The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2013

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Page 88 of 152

A Fork in the LONG ISLAND WINES COME OF AGE Road PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LONG ISLAND WINE COUNCIL by Anthony Dias Blue T Long Island's rolling wine country landscape at Macari Vineyards. he idea of making wine at the eastern tip of Long Island, 100 miles from New York City, is a relatively new one. It all started in the early 1970s when Alex and Louisa Hargrave planted the region's first vineyard near Cutchogue, on the island's North Fork. The eastern end of Long Island splits into two narrow land masses: the North Fork and the South Fork. Both are hospitable to grape vines, but the astronomical cost of land on the South Fork, home to the Hamptons and New York's glitziest celebrity hangouts, makes agriculture there an insanely extravagant pursuit. There are 56 wineries in the Long Island AVA, with more than 40 of them located on the North Fork. Bordered by Long Island Sound on the north and Peconic Bay on the south, the growing region extends about 20 miles, from Riverhead to Greenport. Being surrounded by large bodies of water helps keep temperatures moderate and extends the growing season. Cooling breezes are also beneficial by keep the vines dry and mold free. The soil and climate characteristics are quite similar to those found in Bordeaux. As a result, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and, particularly, Cabernet Franc do very well on Long Island, although the high cost of real estate tends to make the wines a bit on the pricy side. This summer, I spent some time in East Hampton and, being the fastidious taster that I am, I managed to taste more than 100 Long Island wines. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of what I found. The progress that has been made since those initial attempts of 40 years ago is remarkable. Most Long Island wines fall into a very comfortable middle ground between the opulence and fruit-forward style of California and the more structured and elegant style of Europe. Long Island wines are well-represented in local restaurants and are beginning to make inroads on wine lists in New York City as well. Here are notes on a few of my favorite wines from the region. 88  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2013 TP1013_066-107.indd 88 9/23/13 10:35 PM

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