Top 5 Long Island Wines for California Wine Drinkers
Many of my readers and friends know that I lived in California for a few years as I struck out to learn more about my industry. My palate is very California-centric, preferring bigger, bolder, juicier wines and I know I’m not alone in that. When I came back to Long Island, I worked (briefly) in Wine Journalism and I set out to make a list of wines that were made on Long Island that California wine drinkers would enjoy, thinking, in my naïveté, that I wouldn’t find any. I am more than happy to announce that I was wrong! Here’s my list of the Top 5 Long Island Wines that California Wine Drinkers will love:
#5: Channing Daughters’ L’enfant Sauvage Chardonnay 2016 - I had the opportunity to taste at Channing Daughters twice now; once, back in 2012 when I was studying to be a Sommelier, and again, now, when I decided I wanted to bring their wines into Bogey’s for our customers to enjoy. I loved the wines back then, and I love them again now! L’enfant Sauvage is the buttery, bright, lightly oaked Chardonnay you’ve been looking for. Drinking like red apples soaked in butter and dabbed with cinnamon, this is my new favorite Chardonnay. If you’re looking for a local wine to scratch that California Chardonnay itch, take this wine for a spin!
#4: McCall ‘Cuvée Nicola’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021 - My favorite Sauvignon Blanc on Long Island! Ok, some context. I was introduced to McCall through my friend and fellow professional wine nerd, David Chinn, who was in turn introduced to McCall by our mutual friend Suellen Tunney. I even worked for McCall for a time, purely because of my love of this wine! So why will it appeal to California drinkers? Unlike many Long Island Sauvignon Blancs, Cuvée Nicola picks up some of those tropical flavors like pineapple and guava that are so common to Sauvignon Blanc from Napa and Sonoma. Pleasant, beautiful, and so easy to drink!
#3: Paumanok Cabernet Franc 2019 - Considered one of Long Island’s best grapes, Cabernet Franc grows beautifully here. Despite this, Cabernet Sauvignon does not, so this is really the best “Cabernet” you can get and that can put people off. Well here’s the scoop - it shouldn’t! Cabernet Franc is a grape that has plenty of bright acidity, while maintaining the depth and character of the best Cabernet Sauvignons. Paumanok creates the finest expression of Cabernet Franc on the island (in my opinion), and is well worth the time and attention of any California Cab drinker!
#2: Anthony Nappa’s La Strega Malbec 2018 - Malbec is one of those grapes that people either love (“it’s so deep and beautiful!”) or hate (“It’s too dark and flavorful!”). I happen to love it. One of my favorite 100% Malbecs in the world was a wine I got when I worked at Joseph Phelps. This is the closest I’ve come to a Malbec that captures the absolute beauty of the grapes blended into Phelps’ Insignia. Anthony Nappa has shown his abilities in this wine and they’re truly spectacular.
#1: Macari 'Sette' Red Blend - The first winery I went to as a journalist was Macari. I went because I’d heard such great things about their wines, but admittedly, I was skeptical. I’d heard that their reds matched California wines and, having come from 3 years in Napa, I simply didn’t believe it possible. Wow, was I wrong! Macari’s wines span the breadth of flavors and many of them were immensely pleasant for my Napa-bred palate. Their Sette blend, which is 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc is one of my new favorites. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves the austere flavors of Cabernet Franc, tempered with some seriously juicy Merlot.