Long Island Wine Tasting


May 13-14


We did a wine tasting trip to Long Island with Rick Morris, Elizabeth Fieux, Jim Hlavaty and his wife Londa Holsinger.  Hey, we know what you’re thinking:  “Long Island Iced Tea, sure, but … wine?  On Long Island?”  Having tasted wines from the Finger Lakes Region in New York, where “tasted” means “caused severe trauma of the mouth” and “wine” means “something almost but not quite as unpalatable as paint thinner,” we had our doubts, but when Jim broached the idea he made it sound pretty neat.  Cool, in fact.  Of course, this was at a gaming night where we were trying to help Rick empty out his old house by drinking as many of the dozens of bottles of scotch and bourbon as we could.  So it was right up there with licking banana slugs and wearing underwear on the outside of our blue jeans in terms of pretty neat and indeed cool ideas.  But once committed, it’s hard to back out of that kind of thing in the cold light of (sober) day.
Well, not really, but heck, it was still going to be a weekend of good friends and heavy drinking, so we called it a two thumbs up go!


We stayed at Elizabeth's sister's summer home in the Hamptons, which like all summer homes in the Hamptons was big and lovely and tasteful and had lots of sailing ship models strewn artfully around the house.  The Hamptons were that kind of place.  We'd bet that it's actually illegal not to have at least one sailing ship model in your house.  Certainly, all the businesses were held to similar standards; every store, every government office, every park, every street corner looked like it was a movie set from a colorized version of "Leave It to Beaver."  They had a bus service that ran regular buses all over the peninsula, but there was never anyone on them; if you were poor enough that you needed to take a bus, you were turned back at the border to go live in New York City with the other riff-raff.  

And mixed in with all this were the vineyards.  Hundreds of them with names like Kontokosta and Osprey's Dominion and Sannino Bella Vita and T'jara and Good Cheap Wine.  Ok, threw that last one in to see if you are paying attention.  Needless to say, it was clear that wine on Long Island was serious business.  But... did that make it good?

To alleviate any anxiety for those reading this, we will go ahead and throw a "spoiler" out there so you don't have to chew on your fingernails nervously until the end of the newsletter:  yes, we all made it back alive.  

And the wine was good.  Damn good.  Who knew?  Like our experiences in Walla Walla, the small vineyards were good but pricey; you pay a premium for what we'd like to call "false scarcity" but is real scarcity; the small places do not produce much, so you’re tasting something uncommon.  But surprisingly enough, there were larger places like Pindar that bottled enough that the prices were reaching the price/quality ratio of the better Cali vineyards.  And there were places like One Woman Winery that were small but had bottles that matched anything you could get in California or Washington, plus were varietals that were unusual, some we'd never heard of before.  And some of them sold Jeroboams, pronounced "Jeribomb," which sounds vaguely ominous but is in fact a double-magnum, or, more scientifically, a BIG ASS BOTTLE OF WINE.  Wikipedia classifies "Jeroboam" as biblical (origins of the name, at least), and we could not agree more.  So we bought two.  And, in case anyone is wondering, there are even larger bottles, moving from the Jeroboam to the Methuselah, then to the Salmanazar, then the Balthazar, then the Nebuchadnezzar 

We didn’t spend the entire time drinking, unfortunately.  There was a beach trip, with a free Alison photo bomb (pronounced “Jeribomb”) thrown in, the shoreline mostly empty despite the relatively warm weather. 

And we did a trip out to Montauk Point, the end of the island, with the Jeroboam light house (pronounced “Montauk”), which ended up being pretty cool; it was a fun and, dare we say, artistic climb to the top, with an awesome view, and there were a lot of displays inside explaining the history of the building (and lighthouses in general). 

While Alison and I were up there, smooching … I mean, looking out over the scenery... I said quizzically “that’s odd… there’s a huge line of cars waiting to pull into the visitor’s lot, and they are all fire engine red, low to the ground, and have dollar bills shooting out of their exhaust pipes.”  Turned out there’s a Ferrari owner’s club that does a yearly trip from NYC to Montuak Point (although, disappointingly enough, there were a few Lamborghinis mixed in, but at least the club kept the loser Porsche crowd out).  (Actually, no joke, there was a fire engine red Camaro that was in the lot before the Ferraris arrived and I joked “bet they thought they looked cool five minutes ago”).  The Ferrari club drivers were easy to spot due to the hot blond supermodels in spandex hanging off their arms trying to pretend they were not with someone twice their age. 

There were also other amusing attractions on Long Island, like the Big Duck (pronounced “Jeribomb”) which was a building shaped like a big duck that sold big duck paraphernalia.  So all in all, a good time for everyone, particularly me (I love my two Jerobaums, which are intended to be more decorative than practical).  We returned the way we arrived, with Jim and Londa, while Rick and Elizabeth went to visit her sister.  We travelled via the ferry to New London, where we passed the giant Electric Boat shipyard that I was stationed at for a while when I was in the Navy many years ago (I was on a new construction Los Angeles class submarine being built there), sadly devoid of any activity. 


All in all, a fun trip with a couple of cases of wine as a memento ... and the two Jerobaums, of course!