Today's Q & A is with one of my favorite people in Long Island wine, Roman Roth. He's the winemaker at Wolffer Estate in the Hamptons as well as at Roanoke Vineyards on the North Fork. He has also served (and still serves) as a consultant for several other producers, including Shinn Estate and Scarola Vineyards. But, the reason I enjoy him so much is that, despite being a bit of a superstar winemaker locally, he's extremely down to earth, genuine and quite funny.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
At my parents home in--lets say 1971--a taste of a bottle of Rosentaler Kardarka, a red that is a bit sweet from Bulgaria. I think the German wines were too sour for my soft little palate back then.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
Dancing with the beautiful wine queen from the Mosel when I was 15 years old.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
The Estate Selection Chardonnay 2003, which has it all. Rich, vibrant, concentrated, great acidity, great minerality, classic sur lee notes. A wine that will age for many years that is absolutely food friendly.
What has surprised you most about being a winemaker on Long Island?
How long it took to convince New Yorkers that we make world-class wine.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
Weizenbeer, German Rieslings from Rheingau, Barolos and Burgundies.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
Red wine with bad/cheep chocolate is the worst combination. The cocoa content has to be at least 70% to be a great combination.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
Tasting Champagne in the Champagne region while on private tour of the Champagne house with the owner/winemaker.
Drinking Sauternes together with my wife Dushy and Richie Pisacano in Bordeaux while having a picnic on the side of the road.
Any wine tasting together with my cousin and wine enthusiast Karlheinz. When at family get together we are having a spontaneous shoot out between my brother and my mother and me...of who can bring out the best wine and top the previous one. This can go on till the deep hours of the night.