Forgive the gap in getting this TasteCamp interviews posted. There are still a few to come, but I'll probably space them out a bit, now that we're relatively distant from the event itself.
Today's interviewee is a fellow New Yorker, Nick Gorevic. As with many of the East Coast-based wine bloggers, I had to go to Santa Rosa, CA last fall for the 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference to meet him.
Nick is works in a retail wine store in Manhattan, and runs Homewineschool.com, a business that provides everything you need to educate yourself about wine in the privacy of your own home. If you live in the New York City metropolitan area, he will come to your house and give you a customized wine class. If you live elsewhere, he can ship you a wine class in a box.
Nick believes that wine education should be fun and unpretentious, and is all about tasting what's in the glass in front of you.
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?
Yes, I'd had a few. I had a pretty good impression that generally they were made in a french style which appeals to my personal palate. I had also heard, however, that there was some pricing issues in comparison to other winemaking areas.
After tasting a representative sample of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
My impression now is that the majority of Long Island wines are vastly over priced. I enjoy the style of many of the wines, but I feel like their prices are inflated due to the wineries ability to sell all of their wine to local wealthy consumers in the Hamptons and New York City. Far higher quality wines made in a similar style can be obtained for significantly less money from other areas of the world, mainly including the Loire Valley in France. As a retailer, I have a keen eye for wine prices, and I know that 95% of the wines I tasted would not sell on the shelf because they just don't compete price-wise.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
I liked the cabernet franc wines the most. I think this is due to the fact that it's just a more interesting and complex grape than merlot. Not to say that merlot is always uninteresting. Cab franc seems like it is the kind of grape that has enough flavor on its own to be interesting without complex soil, although it certainly benefits from good soil as well.
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
Certainly some of the finest wines in the world are made from Merlot, but those wines come from areas with some the most outstanding soil on earth. At least based on what i tasted in Long Island, it seems to me that Merlot does not respond very well to uninteresting soil. Perhaps Merlot is a grape that truly reflects the terroir in a very pure way. That would explain why all the Merlots I tasted seemed very similar to each other. There just isn't much difference in Terroir from one vineyard to another in Long Island.
Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
The best winery stop for me is a close matchup between Channing Daughters and Shinn Estates. I think I have to give the edge to Shinn, because they passed around the pot full of horn manure at the lunch table. Now that's dedication to biodynamic winemaking! Their setup was really beautiful and they served us such a nice lunch that they won me over.
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be?
My wine of the weekend is the Channing Daughters 2007 Scutttlehole Chardonnay. This wine is everything I would hope for from an up and coming wine region. It's funky with lots of character, and sits at a great price point- $15. When I think of other up and coming wine regions, like Chile, Argentina, or Hungary, I value them because if you look hard enough for really great producers, you can find unbelievable values. The Scuttlehole Chardonnay was the only wine I saw all weekend that fell into that bracket. As a retailer I have to be very focused on the price to value ratio, and too many of the Long Island Wines have prices that compare very poorly with wines of the same caliber from other regions.