By New York City Correspondent Sasha Smith
My husband, friend and I had the opportunity to help out with the harvest at The Old Field last weekend.
The North Fork's easternmost vineyard (it's in Southold) The Old Field produces the typical-for-the-region chardonnay, merlot, cab franc line up, as well as a pinot noir and sparkling wine that has won
considerable acclaim. Owners Chris and Ros Baiz and their daughter Perry tend the 12 acres surrounding
their house overlooking Peconic Bay, and Lenz vintner Eric Fry makes the wines. (Full disclosure: my
husband and I got married at The Old Field last year.)
Braving a torrential, if brief, morning downpour, we brought in a couple hundred pounds of sauvignon blanc and Sémillon for their Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, a new addition to The Old Field's roster this year. These varietals represent a small percentage of the chardonnay-based sparkler, but Ros said they'll contribute complexity to the wine.
The work wasn't as arduous as I had expected, but it was definitely slow-going. Ros showed us how to snip the clusters – as close to the shoot as possible – warned us not to cut ourselves, and told us to inspect the fruit carefully and discard anything that looked suspect. She also encouraged us to sample the merchandise. At about 20 Brix, a relatively low sugar level as is standard for sparkling wines, the fruit still tasted plenty sweet.
To reward our efforts, Ros invited us in for lunch and some wine. It may not have been quite as sublime as, say, Château d'Yquem and foie gras, but we decided that tomato soup, tuna melts and Rooster Tail, The Old Field's Merlot/Cab blend, makes for a damn good food-wine pairing, particularly after a few cold, wet hours in the vineyard. We chatted with Ros about the subjectivity of wine tasting, the troubled, rain-soaked 2005 harvest on the East End, and what she likes to drink when she's not drinking their own wines (Rhone, white Bordeaux and Burgundy, to name a few).
She sent us away with the fruits (literally) of our labor – a cluster of Sauvignon Blanc and one of Sémillon. We also purchased a few bottles of their Blanc de Noir – one to drink now and one to cellar and break out for a sparkling wine taste-off when "our" wine is released, if we can wait that long.