Laurellake_00cf(This column appeared in the 6/17/05 issue of Dan’s Papers) 
Ever since the release of the movie Sideways, pinot noir has been the
“it” wine. Even here on Long Island, I’ve been told stories about
customers walking into a tasting room and buying bottle after bottle of pinot noir – without even tasting it or knowing how much it costs.

As difficult as Pinot Noir can be to grow and make (well), that sort of
impulse buying seems a little silly to me. But of the handful of Long
Island wineries that make it, most do it well, including Castello di
, Broadfields Wine Cellars (under the Tasting Room label) and
Wolffer Estate.

Laurel Lake Vineyards
in on Main Road in Laurel can now be added to the
list. The 2003 Laurel Lake Vineyards Pinot Noir ($30), the winery’s
first pinot noir release, offers classic aromas of wet earth, grilled
mushrooms and cherries. In the mouth, this seductive wine is velvety
and smooth with stylish cherry flavors. The finish is lengthy, and as
these vines (planted eight to ten years ago) age, I expect Chilean
winemaker Claudio Zamorano to craft wines that are even more complex
and intriguing. He only made 100 cases this time around, so make sure
you try it before it’s gone

While the pinot is the standout of the wines I tasted, Zamorano’s 2002
Chardonnay Estate Bottled Reserve ($16)
isn’t far behind. It is complex
on the nose with tropical fruit aromas of pineapple and papaya mingling
with hints of toasty oak, vanilla cream and spice. Medium-to-full
bodied, it displays a nice balance between clean fruit character and
toasty oak influence on the palate. The finish, which starts with
pineapple and cream, finishes with hints of sweet spices. At $16, this
is a very good buy and at $11, the 2003 Chardonnay is an even better
one if you like less oak and more pineapple and citrus flavors.

The 2000 Cabernet Franc ($15), slated for a July release, is a little
rough and angular right out of the bottle, but with a few hours to
breath, its substantial tannins open up some to reveal spicy, peppery
cherry flavors underneath. A year from now, I plan to taste this one

A respectable 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) is fuller bodied and fruit
forward with raspberry and blueberry flavors, but I found the finish to
be a little raw with oak, though it was also sprinkled lightly with

It’s not a new release, but the Laurel Lake Vineyards 2002 Syrah ($19)
is a promising, full-bodied red that is another varietal to watch at
Laurel Lake Vineyards. It’s one of the best ones made locally.

In a few years, I also look forward to trying the first Laurel Lake
Vineyards sauvignon blanc. They just planted four acres this year.

Laurel Lake will be hosting two harvest festivals this fall – one on
Saturday, September 25, and another on Saturday, October 5. Festivities
include a gourmet lunch, special vineyard tours, hay rides, barrel
tastings, grape clippings and cheese pairings.

For more information on Laurel Lakes Vineyards, its wines or its
harvest festivals, visit or call 631-298-1420.