Putting the Sparkle in Long Island Sparkling Wine
“I only drink Champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.”
- Lily Bollinger.
Ok. Fine. I’ll admit it. The above is a stupid and cheesy and overused quote. But can you blame me for buying into it? Is there ever a time that’s inappropriate to sip on bubbles? The iconic pop of the cork. The bottle is audibly excited to be part of the celebration.
Crémant, Cava, Proscecco. This type of wine by any name should have a place in your glass at anytime of the year and with almost any sort culinary situation. And would you believe that some fantastic examples of the stuff could possibly be coming out of a winery in Long Island, New York?
The East End of Long Island is 90 miles from Manhattan and made famous by the opulent Hamptons portrayed in pop culture treats like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or the Country Music Television masterpiece, My Big Redneck Vacation. If you’re cruising down the Long Island Expressway and you can overcome your inner Zoolander to turn left instead of right, *there’s* the North Fork: a farm-focused community sans the sprawling estates and hedges of their South Fork neighbors, but rich in local produce, beautiful scenery and wineries.
And to the point of this article is Sparkling Pointe: the only North Fork winery specializing in wines produced entirely in the Methode Traditionelle, a.k.a. Champenoise.*
At the helm of this project is Gilles Martin, born in the Champagne region of France. He came to Sparkling Pointe after working in Europe, a stint at Champagne Louis Roederer’s Roederer Estate in California and helping open wineries across the region (Sherwood House, Martha Clara, Marcari.)
There are five wines currently available for tasting:
NV Brut $29
2009 Topaz Imperial $37
2007 Blanc De Blanc $42
2003 Brut Seduction $60
2008 Blanc De Noir $75
While the blends are balanced and worth sampling, the standouts are the wines that stuck to one or two varietals.
Their Blanc De Blanc releases are consistently good. (The 2005 won a Bronze at the New York International Wine Competition.) This golden elixir of 100% Chardonnay is lean with a barely toasted piece of Challah aroma. Your first sip of lemon curd and Granny Smith flavors keep you occupied 'til you hit the creamy finish. Clean, Crisp. It screams to be paired with sushi or canapés or consumed on your couch during a particularly awesome episode of Game of Thrones.
At $75 Dollars, I admit this wine is not cheap. But I assure you that the price only reflects its taste. Made with 54% Pinot Meunier and 46% Pinot Noir, the skin contact gives this wine a festive blush color. If you stick your nose right in the glass, you’ll find ripe berries, marzipan and fresh cherries. On your lips, this medium bodied wine with perfect tiny teeny bubbles transforms into a rich fruit salad of golden raspberries, sour cherry with lemon zest on top. Rivals any from across the ocean.
It’s now apparent that Spain, France and even England are not alone is producing grapes that can turn into a truly special sparkling wine. But how can it work in New York? Lenn Thompson, the publisher and executive editor of The New York Cork Report says it’s a matter of geography. When asked about the potential for greatness in Long Island and New York State sparkling wines in general, he said, “It’s a Well-suited cooler climate, with natural acidity and… grapes will almost always get ripe enough for bubbly, even in less than ideal years.”
In Sparkling Pointe’s tasting room, you’ll be treated to everything sparkling wine should be from a small batch grower: Elegant, smooth, exciting, but still accessible. If it’s in season, take a seat on the patio among the vines and enjoy.
*For anyone who doesn’t know, sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region are discouraged and sometimes legally prohibited from calling their product Champagne. It’s a little elitist, but it helps keep things organized.
Sparkling Pointe Vineyard and Winery
39750 County Road 48 Southold, NY 11971