2010 Pinot Grigio ($20)
Definitely not your average pinot grigio, this is a wine with character and beautiful texture. The winery describes it as "alive with aromas and flavors of pears, white flowers, minerals, spice and what is becoming a tell-tale note in our whites; a salty, chalky minerality." They recommend pairing it with local fish and shellfish — especially fried — sheep’s milk cheeses, zucchini frirtatas, light chicken dishes, pastas and charcuterie.
2009 Research Cab ($40)
This wine gets its name from the vineyard source, a research vineyard on the North Fork where many varieties are grown and then vinified into the wine. The 2009 edition of this wine is 38% dornfelder, 32% merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 4% Blaufrankisch, 3% pinot noir, 3% cabernet franc, 3% syrah, 2% Semebat, 2% Barbera, 1% Segalin, 1% malbec and 1% sangiovese. Winemaker Chris Tracy describes it as displaying "Beautiful clarity and a ruby-red hue coupled with aromas of red and black raspberry, cherry, plum, dark bramble fruit and spice, met with an elegance of texture and a supple, smooth palate with enough underlying tannic structure and juicy acidity for the wine to develop and improve in the bottle. Fewer than 150 cases were made and, unfortunately for us, it is already sold out.
Comtesse Thérèse 2010 Rosé ($16)
Owner-winemaker Theresa Dilworth makes this wine entirely from cabernet sauvignon. She compares it to the rosés of Provence with "a medium color reminiscent of fresh watermelon" with "strawberry aroma, with raspberry and pomegranate on the palate, and a pleasant balance between acidity and a faint sweetness. Good with cheeses, smoked duck, smoked or cured meat and fish, spicy dishes, and lighter meals." Only 56 cases were made.
Comtesse Thérèse 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($28)
This fresh, aromatic white is made with one-third estate-grown fruit with the remaining two-thirds grown at Palmer Vineyards. Dilworth says this wine as having "diamond-like clarity and purity of color" and feels it has "light, dry fruitiness and crisp acidity, working like a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime and grapefruit." She recommends drinking it with leafy mesclun salad, cheeses, fish and shellfish, vegetable gratin dishes and curry sauces.
Peconic Bay Winery NV Nautique Esprit de Rouge ($18)
Peconic Bay's Nautique line is one of the region's more successful second labels offering consistent value. This edition of the red is made with 46% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, 11% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot, 2% pinot noir and 1% syrah. It is a surprisingly complex wine at this price point.
Sherwood House Vineyards 2007 Blanc de Blancs ($42)
Winemaker Gilles Martin — who also makes the wines for bubbly specialist Sparkling Pointe — crafts this wine entirely from chardonnay grapes. 2007 was a hot year on the North Fork, so to preserve natural acidity in the fruit the grapes were harvested early in September. Martin describes this wine as having "aromas of citrus, white pears and vanilla ... with doughiness on the palate that comes from three years of aging in contact with the fine yeast from the secondary fermentation." Because this is a traditionally made sparkling wine, that secondary fermentation — which gives the wine its bubbles — is done in the bottle.
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot ($42)
This merlot-heavy blend (with petit verdot and malbec) is named after the estate's nine favorite barrels — 225 cases total. According to the winery this wine "exhibits refined tannins with elegant flavors of blackberry and black plum as well as distinctive aromas of violet, chocolate and earth."
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc ($38)
Shinn Estate consistently makes one of the region's best cabernet francs — almost regardless of vintage. This wine is 100% cabernet franc and "exhibits gentle tannins, elegant flavors of red cherry and aromas of exotic spices" according to the winery. They suggest trying it with grilled meats, game birds or roasted mushrooms.