For this, our second post-TasteCamp interview, we talk to Dale Cruse, a website developer from Boston who is "helping to change the wine world." He likes to eat, likes to drink, and likes to write about both at his blog Drinks are On Me.
Was this your first time to Long Island wine country?
Had you ever had any Long Island wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them?
Very few. I had the Bedell Cellars First Crush Red and a few of the Bouke wines. The Bedell was tasty but a bit soft. The Bouke wines I found to be fun and drinkable. I was also impressed by the marketing savvy of Lisa Donneson of Bouke.
After tasting a representative sample of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
I wonder what Long Island wineries are thinking deciding that merlot is the grape they're going to stake their reputations on. To me, the merlots I tasted were all consistent but none were spectacular. "Consistent but not spectacular" is not a descriptor I would stake my reputation on.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
In terms of the overall experience, I really enjoyed Lenz. There I was reminded that a winemaker is equal parts public persona and farmer. I enjoyed tasting wines "in progress" followed by the finished product. That being said, I have to make special mention of lunch on Saturday (at Shinn Estate Vineyards). Not only were the wines fantastic, but the food was easily the best I ate all weekend. Very memorable!
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be?
For me, that's easy: The Shinn Estate Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc barrel samples we had at lunch on Saturday. If that had been available for sale, I definitely would have bought some!