As the temperatures finally reach sun-bathing levels on the East End, it’s time to kick back and relax with a glass—or bottle—of local cabernet. Luckily, Dan’s Best of the Best provides a list of the best cabernet producers on the island, as voted by our readers.
The North Fork is home to numerous vineyards, including the second-oldest vineyard on Long Island—Lenz (38355 Main Road, 631-734-6010). Established in 1978 in Peconic, the relatively small winery has nearly 70 acres of grapes, but it’s their cabernets that were voted one of the top on the island. Lenz’s 2007 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was the product of an exceptionally good year. It is lush smooth, tangy, rich and creamy all at once. Lenz’s 2011 Estate Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is also a crowd-pleaser.
Another popular pour is the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Raphael Vineyards (39390 Main Road, 631-765-1100). The winery in Peconic is built 12 feet underground allowing for the wines to be made using the “gentle gravity-flow method,” in which wine production streams naturally downward through the process without the aid of mechanical force. The 2013 Cabernet was voted a must-have for its rich, full body with complex notes of garden herbs.
Rounding out the Dan’s Best of the Best Cabernets is Lieb Cellars in Cutchogue (13050 Oregon Road, 631-734-1100). The grapes grow on four vineyard sites totaling 85 acres, and the grapes planted for their Cabernet Franc were planted in 1981. The two vintages of Cabernet Francs from Lieb are distinctly different in their characteristics. The 2010 Reserve is peppery with notes of violets, raspberry and sweet tobacco, but still retains a peppery finish. The 2013 Reserve is smoother, with notes of cherry and plum.