Long Island By the Bottle: Wölffer Estate 2018 Antonov Sauvignon Blanc

Photo by Lenn Thompson

Welcome to Long Island by the Bottle. Every week, we’ll showcase a wine that we’re enjoying and think you’ll dig too—with some of the story behind the wine and food pairing suggestions, too. 

One of the most exciting things about Long Island wine is the ongoing experimentation on the part of grape growers and winemakers. Growers are planted or are planting new varieties every spring—things beyond Merlot, Chardonnay and the like. The current trend seems to be more Albarino, which has already shown what it can become here, as well as Italian varieties.

Winemakers are also exploring which more-established grapes can be in our terroir though different fermentation vessels and varied other techniques.

Wolffer Estate winemaker Roman Roth is doing just that with the release of the first-ever white horse label sauvignon blanc—Wolffer Estate 2018 “Antonov” Sauvignon Blanc ($30).

Fresh, steel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc has long been at home in local cellars and glasses. It’s a must given the bounty of our local waters. But Roth wanted to expand what we think of when we think of Long Island sauvignon.

“My idea was to make a Sauvignon Blanc as if it were made by a traditional Burgundy producer in a Grand Cru style,” he says, adding, “if they would be allowed to grow Sauvignon Blanc in Burgundy.”

His goal was a Sauvignon Blanc “with character, balance—rich but elegant—great texture and of course great longevity is another objective.”

“We are trying to make a very special Sauvignon Blanc worthy of our Wolffer White Horse labels in a style and intensity level that has not been done before on the east coast,” he says.

Antonov was made from a single block of sauvignon blanc that showed, even in 2018, “a perfect combination of our ripest Sauvignon Blanc but also with great pH and nice acidity.”

A cool, slow fermentation was followed by extended lees contact. It’s that contact with the spent yeast cells that gives this wine its creamy mouthfeel while still being fresh with ripe fruit character. Personally, I’m curious to see where Roth takes this new label in coming years.

As for food pairing, Roth says, “I would recommend crab cakes, risotto, mushroom dishes, veal with a nice reduction sauce.” I had it with a simple roast chicken, which really let the wine be the star of the meal.