Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Deetrane Invades Long Island's North Fork

My good friends Deetrane and his wife P-trane just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary with a weekend in the North Fork of Long Island. Dee and P were happily surprised at how much they liked the wines. Deetrane still says to me each time I see him now "Do you realize that this is our own BACKYARD?!?" I'm pretty sure that he wants to go back. I know that he came home with at least two cases of wine. Anyway, the following is a bit about the weekend from Deetrane himself. He's a vastly entertaining fellow - don't hesitate to check out his older guest posts.

It's been a while since my last post, and the Brooklynguy has been hounding me to pound one out, so here I am. No, I'm sorry, I don't have any tales to tell about Russian wine-gangsters or the Schlitz-shchlurping NYPD vice squad. Rather, I have a lovely story to tell about an eye-opening visit to… The North Fork of Long Island.

For our 5th anniversary weekend, P-trane and I arrived by car from NYC and following Lenn's suggestion, checked into the Harvest Inn B&B in Peconic. It's a sprawling, 5 year-old replica of a big old farmhouse with wide plank pine floors, super high ceilings and lots of fireplaces. The owners, Darolyn and Chris, welcomed us with gusto and a chilled bottle of chardonnay.

Overall, I was astounded at the consistency and quality of the wines we tasted, which were those of The Lenz, Paumanok, Pellegrini, Peconic Bay and Borghese. These wines have a determinedly old-world feel, in which fruit plays heavily but not excessively, alcohol levels are on the low side (12-13%), and words like integration, balance and harmony come to mind. Given my partiality for Northern Italian, Spanish and Burgundy wines, I felt like I was being reunited with a long-lost relative. There was a certain familiarity combined with fascination of the new.

The high point of the weekend was a vigorous personal tour of the vineyards and winery at Peconic Bay by wine maker Greg Gove. Never has anyone – except maybe Maria de López de Heredia – been so generous and enthusiastic about delving so deeply into their craft with a complete stranger. The low point, such as it was, was probably the wine tasting on Saturday evening at the Harvest Inn. Owner and chef Chris, who just that morning had been a total teddy bear serving his delicious apple-cinnamon pancakes, became an utter tyrant while pouring a fabulous 2002 Peconic Bay Cabernet Sauvignon and an equally impressive 2005 Reisling. Imagine you are back in 4th grade gym class, and the teacher is warning you that you will be ejected from the class if you dribble that basketball before he is done lecturing on the physics of a jump shot. And you're thinking, "geez, I just wanna play ball." We were instructed not only when to drink, but how to swirl, how to hold the class, and what to think about while swallowing. Notwithstanding, the wine was superb and made us that much more excited for our private tour the following day.

We made culinary stops at The North Fork Table and Inn, and Jedediah Hawkins' Inn , which seem to occupy the top two restaurant slots by reputation. Both were memorable for their fresh, local ingredients, but despite raves from the press, locals, and our fellow guests at the inn, the only truly distinctive aspect of meals at those places was the honey-tasting we had for dessert at Jed's, consisting of four markedly different local honeys.

In fact, the best meal I had was at The Vine, a wine bar in Greenport run by investment banker turned sommelier Joe Watson. Either he was a really terrible banker or a really great one, both of which could explain his apparent retirement at the age of 32. I suspect it was the latter. The first thing I saw on the ample wines-by-the-glass list was a 1988 López de Heredia Vina Tondonia, which I instantly ordered for $20 because of the nostalgic pull from my honeymoon trip, previously described here in my last guest post. Imagine my shock and embarrassment when Joe revealed that he, too, had also gotten the tapas treatment by Maria when he was in Rioja! At least Joe didn't get to raid the library with the gnarly moldy vine-rope.


Anonymous said...

Again, glad you had such a good time...

Saw Neil at Uncorked and told him that you guys need to all come out again so we can taste together, eat some cheese and just enjoy the East End.

Joe said...

Welcome back, Deetrane - was Peconic your favourite wine as well, or just the tour? Just curious - thinking about visiting the area on my next NYC trip...

Deetrane said...

Thanks for the invite Lenn!

Joe - I had a hard time picking a favorite. Consistency was the most noticeable quality across all the wines I tasted.