Thanks to one Long Island wine veteran and one of the region’s rising stars (not to mention a personal favorite), visitors to the South Fork can get a taste of the North Fork without taking the ferry or driving around Peconic Bay.
Ray Blum, founder of Peconic Bay Vineyards in 1979 (now Peconic Bay Winery under new ownership) and owner of Ackerly Pond Vineyards, and Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery have teamed up to open the Hamptons Wine Boutique, located at 118 Main Street in Westhampton Beach.
And, to help promote the local wine industry, and differentiate themselves as more than just another wine shop, Blum and Waters are only selling Long Island wine – from eight of the region’s best producers. Currently wines are available from Castello di Borghese, Waters Crest Winery, Ackerly Pond Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards, Cutchogue Cellars and Schneider Vineyards from the North Fork, Red Fern Cellars (the Island’s sole Kosher winery) in Queens and Wolffer Estate in Sagaponack
They are also selling locally made furniture, gifts and gourmet foods as well as prints and paintings by artist Doug Reina.
I haven’t had a chance to visit the store yet, but I did recently taste a couple of Blum’s wines, and while they aren’t going to unseat the Island’s best, they are good and food-friendly.
The Ackerly Pond Vineyards 2003 Chardonnay ($16) is a medium-to-light yellow and crystal clear in the glass. After a quick swirl, the nose offers fruity pear and tropical aromas with hints of vanilla custard. Flavors range from pear to pineapple and vanilla cream. This is a fresh, refreshing wine with good acidity for balance. A great food wine, I’d serve it with salmon or lobster dishes or as an aperitif. It’s not a great value at 16 bucks, but not preposterously over-priced either.
A Silver Medal winner at the 2005 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, the Ackerly Pond Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($19) is a relatively low tannin wine that offers a light nose of black fruit, cedar and a little smoke. Medium-bodied and somewhat rustic, its palate is filled with spicy plum and blackberry fruit flavors and smoky oak. I found the brief finish disappointing and a little tart-sour. I’d probably not drink it without food, so sip alongside grilled meat dishes.
Ackerly Pond Vineyards also makes a rosé made with Pinot Noir grapes and the mandatory Long Island Merlot, and all of Blum’s wines are bottled using synthetic corks.
If you find yourself in Westhampton this summer, check out the Hamptons Wine Boutique. It’s the best way to get a taste of Waters Crest Winery’s Riesling and Gewüürztraminer, Sherwood House Vineyards Chardonnay and the only kosher wines made with Long Island Grapes – without spending a day driving.