A year ago, Italian-born Rose Pipia purchased the former Bidwell Winery in Cutchogue, Long Island’s second oldest vineyard, and has renamed it Vineyard 48.
I never liked Bidwell’s wines much, so this is great news.
Pipia and her son, Joseph Pipia, the winery’s general manager, are obviously dedicated to turning the winery around, having hired some Long Island wine heavyweights to help exorcise the demons of bad Bidwell wines past. Steve Mudd of Mudd Vineyards has been brought in to get the vineyard healthy while Roman Roth of Wolffer Estate is serving as technical consultant to winemaker Mathew Berenz, formerly of Pindar Vineyards.
Mr. Pipia, true to his family’s Old World roots, takes a very hands-on approach, taking part in planting, pruning, spraying and harvesting in the vineyard. In the cellar, where new barrels and equipment have been installed, he’s been working side-by-side with Roth and Berenz.
The six wines set for release at this Saturday’s grand opening, the first under the Vineyard 48 label, are actually old Bidwell stock that has been “tweaked” for release. As you’ll read, I found them to be a bit hit and miss.
The Vineyard 48 White ($10) is a non-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that is a little weak in the nose but offers some sweet vanilla and subtle buttery flavors on the palate. It was wanting a bit in the fruit department, however.
Vineyard 48’s 2002 Riesling ($15) is an extremely aromatic white with a floral, almost perfume-like nose and concentrated peach and apricot flavors. Lush and fruity, a bit more acidity would really elevate this wine into something unique and special. With a focus on this varietal and the winery’s old vines, I expect great things from future vintages.
Sauvignon Blanc is becoming an increasingly popular (and good) wine on the East End, but I found the 2003 Sauvignon Blanc ($17) from Vineyard 48 to be a little off target. Super tart, it’s a bit one dimensional for my taste.
The clear winner among this set of whites is the 2003 Chardonnay ($14). While not as refined as a quality Chablis, that’s clearly the goal here. Light, fresh and crisp, it delivers toasty vanilla on the palate. I particularly enjoyed the finish, which is slightly creamy and lingering.
If you’re looking for an every day, easy-drinking red to serve with pizza or even burgers, the Vineyard 48 Red ($10) is a nice option. A non-vintage blend of fifty percent Merlot, twenty-five percent Cabernet Franc and twenty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s soft and filled with berries, sweet oak and even a little cocoa. In fact, I prefer the blend to their 2002 Merlot ($20) which isn’t as complex or nuanced as some other 20-dollar Merlots produced on Long Island.
Vineyard 48 plans to craft “new wines from old vines” that display elegance, balance and concentration all while appealing to both everyday wine lovers and connoisseurs alike. The inconsistency found in these first releases doesn’t worry me one bit. With the team they’ve got in place, I expect some delicious, sophisticated wines in the future — starting with the 2004 vintage.