Muscat impressed me the most. I felt the variety was a bit too “soapy” though, and reminded me of my grandmother’s bathroom. After talking to Evan, he said it reminded him of a “potpourri box” which was spot on description of the varietal.

All in all the first two hours of TasteCamp were a taste of a great weekend to come, with wonderful wines and regional personality. I couldn’t wait until the nest stop on our Finger Lakes adventure.

Stay tuned to Anything Wine for more TasteCamp stories.


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TasteCamp 2010 Visuals – Vineyard Walk

For the vineyard walk I was selected to go to Argetsinger Vineyards and tour the vineyard with owner and manger Sam Argetsinger. Sam was a riot, a really down to earth guy that loves playing in the dirt and working with mother nature. His passion for grape growing and nature was amazingly intense and fun to see. Below are some pictures from our visit with him.

Sam Argetsinger

View of Seneca Lake from the top of the vineyard

bud break

Sam tying vines in an umbrella trellis format

Morten Hallgren of Ravines Cellars serving his Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling and his wifes breakfast tart

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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 3: part 1 (headin’ South)

On day 3 of Taste Camp East, our group of bloggers had thinned slightly after the palate bashing during the first day and a half. But I was wolffer_blancdeblancrefreshed and excited to be heading over to the South Fork of Long Island to the Hampton’s appellation, yes THE Haaampton’s. We were making two stops on the South Fork, the first of which was Wolffer Estate Vineyard whose Estate Selection Merlots we had tasted during the first evening of Taste Camp.

After meeting Roman Roth, the wine maker for Wolffer, he offered us a glass of there 2005 Estate Sparkling Blanc de Blanc to sip on as we waited for the rest of the Taste Campers to arrive. It was a nice and refreshing sip that awakened my palate quickly.

Once we were all accounted for, we were escorted to a private room for our wine tasting with Roman.

Lets get into my tasting notes:

2005 Estate Selection Chardonnay

nose: tight, with oak and fresh cut apple

taste: Asian pear, almond, toast, butter, hint of citrus

mouthfeel: full body, round with “spicy” acidity at the back of the palate

finish: nice and long with toasty overtones

2000 Premier Cru Merlot (1.8 ton/acre, extended maceration, 21 months in new French Oak)

nose: chocolate, raspberry, black cherry

taste: green pepper, cherry, cabbage, raspberry and bacon

mouthfeel: soft and smooth but not flabby, full bodied

finish: long and fruity

wolffer_grapesofroth2002 Grapes of Roth Merlot (Bottled under Roman Roth’s name)

nose: licorice, red currant, nice “bright” fruit

taste: bacon fat, black currant, cassis, green pepper

mouthfeel: full body, velvety tannins, very smooth on the mid palate with spicy white pepper at the back of the palate

finish: long, high lighted by lingering meaty notes

2004 Premier Cru Merlot

nose: meaty, fresh wet earth, red currant, cured meat, cherry

taste: smoke, black currant, bacon fat, leather, rhubarb

mouthfeel: leathery and dusty, full big and spicy!

Finish: long and HUGE

2005 Premier Cru Merlot (Christian’s Cuvee)

nose: blackberry, boysenberry

taste: raspberry, black currant, cassis, roasted meat

mouthfeel: big and spicy with leathery tannins

finish: long and dusty

2005 Amarone (Cabernet Sauvignon)

nose: coffee, oak, fig

taste: chocolate, toffee, blackberry

mouthfeel: leathery tannins, full bodied

finish: long with black fruit and plum flavors

2007 Late Harvest Chardonnay (icewine style with 12% Viognier, 10 % Gewürztraminer, 3% Trebbiano)

nose: honeysuckle, apricot

taste: orange rind, tangerine, hazelnut, apricot

mouthfeel: intense with huge viscosity and enough acid to make it not overwhelming

finish: long rich and honey


Roman and the folks at Wolffer gave us the royal treatment, the same we had seen from our visits on the North Fork. Roman brought out the big guns for us, with these reds being in the $50 – $125 range but their Estate Selection Merlots are more in the $30 range and their La Ferme Martin line are all around the $15 price point. They were delicious though, my favorite being the 2004 Premier Cru and the 2000 Grapes of Roth. Both of which I bought and was lucky enough that Roman had a bottle of his 2000 with him as he usually doesn’t sell it from the Wolffer tasting room.. These Merlot’s showed the power and meatiness of California Syrah with the suppleness and elegance of Washington state Merlot, well at least that’s what my palate thought, and I dug it!!

Thanks again to the folks at Wolffer and to Roman Roth, it was a treat and a pleasure.


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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: part 3

P5020241After leaving Paumanok Vineyards we headed over to Shinn Estates Vineyards for lunch and of course some wine tasting. Shinn Estates also doubles as a B&B and we ate in the dining room that separates the guest rooms and where the owners Barbara Shinn and David Page live. Prepared for us was a beautiful feast with quite a few vegetarian friendly items that I of course didn’t write down. But my friend and fellow Taste Camper Erika Strum put up the list of what we ate on her blog yesterday, so I snagged it.

What we ate: rocket salad with a mustard-thyme vinaigrette, peconic bay calamari, piccolini pasta with asparagus, spring onion, lemon and fire-roasted shiitake mushrooms with ramps and fregula and crescent duck breast with sea salt, pepper and apricot-mustard sauce.


To go with all this fabulous food we had 8 or so wines to pair with it all. Providing the wines were of course Shinn Estates as well as Jamesport Vineyards and Macari Vineyards. While we sipped and savored all the food and wine, wine makers from each of the estates gave us a good rundown of what they are all about, as well as their philosophies on sustainable viticulture.

shinn_SBWhat we drank:

2008 Shinn Estates Sauvignon Blanc (blended with 4% Semillion)

nose: grassy, gooseberry, lemon rind, slightly tropical

taste: lime, grass, general citrus note, touch of grapefuit

mouthfeel: clean and crisp, razor sharp acidity

finish: long and clean

2008 Macari Sauvignon Blanc

nose: “tight”, lemon, grapefruit

taste: citrus, minerality

mouthfeel: touch of effervescence, bright acidity

finish: medium in length, nice mineral note

2008 Jamesport Sauvignon Blanc

nose: tropical with apricot and guava

taste: lime, apricot

mouthfeel: softer acidity than the previous two, but still crisp

finish: short – medium in length, clean

2008 Macari Rose

nose: watermelon rind, strawberry

taste: fuji apple peel, mineral/slate

mouthfeel: slight effervescence, medium body

finish: long for a Rose

2006 Jamesport Pinot Noir (Sarah’s Hill)

nose: cedar, walnut, cherry, cassis

taste: cherry, slightly chemical, truffle and herbs

mouthfeel: medium body, beautiful acidity

finish: medium – long in length, bright red fruit flavors

2007 Shinn Estates Cabernet Franc (barrel sample, release date 2010)

nose: mushroom, red currant, raspberry and cherry

taste: hazelnut, caramel, boysenberry, clove, thyme

mouthfeel: full body, smooth and velvety with a nice hint of spiciness towards the back of the palate

finish: long with earthy mushroom and nut flavor lingering

2005 Jamesport Cabernet Franc

nose: earth, toast, black currant, fresh herbs

taste: cherry and spices

mouthfeel: slightly hot, full body with leathery tannins

2005 Shinn Estates Reserve Merlot

nose: mocha, black cherry, coconut and boysenberry

taste: cocoa, cranberry and cherry

mouthfeel: full body, big velvety tannins

finish: long and fruity

The wines are all very nice and the pairings worked out great with the delicious food. After lunch we headed out to the vineyard with David and Barbara to talk more about their vineyard practices. I wrote about it last week and put up a video here.

Next up was a trade style tasting in the Shinn barrel room with quite a few Long Island wineries including Lieb Family Cellars, Sparkling Pointe, Croteaux Vineyards, Harbes, Bouke, and the The Old Field. I was too diligent during this part of the tasting but did take a few notes here and there, and here are a couple of my highlights/legible notes!

2007 Croteaux Vineyards Merlot “3” Rose

nose: toast, vanilla, strawberry, coconut

taste: strawberry, watermelon rind, sour cherry, SLATE

mouthfeel: clean, crisp, crisp acidity

2007 Lieb Bridge Lane Chardonnay

nose: apple, “rich”, a slight bread yeast component (??)

taste: tropical, coconut, apple and pear

mouthfeel: full body, round and smooth

Thanks again to Shinn Estates for hosting us for lunch and to all the wineries that poured their wines for us. It was my pleasure.


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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: Part 2

After leaving Roanoke Vineyards we headed to Paumanok Vineyards for a sampling of their wines. The tasting was more casual in style than the Roanoke tasting as we milled around in the tasting room as their wines were poured for us. As the spitting commenced, and the wines were poured, each one was discussed in brief by either owner Charles Massoud or his son and now wine maker Kareem.


My Tasting Notes –

2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (8 months in 15% new oak)

nose: ripe tropical fruit, flinty and honey

taste: apple, Asian pear, lemon rind, almond and vanilla

mouthfeel: medium to full body, bright acidity

finish: medium in length and fruity

2007 Sauvignon Blanc

nose: tropical “sweet” fruit, citrus

taste: grapefruit, lemon, sweet pea

mouthfeel: medium body, crisp and tart

finish: short to medium in length and clean

2008 Chenin Blanc

nose: crème fraiche, apple, Asian Pear

taste: tons of citrus, tangerine, ugly fruit

mouthfeel: full body, nice acid across the back of the palate

finish: long and fruity

2005 Merlot

nose: tight nose with hints of red cherry

taste: cherry, boysenberry, brussel sprout, leather

mouthfeel: medium body, velvety tannins

finish: medium in length with mostly red fruit flavors lingering

2004 Assemblage

nose: black currant and blackberry

taste: boysenberry, blackberry, red currant

mouthfeel: very full bodied, fuzzy mouth coating tannins

finish: long and drying

2005 Tuttles Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

nose: black cherry, leather and espresso

taste: black pepper, olive, green bean, cassis

mouthfeel: full body with good acidity and big tannins

finish: long in length with a cocoa aftertaste

After tasting through the wines in the tasting room, we headed down to the barrel room to taste some of the reds from the amazing 2007 vintage.

paumanokbarrelroomBarrel Sample #1 2007 Assemblage

nose: “sweet”, ripe dark fruit, black currant and boysenberry

taste: baking spice, cardamom, vanilla and blueberry, oak

mouthfeel: full body, loads of tannins

finish: long and fruity

Barrel Sample #2 2007 Tuttles Lane Merlot

nose: dark cherry and blueberry

taste: blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry

mouthfeel: big, round and full

finish: long and tight

Barrel Sample #3 2007 Petit Verdot

nose: tight nose, hints of dark fruit and molasses

taste: almond, blackberry, leather

mouthfeel: full up front but a little thin in the middle, needs time to round itself out

finish: long, lean and leathery

The barrel tasting showed the depth of what the 2007 vintage will have to offer for Paumanok as these wines were big boys in the barrel. Barrel tasting is always a great experience especially when you can refer back to your notes down the road as you taste the wines again upon release. Although we tasted some great red wines, the high light and surprise of the day was the Chenin Blanc. This was a fabulous wine and the one that we purchased from our visit to the winery. If this is an example of how well the Chenin Blanc grape can perform in Long Island, more wine makers should be working with it.

Thanks to the Paumanok staff for a great tasting and second stop on our North Fork journey.


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Taste Camp tasting notes – Day 2: Part 1

tastecamplogoTasting began “early” on day 2 of Taste Camp as we arrived, at Roanoke Vineyards at 10:00am. Greeting us was a beautiful private tasting setup and owner/vineyard manager Richard Pisacano. Check out Richard in the video below as he introduces us to his winery and how he got into the business.

My Tasting Notes of the 5 wines we tasted…

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (20 months in barrel)(88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc)

nose: smoke, red currant, dusty

taste: cranberry, leather, dried herbs, black pepper

mouthfeel: medium – full body, leathery, spicy and good acidity

finish: long and “herby”

2005 Merlot (100% Merlot)

nose: boysenberry, cherry, baking spices, vanilla

taste: green pepper, waxy/fondant, sour cherry, hazelnut

mouthfeel: noticeable acidity, fuzzy tannins

finish: huge cherry on the finish, dusty with good duration

2004 Blend One (sold out)(43% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon)

nose: raspberry, red currant

taste: “sweet” red fruit, green bean, blueberry, mint, strawberry

mouthfeel: medium body, velvety tannins across the mid-palate turning dusty by the finish

finish: medium in length and dusty

2006 Cabernet Franc (12 months in barrel)(88% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot)

nose: dried cherries, toast and hazelnut

taste: cherry, red raspberry, red currant with hints of fresh herbs

mouthfeel: medium body, smooth and velvety

finish: medium – long in length, with hints of white pepper

2007 Marco Tulio (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot)

nose: earth, cherry, pomegranate, toast

taste: black cherry, coffee and thyme

mouthfeel: full body and fuzzy, mouthcoating tannins

finish: long, fruity and drying

roanoke_meganOf the 5 we tasted the ’05 Merlot and the ’06 Cabernet Franc were my favorites and I am wishing I had bought a bottle of each! Guess we will HAVE to plan a trip back North sometime soon.

Thanks again to Richard and the Roanoke Vineyard staff for kicking off our Taste Camp Day 2 of tastings with a bang.


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Full Redux of Night 1 of Taste Camp East 2009

rob_raphaelAfter the first night of Taste Camp, I put up a quick post about the evening and mentioned one of my favorites of the evening the 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot. That Merlot was also poured during the great 5 course dinner that we enjoyed. As each of the wines were poured, representatives of the wineries got up and gave a quick rundown of what we had in our glasses. The wines poured for dinner and featured in the video were the 2006 Raphael Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Clovis Point Merlot, 2000 Wolffer Estate Selection Merlot, 2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc, 1997 Pellegrini Vineyard Vintners Pride Merlot, Pellegrini Vineyard “Finale”. For some reason I didn’t have a video of Raphael talking about their Sauvignon Blanc so they aren’t featured in the video.

thegang_raphaelAll of the wineries that are listed above, also provided verticals of several of their Merlots prior to starting dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t move quickly enough and didn’t get a chance to taste the Pellegrini Vineyards wine, except for at dinner. As well we were treated to tasting a vertical of the Merliance wines, from the Long Island Merlot Alliance. Merliance is a unique blend made of 100% Merlot varietal grown on Long Island and made exclusively by the members of the Long Island Merlot Alliance, all 5 of which were represented at Raphael and listed above.

As mentioned earlier the 2000 Wolffer Merlot was my favorite on the evening but there were quite a few close runner-ups.

2005 Merliance Merlot

nose: cedar, bananas foster, black cherry

taste: brussel sprouts, red currant, plum

mouthfeel: medium body, nice acidity

finish: long and fruity

2004 Sherwood House Cabernet Franc

nose: plum, black cherry, black tea

taste: plum, green bean, black peppercorns

mouthfeel: medium to full body, leathery tannins

finish: firm tannnins, fairly long in length

Of the wines that I didn’t favor, I found similar “green”, stem like qualities with slight plastic and chemical off notes. This wasn’t held by one particular winery as these traits were seen across the board on the wines I didn’t like. As I said in yesterday’s post these are off notes that I find in wines that I don’t like here in Virginia as well. It would be interesting to do some sort of study to find out if there is a larger geographical terroir as the Virginia and Long Island landscape are so different.

Check back soon for more notes on day 2 of our visit to wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 2 Comments

Taste Camp East 2009 – Long Island Impressions

tastecamplogoIn 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.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Taste Camp Day 2 – Lunch at Shinn Estate Vineyards

tastecamplogoOn day 2 of Taste Camp East 2009 (really the 1st full day) we had a flurry of tasting appointments that took us up and down the North Fork of Long Island. I will be updating the blogosphere with my dozens of pages of tasting notes in the days to come but I wanted to put up a quick video of Barbara and Dave from Shinn Estate Vineyards where we had lunch and tasted wines from many other surrounding vineyards.

After lunch and before the “trade” style tasting in the Shinn barrel room, Dave and Barbara took us out to their vineyard and gave a great talk on their philosophy of biodynamic and sustainable viticulture.

Check back soon for more of that I thought about the Shinn wines and others from day 2 of Taste Camp.


Categories: New York Wines, Taste Camp | 1 Comment

Taste Camp East Kick Off

tastecamplogoLast night was the first evening of Taste Camp and it was what seemed to be a great success. The dining room at Rapheal was a beautiful setting for the great dinner and wine service sponsored by both Rapheal Winery and the Long Island Merlot Alliance.

Prior to dinner we had the opportunity to taste a slew of Merlot verticals from the various wineries that were in attendance. I think my favorite of the evening was the Wolffer Estate vertical that was highlighted (IMHO) by the 2000 vintage. Lots of blackberry and black currant on the nose, followed up by cedar, hay, raspberry and leather notes on the palate.

I will be putting up more videos of each of the winemakers that spoke at last nights dinner as I get them cleaned up and edited.


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