On this beautiful Monday morning, we catch up with Joe Roberts, a fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fan who just happens to publish one of my favorite wine blogs, 1WineDude, which he sometimes describes as "Wine Edutainment for Intermediate Wine Lovers."
Joe isn't a one-trick pony, however. He's a wine consultant and musician in the greater Philadelphia area, and holds the Level 3 Certificate in Wine & Spirits from
the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). He is also a member of the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators, holding their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) qualification, and is a member of the Wine Century Club.
Was this your first time to Long Island wine country?
Yeah — fist time to LI wine country, though I have been on Long Island before (but only had the beer back then…). What struck me the most was how nice the folks were in the wineries and the restaurants. Also, I am finding it difficult to believe that I did not get pulled over once despite what seems like a ratio of 6 police cars for every 1 civilian automobile on LI.
Had you ever had any Long Island wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them?
Nope. I went into TasteCamp blind as a bat when it comes to Long Island wines. So I really had no impression of them one way or another, aside from some expectation-setting based on PA and VA wines. Like many, many other bloggers, the only information I've received on Long Ilsnad wines has really been through LENNDEVOURS.com.
After tasting a large sampling of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
I was really pleasantly surprised by the wines that we tasted. We always hear about one Right Coast wine region being one cusp of really taking off, but Long Island is already "in flight" and in some cases is making amazing wine. I'm convinced that Long Island wines can have success in markets outside of the greater New York area.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
It's a tie. Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
I haven't tasted those two varieties exhibiting such good balance in wines made in the U.S. before. They show, I think, enormous potential and I'll bet if some of them were tasted blind against similar wines from Europe, the West Coast, Australia… only Europe would be able to beat them blind.
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
Chardonnay, for sure. Not bad, but not distinct. Either they were uninteresting, or were decent but over-priced.
Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
Well, I suppose it's no surprise if you read my wrap-up on TasteCamp at 1WineDude.com that I was most impressed in general with Channing Daughters, and with Chris Tracy's approach (focus on maximizing the quality of the white wines, experimenting to find the right combination of varietal and LI terroir).
I'm sure a big part of it is that Chris and I seem to share similar views on the future of LI wines, etc. But hey, so I'm biased — big deal.
Having said that, it's worth pointing out that every single winemaker that we met impressed me in some way, shape or form. It's amazing to find a group of such inspired and inspiring people in one place. They really have something special there, and I hope they don't take it for granted.
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be?
You LOVE this question, man… we can never get through a Twitter Taste Live event without you asking this… Of course, I love it because it forces me to focus and give detail behind my picks so you keep me honest!
Anyway… (I'm just stalling now….)…
It's a tie:
Channing Daughters 2007 Vino Bianco (for all the reasons described above – experimentation, Italian-inspired white wine focus, etc.)
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc (I know it's not released yet, but it was f–king sublime, I couldn't stop tasting it).
A close second was the current release of botrytized late-harvest wine from Wolffer, based soley on the pure honey finish that lasted for about a year (give or take a few months).