Harvest season has begun anew on the East End with some early picks happening this week and more coming next week and beyond. The growers I’ve spoken to have been happy with the 2019 season, but they all know that it’s too early to make any proclamations about the vintage. All it takes is a stray tropical storm coming up the coast or even just a series of poorly timed rainy days to change things.
2018 wasn’t a great vintage by any estimation. Ripeness lagged almost across the board, so you won’t find as many rich, deeply flavored wines. Vintage variation is a reality here and it’s what makes Long Island wine fun as a consumer. That’s East Coast wine.
But I’m still finding a lot of appealing 2018 whites and roses, including this Jamesport Vineyards 2018 Estate Sauvignon Blanc.
“[I] still stuck to what I believe makes good wine,” said Jamesport winemaker Dean Babiar, when I asked him how he approached the challenging season. “The winemaking was low intervention like always. Meaning no exogenous enzymes, SO2 at crush, chaptalization, or any other funny business. It’s leaner than other years sure but it’s reflective of the vintage—as wines should be.”
To help bring a bit more depth in this lean year, a portion of the final wine was barrel fermented, which gives the wine additional mouthfeel and weight.
“All the barrel fermented whites at Jamesport are done using native yeast. We sometimes release a ‘reserve’ wild-fermented sauvignon blanc called Sauvage,” Babiar said in an email. “However decided not to bottle this in 2018 so the barrels made the Estate Sauvignon Blanc blend and helped give more complexity in a year we needed it.”
The barrel-fermented portion doesn’t stand out or draw attention to itself. It’s well-integrated and almost lurks in the background. You’ll still find the fresh, citrusy and floral qualities that make Long Island Sauvignon so delicious.
Babiar was fairly traditional with his suggested food pairing for this wine. Sort of. “Shellfish is the classic pairing,” he said. “’I’ve always thought they tasted best together first thing in the morning.”