The Want List: Five North Fork Wines to Sip Now

Whether a white, a red, or a rosé instead, bring home one of these sippable, locally-sourced souvenirs for a taste of endless summer.

We’re proud to drink local because we are local, but there’s even more to it than that: The North Fork’s first vineyard was planted in 1973, the very year Corcoran was founded. Since those earliest roots took hold in an old Cutchogue potato field, East End winemakers have mastered nectars of the vine from just about every grape varietal they can grow, perfecting their techniques to make the most of the region’s unique maritime terroir.
Rack up these bottles to uncork some big summer energy by the glass at any time of year.

Bedell Cellars | 2020 Viognier

Sometimes Sauvignon Blanc feels basic, and a blushing glass of ye olde Hamptons juice isn’t your vibe. You’re not in the Chardonnay mood, either, so what do you do? If Viognier is the white alternative, you won’t find one better than Bedell’s. This breezy little wine hits the palate with peach, floral, and citrus-botanical undertones. It’s light enough to sip at any time of day, whether you’re kicking back on the chaise in swim trunks or knocking back a dozen oysters in your linen Sunday best. Better yet, it’s made from sustainably-harvested grapes off some of the area’s oldest vines, which benefit from the longest warm season of any wine-growing region in the Northeast.

Jamesport Vineyards | 2019 Saddleback Reserve Chardonnay

Upward-nosed oenophiles might tell you the only good Long Island “chard” comes from a farm stand. While it’s true that North Fork produce is indeed exceptional, our local takes on the world’s most popular white wine do tend to taste different, and it’s unfair comparing them to their Californian counterparts. East End Chardonnays are fruitier, mineral-forward, and largely steel-fermented, giving them a (rightfully) different profile than the hot-buttered Chardonnay crowd might be used to. Jamesport’s Saddleback Reserve, however, is a rare exception. Aged for 10 months on French oak, it takes only grapes from the vineyard’s highest ridge, inviting a bodied yield with rich, woody notes of vanilla. It’s a unicorn even Russian River-drinkers will enjoy.

Croteaux Vineyards | 181 Merlot Rosé 2021

Rosés are to Long Island wine what hazy IPAs are to Brooklyn beer—and while you’ll consistently find the former at just about every East End vineyard, they’re hardly all created equal. At Southold’s Croteaux Vineyards, it’s rosé all day—every day. They’re the only all-rosé winery in America, and as you’d suspect, they’ve got the art down to a science. Their 2021 vintage of 181 Merlot rosé is an instant classic: dry and elegantly simple, with hints of lemon-lime on the nose. It’s a refreshing summer sip with a beautiful bottle to match. You won’t find them too far from the vines and their annual releases consistently sell out by the first orange leaf, so don’t sleep on the beach—get over and grab yours now.

Kontokosta Winery | 2016 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Sometimes you want a light, refreshing white blend on the bluffs over Long Island Sound, which Kontokosta—at the edge of Greenport—most certainly delivers on. Other times you want a peppery, full-bodied cab with your surf and turf on a brisk late-August night when you forgot to fill the lobster pot until 8pm, because what day is it and does time out east even matter? Kontokosta’s 2016 Cab Franc Reserve boldly checks the latter box. This liquid velvet is complex yet smooth, with a veil of caramelized fruit over earthy kicks of smoke and leather. It’s composed of 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, grown on the waterfront winery’s cliffside vineyards. It’s light enough to drink now, and robust enough to save for winter.

RGNY | Sparkling Rosé

For certain occasions, bubbles have no substitute. RGNY is a relatively new label on the North Fork, but its owners are anything but new to winemaking: The “RG” stands for Rivero González, a wildly successful family-owned winery in Mexico’s Valle de Parras region with tasting rooms in the city centers of CDMX and Monterrey. In 2018, they purchased the former Martha Clara vineyards in Mattituck and quickly got to fermenting some of the region’s best vino. Their rosé sparkler blends the fruitiness of Merlot with the sweetness of Gewürztraminer, the zest of Sauvignon Blanc, and the dry minerality of Chardonnay. Beyond packing delightful flavor, its dark, rosy hue makes it an exceptionally attractive pour.

Plant your roots “out east.”

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