I can still remember my first sip of Peconic Bay Winery’s steel fermented Chardonnay like it was yesterday. I had just moved to Long Island and was then only flirting with the region and its wines. This flirtation has since become an all-out love affair and I count this wine as one that stoked the fire of my neophyte palate.
At the time, my vision of Chardonnay was of the flabby butter bombs with big everything – oak, vanilla, fruit – that I had tasted from both Australia and California. Based on my early experiences with those wines, I used to always say “No thanks, I don’t like Chardonnay” when presented with a pour at a tasting room. Then I tried this wine and my eyes were opened for the very first time.
It was then that I finally tasted what Chardonnay tasted like – the grape, not the winemaker’s influence. I was hooked and have since found that Long Island winemakers are realizing that they needn’t put such a heavy footprint on this grape. Particularly in recent years, you can find many no-oak and judiciously oaked Chardonnays that I not only like, I embrace them for their balance and refinement.
2005, a particularly hot, dry year on Long Island, has produced many big-fruit, low-acid whites – a style that just doesn’t appeal to me. Local whites are at their best when the cool night winds off the Atlantic Ocean or other surrounding bays preserve fresh, food-friendly acidity within the just-ripe grapes. I was worried that 2005 might strip this wine of its freshness, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got this bottle.
Fresh on the nose with almost Sauvignon Blanc-like grapefruit and other citrus aromas, there is also a faint mineral note that adds interest. The palate is just as fresh, with a light, lithe body with loads of citrus and terrific acidity. Not a wine to be pondered or – heaven-forbid, cellar – it’s a mouth-watering wine for sure.