Sparkling Pointe: Long Island’s Destination for Those Seeking Bubbly Bliss

By Bob Johnson

Part 4 of a 5-Part Series

Some of the best California sparkling wines I’ve ever tasted were made during the mid-1990s at Roederer Estate, located in the bucolic Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. That makes perfect sense considering that Anderson Valley is known for its world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — the two primary varietals used to craft world-class sparkling wine.

During that timeframe, the assistant winemaker at Roederer was Giles Martin, a native of France. Today, Martin makes wine for Sparkling Pointe, the lone estate in Long Island wine country — in the entire state of New York, for that matter — devoted exclusively to sparkling wine.

And what an estate it is, designed in the style of a French country manor, with walls adorned by bright, colorful paintings that proprietors Cynthia and Tom Rosicki have brought back from frequent trips to the annual Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro.

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As this picture illustrates, the interior somehow manages to meld sophistication and fun, not always an easy undertaking. On the one hand, you have white walls, modern furniture, a high ceiling and glistening chandeliers. On the other, you have the bright colors of the Brazilian paintings. Perhaps the best word to describe the ambience is festive.

That’s not a bad word for the wines, either — particularly the “Cuvee Carnaval,” a wine that demonstrates how good a semi-sweet sparkler can be, if given half a chance… and half the sugar.

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Wholesale Manager Leonardo Manno led us through a tasting of four wines, and I’d say the “Cuvee Carnaval” was the most distinctive. And there’s a reason for that beyond its sweetness.

According to Manno, the wine is made mostly from the usual suspects: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A small amount of “Reserve” wine also is included in the blend. But none of that explains the intriguing spice note in the wine’s nose.

“That comes from the Gewurztraminer,” Manno says.

Gewurztraminer? In an otherwise “traditional” sparkling wine? Could that have had anything to do with winemaker Martin’s tenure at Roederer Estate? After all, the Anderson Valley also is a hub of traditional Alsatian varieties, including Gewurztraminer.

Unfortunately, Manno did not know, and Martin wasn’t there on the day of our visit. But if I were a betting man…

At the other end of the spectrum, in terms of both style (dry, as opposed to semi-sweet) and price ($60, as opposed to $27), is Sparkling Pointe’s “Brut Seduction.”

This 51/49 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (no Gewurztraminer) bubbles with class and sophistication.

“All of the fruit was hand harvested to control the quality,” Manno explains. “Only free-run juice was used [the practice for all Sparkling Pointe bottlings]. The wine spent nine years on the lees.”

In other words, Sparkling Pointe pulls out all the stops when making this wine. Or as Frenchman Martin might put it, “Brut Seduction” is Sparkling Pointe’s “tete de cuvee” — the best of the best. It’s poured by the glass at New York’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, Manno says.

In the middle of that rather wide spectrum are a non-vintage Brut with a fine, persistent mousse, and a 2007 Blanc de Blancs, which pours with a frothy head. Both are well made, perfectly balanced and refreshing.

If you’re a fan of sparkling wine, Sparkling Pointe is a must stop on your Long Island wine country expedition. A few other wineries on the island dabble in bubbly; Sparkling Pointe specializes in it.

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Here are our reviews of the four Sparkling Pointe wines tasted:

NV Sparkling Pointe Brut, North Fork of Long Island

2007 Sparkling Pointe Blanc de Blancs, North Fork of Long Island

2003 Sparkling Pointe ‘Brut Seduction,’ North Point of Long Island

NV Sparkling Pointe ‘Cuvee Carnaval,’ North Fork of Long Island

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