The expansive grounds of Duck Walk Vineyards, joining over 40 vineyards for the ultimate toast to summer at Dan’s Harvest East End on August 22 at McCall Vineyard in Cutchogue, surround an ornate tasting room and patio—and an equally attractive wine list.
Boasting live music on Saturday afternoons and a veritable treasure trove of wine, food and even draft beer from the Southampton Publick House, Duck Walk has everything the discriminating drinker could ask for. Tasting room manager Pam Przepiora gave me the grand tour—a total of 18 wines are currently available at the vineyards, though several more favorites are available seasonally.
I started off with the ’12 Reserve Chardonnay, which proved to be smooth and buttery—a perfect relaxation wine. Its newer counterpart, the standard Duck Walk Chardonnay, proved to be crisp and clean, with distinct notes of apple and pear. The Pinot Grigio shared this fruitiness: it was remarkably flavorful for the style, with a dryish finish and an overarching lemon zest.
My personal favorite, the ’13 Sauvignon Blanc, was refreshing, crisp and featured a distinctive melon aroma and a hard grapefruit finish. I can’t overstate the grapefruit flavor enough—if you’re a fan, this is the drink for you. This sauvignon was accompanied by an oak-aged doppelganger: the White Meritage Sauvignon Blanc is heavy, balanced and noticeably high in alcohol content. Next, the Southampton White (estate grown and made from Cayuga White grapes native to New York State) struck a rich counterbalance to my previous samples.
Duck Walk’s Windmill series is a three-pronged assault on anyone who claims not to enjoy wine: named for the Windmill at Water Mill, these three wines each offer their own unique and exciting tastes. The Windmill White is semi-sweet, and makes an excellent base for sangria. Windmill Blush introduces itself with a lingering sweetness, then ends on a dry note that leaves the drinker craving another glass. Finally, Windmill Red is a strong-scented, strong-flavored offering with conspicuous notes of currant.
Moving towards reds, the Duck Walk Pinot Noir was light, as pinot noirs often are, but surprisingly dry, dominating the palate with a smoky raspberry character. The Malbec, a decidedly non-sweet, musty plum affair, has an interesting backstory—its grapes were originally used in conjunction with others between 2003 and 2006 for Duck Walk’s Red Meritage blend, and in 2010 were finally used to make a wine all their own. Duck Walk’s Merlot is an earthy, peppery drink, complemented by the darker and heavier Reserve Merlot. Fruit is added after fermentation in order to imbue it with richness.
On the dessert wine front, currently three wines grace Duck Walk’s list, each filling a different niche. Aphrodite is a sweet, peachy wine that goes well with almost any dessert you can name (I tried it alongside pineapple slices dusted with bleu cheese crumbles—a combination which I was initially skeptical of, but proved to be well worth the risk). Gatsby Red is a semi-sweet red with a muted sugary tone and a spicy finish, served chilled and suggested as a delightful base for red sangria. Finally, I sampled Duck Walk’s popular Blueberry Port. The heavy blueberry flavor (derived from wild Maine berries) is unmistakable here, and its sweetness makes it perfect as a companion to anything chocolate-flavored. I sipped it in between bites of chocolate, which the winery keeps around solely for this purpose.
The tasting room itself (located just west of the Parrish Art Museum) is immaculate, spacious and features a long L-shaped bar and innumerable racks of bottled wine available for purchase. As no outside food is allowed, Duck Walk also sells snack foods. If you’re in the Water Mill area this summer, stop by for a wine flight—your taste buds will thank you.
Duck Walk Vineyards, 231 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. duckwalk.com, 631-726-7555. Also in Southold at 44535 Main Road, 631-765-3500.