Long Island wines get rave reviews
NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - What do the Wine Advocate, the Wine Enthusiast and The New York Times have in common?
"They all been raving about Long Island wines," said Jane Starwood, editor of the Long Island Wine Press.
It's been more than 30 years since Louisa and Alex Hargrave founded the first commercial winery on 66 acres of sandy, loamy soil on a spit of land about a two hour drive due east of New York City.
Today, there are more than 37 wineries that are members of the Long Island Wine Council and more than 3,000 acres of vineyards.
Jutting out about 100 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the mild climate and soil resemble that of Graves area in Bordeaux. Paul Lukacs, author of The Rise of American Wine, noted that unlike big California wineries, those on Long Island seemed to be inspired by the "artisanal, agrarian yeoman, working the land."
As a result, the wines are coming into their own.
Robert Parker, the man credited with creating the 100-point wine-rating method and publisher of the Wine Advocate, sent David Schildknecht as his designated reviewer to the Long Island vineyards in 2006 to report back. The results -- of the 69 wines sampled, more than 20 from different producers had scores of 90 or above.
"Amazing for such a young region, don't you agree," Starwood said.
Most of the wineries are relatively small family-owned operations and some do better with the Merlot grape, while for others Cabernet Sauvignon thrives.
"There are many different microclimates," on the two narrow strips of land that make up Long Island's North and South Forks, Starwood explained.
On the South Fork, where there are fewer vineyards, she noted the Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton is best known for its unusual white wines such as Tocai Friulano.
On the North Fork where most of the vineyards are situated, Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue produces a Merlot that is in the words of Schildknecht "Burgundian in its potential."
Long Island wines have their royalty - both the European and movie kind. The Hargraves sold their vineyard in 1999 to an Italian prince and his wife, an American, who have renamed it, Castello di Borghese. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are their signature wines.
And Michael Lynne, co-chairman and co-chief executive of Time Warner's New Line Cinema, owns both Bedell and Corey Creek wineries. Bedell is known for its Bordeaux-style reds, while Corey Creek is getting a reputation for producing tasty Gewurztraminers.
Wine drinkers are beginning to flock to the area, which in 2005 saw 1.2 million visitors, up from 940,000 the year before, but it still is less commercial and less developed than its California counterparts.
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