By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
1,000 cases is not a lot of wine. But that's about how much Jim Waters makes every year at Waters Crest Winery, making him one of the smallest producers on Long Island. For a little perspective, consider that Wolffer Estate Vineyards makes more 9,000 cases -- of rose -- every year.
Waters’ tasting room is small too, tucked into an otherwise non-descript industrial plaza on Route 48 in Cutchogue. Most days, you’ll find Water in the tasting room -- which is mere feet from the garage-sized winery itself. His enthusiasms for wine, winemaking and the local wine community are infectious and despite the winery’s easy-to-drive-right-by location, he’s amassed quite a following, with nearly 400 members in his wine club.
That wine club isn’t a just a cult of personality. There are some tasty wines in the surprisingly diverse portfolio, which I tasted through on a recent visit. A few wines stood out.
Driven by strawberry and watermelon flavors, there is also a welcome zing of lemon-grapefruit and a subtle sprinkling of sweet herbs. There is a bit of creamy weight on the mid-palate, but it’s balanced very well by citrusy acidity. A beautiful and no-doubt versatile rose.
Another standout was the Waters Crest Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($23) made with fruit grown at Palmer Vineyards. The fruit here is tropical and dominated by passion fruit with understated grassy-hay notes and gentle, but present, acidity.
For the second year in a row, Waters purchased riesling from Wagner Vineyards on Seneca Lake to make his Waters Crest Winery 2010 Dry Riesling ($20) – which was just released. Though still a bit taut and ungiving, it shows slate and flint qualities backed by sweet lime and subtle peach fruit character. It is dry with fresh, but soft, acidity. Another three to six months in the bottle will help lengthen the finish and unravel its flavors.
On the red side of things, the real star was the Waters Crest Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc “Grand Vin” ($40). Ripe and intense on the nose, it shows aromas and flavors of black cherry and crushed blackberry with an intriguing earthy edge and sweet oak notes.
Some 2007 reds -- because of the hot, dry season and extended maceration -- need time to soften and round out. This one is ready to drink today. It has everything cab franc lovers are looking for.