My dad, sister, mom and Nena inside the Lenz Winery tasting room.

As I mentioned on Sunday, Nena, Jackson and I took my parents and sister to visit a couple wineries on Saturday, including The Lenz Winery.
Lenz is one of the North Fork’s most respected producers and
employs one of the regions most gifted and charismatic winemakers –
Eric Fry.

If you ever find yourself in the Lenz tasting room and see a guy in overalls
with a long ponytail and beard, that’s Eric. Say hello and he just might stop what he's doing to taste with you. One day a few years ago, he spent a couple hours with me and Nena, taking us into the sparkling wine cellar to taste several vintages of bubbly pre-dosage.

I actually learned last week that that the Lenz tasting room opens at 10 a.m. (rather than the usual 11 a.m. in these parts), which is great for those of us with young children who still need a nap after lunch but still want to visit a couple of tasting rooms on a weekend morning.

We arrived around 10:20 a.m. and had the tasting room to ourselves for much of our visit, with only a few wine club members stopping in to pick up shipments and taste new wines. It had been a while since we visited the tasting room, so we decided to taste the entire portfolio. Each wine had its merits, although I didn't love the blatantly West Coast-styled 2006 Gold Label Chardonnay ($20). It wasn't flabby like a lot of California wines, but the butterscotch and vanilla flavors overwhelm the fruit.

As most of you know, I don't write full reviews (or score) wines based on at-winery tastings, but here are some notes I wrote as we tasted:

Lenz Winery 2005 Gewurztraminer ($20): Nice varietal aromas and flavors. Rose petal, pineapple and spice. Great acid balance. Very Alsatian.

Lenz Winery 2005 White Lable Chardonnay ($12): All steel. Pineapple, apple and lemon. Great acid. Mouth-filling and broad for a steel ferm. Steal at $12.

Lenz Winery 2005 Old Vines Chardonnay ($25): Great balance of fruit vs. oak. Pear and apples. Nice toast and vanilla notes. Good value.

Lenz Winery 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15): Lighter, every day style. Soft. Cherry and cranberry. Nice fruit from cooler year. Understated toasty oak. Hints of briar and strawberry on finish.

Lenz Winery 2002 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon ($40). Cherry, raspberry. Lush and broad. Oak in background here. Fine, well-integrated tannins. Great sweet fruit with nice structure. LI's best?

Lenz Winery 2003 Merlot ($15): Plum and cherry. Thin and a little underripe. Just okay.

Lenz Winery 2001 Estate Merlot ($23): Bordeaux with a bit more fruit and softer tannins. Great balance of fruit, oak and earth-spice. Really nice value.

Lenz Winery 2001 Old Vines Merlot ($55): Even better than the last time I had it. Plenty of time left. Plenty of plum/cherry left. Earthy funk in a good way. Tannins still grippy, but integrated. Plenty of life left. Outstanding.