The judges tasting and scoring reds from Long Island, France and California

By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

I walked in to Saturday night's "Judgment of Riverhead" tasting at Roanoke Vineyards with an intoxicating blend of excitement, curiosity and nervousness.

Glasses. The wine lover in me was near-giddy about tasting so many top wines blind. Blind tasting is one of my favorite things to do — especially when I get to taste with winemakers and other industry folks. I wish I got to do it more often.

The local wine enthusiast in me wondered what Long Island wines would be poured and just how they'd stack up against the unknown-but-highly rated wines from France and California. Would top wineries send their top guns? A look around the room offered clues — several winery owners and winemaker were there. Was that a coincidence or were there wines in the lineup?

I also went into this tasting with a lot of questions. And I walked out few new or concrete answers — and even more questions.

In a future post, I'll pose and discuss some of these questions and offer some insights from some of my fellow judges as well. It was a fascinating evening and one that is deserving of thoughtful analysis.

Today though, I want to focus on the wines — local and not — themselves and discuss the results of the scoring.

As I mentioned in my preview post, we tasted 18 wines total — 9 white and 9 red — with three each from Long Island, France and California.

The whites were all chardonnay and were (organized by region, not scoring):

  • 2008 Marsanny Blanc "Champs Perdrix" Marc Roy
  • 2008 Meurault "L'ormeau" Boyer-Martenot
  • 2008 Puligny Montrachet "Le Trezin" Colin-Morey
  • 2007 Martinelli "Martinelli Road" Chardonnay (By Helen Turley)
  • 2008 Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay
  • 2008 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
  • 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards "Vintner's Pride" Chardonnay
  • 2007 Wolffer Estate "Perle" Chardonnay
  • 2008 Palmer Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve

Whites The winner by overall scoring was the Pellegrini 2007 "Vintner's Pride" Chardonnay.

My highest-scored whites was the Puligny Montrachet, but as you can see (the numbers in the left column are the overall scores) the Long Island wines fared well overall. I scored the Palmer highly.

Interestingly, my lowest score went to the winning wine, which I also thought was from California.

After all of that that barrel-influenced chardonnay, I was ready to move on to the nine reds — and they did not disappoint:

  • 2004 Leoville Poyferre
  • 2004 Gruaud Larose
  • 2004 Cos D'Estournel
  • 2007 Ramey "Annum" Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 Detert Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 Paul Hobbs "Crossbarn" Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2004 Grapes of Roth Merlot
  • 2007 Macari Vineyards "Bergen Road"
  • 2007 Roanoke Vineyards 2007 "Blend One"

Reds There was an tie for the top spot after the judges' scores were tallied — the Roanoke and the Detert Family, two wines that truly couldn't be more divergent in style.

My highest score went to the Leoville Poyferre, with the Roanoke and Detert following just behind. I liked the Detert enough that I'm actually going to track some down and drink it again.

Today, I say congratulations to all of the Long Island wineries who took part, especially the winners, and also want to congratulate the fine folks at Roanoke Vineyards for putting on a well-conceived and well-organized tasting.

If you were there — and I know several of our readers were — what were your impressions? Did you agree with the judges? What were your favorite wines?