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Celebrating Long Island Wine THE HARVEST EAST END FESTIVAL DEBUTS A fter years of trial and error, the Long Island wine community has finally established its own wine festival, much like those in Napa and Sonoma. The first Harvest East End festival took place on the last weekend of September with a series of wine tasting events on both forks of Long Island’s East End, culminating in a gala dinner and auction that raised money for both the Peconic Land Trust and East End Hospice. “A great wine region needs a great wine festival,” says winemaker Roman Roth, Technical Director of Wölffer Estate in Bridgehampton. “It’s not enough just to make our wine and sell it. We needed an event that celebrates and supporters what we do, and to create awareness on a grander scale.” It is to Roth’s vision of Long Island as a world-class wine region that the idea and creation of Harvest East End is owed, along with cooperation from members of the Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Merlot Alliance. Throughout the weekend, a series of “wine salons” were held at Long Island wineries, culminating in a festival tasting of 27 local releases held under a huge tent on Wölffer Estate’s bucolic horse farm. It was an evening and a weekend to remember, and perhaps became a milestone in this burgeoning wine producing region of eastern Long Island barely half a century old. –Ralph DiGennaro Roman Roth, winemaker at Wölffer Estate. The Winning Wines of Wölffer Estate W ölffer Estate Vineyards and Winery spreads across 55 acres of Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, where verdant horse farms and multi-million dollar mansions coexist. Here, Wölffer Estate winemaker and technical director Roman Roth plies his inestimable talents, turning out some of the most highly regarded wines Long Island has ever known. A passionate and self-deprecating man who loves to laugh and joke at any given opportunity, Roth has an impressive resumé and is intensely focused on making world class wines that could compete with any wines from anywhere in the world. The German-born winemaker contends that his wines are “not compro- mised to make more wine or to win gold medals” but to “capture, express and, most importantly, balance our vineyard’s fruit character with the magical yeast aromas and flavors.” The natural acidity in these wines, says Roth, is what makes 36 / the tasting panel / november 2010 the Sagaponack region special and the wines food- friendly. After sitting down recently with Roth in the cellar at Wölffer Estate, here are some tasting notes on a few of the winery’s recent bottlings: Wölffer Estate 2006 Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blanc Classic méthode champenoise, a sparkler made of 100% Chardonnay from the oldest vineyard on the property. Offers tight bubbles that rise up to ripe white peach and pear flavors with hints of freshly-baked brioche. Crisp and acidic on the finish. Says Roth, “It’s not barrel-aged in the style of Krug or Bollinger but has a vibrant intensity that is fresh and ripe.” Wölffer Estate 2009 Classic White A blend of Wölffer Estate grown Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay and blended with Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes region, this is a bone-dry quaffer that’s at once flinty and floral with a clean, slightly zesty finish. Wölffer Estate 2006 Fatalis Fatum An art- ful blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of Barbera. Deep and dark in color. Complex flavors of cassis, fig jam and black licorice. Finishes with softly-integrated tannins and a hint of saddle leather. —R. D.

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