With more than 50 wineries and vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. If you’re looking for something more intimate, try Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.
Named for owners Mark and Christine Tobin’s children, Matthew and Isabella, Mattebella Vineyards is a small-scale vineyard with a lot of charm. Tucked away behind an old farmhouse just off Route 25, this little vineyard is easy to miss, and that’s the way they like it. The 22-acre farm, consisting of mostly European varietal clones, is tended to by hand, affirming their commitment to sustainable growth and farming. Their wines, which they produce at the nearby Lenz Winery, are made to age.
Their tasting room is a 200-square-foot model of rustic-chic situated at the back of a large garden patio area. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was there was no bar, but rather a wooden table surrounded by white leather couches and cowhide chairs. Elton John and Steely Dan B-sides played softly throughout, accentuating the ambiance.
Their small size and eclectic atmosphere aren’t the only things that sets Mattebella apart from other North Fork vineyards—it’s also their focus on vintages, rather than varieties. Mattebella only produces three types of wine—chardonnays, rosés and red blends, each in the Burgundy style—but they offer several vintages of each, ranging from 2007 to 2011. They feel that it’s the only way to show how wines come into their own, based on the year they were grown. Their tasting menu consists of two flights—a white flight and a red flight, but they also sell wine by the glass and bottle.
I began my tasting with the 2009 Famiglia Chardonnay. This crisp white featured notes of pear, peach and melon on the nose, and a bright acidic finish with a hint of vanilla and oak.
Next up: the 2011 Famiglia Chardonnay, which is the lightest that Mattebella makes. This chardonnay was brighter and more crisp than the 2009, with notes of lemon and sour apple.
Following the 2011 were two 2010s. The first, the 2010 Famiglia Chardonnay, was soft and bright with notes of pear and apple on the nose, and a finish of light citrus with just a hint of oak. The second, the 2010 Reserve Chardonnay, was quite different. This was fermented in half-oak and half-stainless steel, giving it a light golden color with floral notes on the nose and apple, pear and honey, with a bright finish.
Between the whites and the reds, I tasted the 2011 Rosé. This delightful pink wine is a blend of 90 percent merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc, giving it subtle notes of cherry and wild strawberry.
All of their reds are blends. The first was the Famiglia Red, which is a non-vintage blend of merlot and Cabernet Franc. This deep red is full of dark flavors of oak, leather and tobacco.
The second red I tasted was the 2008 Famiglia Old World Blend, which is the lightest of the vintage reds. This blend of merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc was very aromatic, with notes of dark cherry and blackberry on the nose, and hints of plum, dark chocolate and tobacco on the palate. It was served with a piece of bread topped with balsamic fig jam and double cream brie, that intensified the wine’s flavors.
After the 2008, I tasted the 2009 Famiglia Old World Blend, which is Mattebella’s youngest. This red is a blend of merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that was aged in French Oak. This wine had a soft, silky texture on the palate with flavors of plum and blackberry.
The final wine on my tasting was the 2007 Old World Blend. This blend of merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot features notes of blueberry and blackberry on the nose, dark fruit flavors on the palate, and a smooth, spicy finish.
Mattebella Vineyards is at 46005 Route 25, Southold. For more information visit mattebella.com or call 631-655-9554.