Today's TasteCamp interview is with Erika Strum, who I've had the pleasure of hanging out with more than any other blogger at TasteCamp (a whopping 3 times).
Erika works in her family business at Wine Enthusiast Companies where she is involved in many aspects of online marketing. She writes for 3 blogs: the
Wine Enthusiast Magazine blog (UnReserved), the Wine Enthusiast Catalog blog, (Winstons Wisdoms) and her personal blog, StrumErika.com
Was this your first time to Long Island wine country?
No, I visited last summer for the first time.
Had you ever had any Long Island wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them?
Yes, last summer I visited Bedell, Macari, Paumanok, Lieb Cellars, Peconic Bay and the Tasting Room (a boutique wine shop).
When I last visited I started to appreciate oaked chardonnay again. There were some nice examples at Bedell and Paumanok that still allowed the fruit to show, but had a nice lush character. I really enjoyed the Macari sauvignon blanc I had as well. There were some decent merlots, but I wasn't blown away by anything. It seemed like some wineries were trying to produce Bordeaux-style wines and charge highly for them, but they weren't up to par for me. I heard a lot of comparison to French wine regions which I thought unnecessary.
Long Island should stand on its own.
After tasting a larger sample of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
I definitely tried some merlot and cabernet franc that impressed me. Wolffer and Pellegrini namely for merlot and Shinn Estate for cabernet franc. I was also really excited about what's going on at Channing Daughters with their experimentation with whites.
I got the impression that the winemakers are truly passionate about what they're doing and they're excited to try new things.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
I would have to say cabernet franc only because I have limited experience with it and it seems like some great examples are being made on Long Island.
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
Maybe I'm cheating with this response, but I found many of the red blends to be disappointing, except for the Marco Tulio at Roanoke.
Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
Shinn Estate, probably because they fed us so well!
But in all seriousness, I really enjoyed the down-to-earth discussion we had over lunch with the winemakers. I did not feel that we were getting a marketing spiel. They were telling us honestly how difficult it can be to grow grapes in Long Island and why they do it. You can't replicate that.
The 1997 Pellegrini Merlot. It was tough to spit that one out!