20 Long Island Red Wines Under $20: From The Sublime To 'Pizza Wine' - 27 East

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20 Long Island Red Wines Under $20: From The Sublime To ‘Pizza Wine’

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Long Island vineyards grow a wide range of deliciousness. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

Long Island vineyards grow a wide range of deliciousness. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

From left, the art featured on these Channing Daughters Heart Series labels is by: Sydney Albertini, Liz Joyce, Nico Yektai, Jeremy Rhodes Grosvenor, Jeremy Dennis COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

From left, the art featured on these Channing Daughters Heart Series labels is by: Sydney Albertini, Liz Joyce, Nico Yektai, Jeremy Rhodes Grosvenor, Jeremy Dennis COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

At 13.7 alcohol by volume, you may not recall what you loved about this wine in the glass. So be sure to get a second bottle! COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

At 13.7 alcohol by volume, you may not recall what you loved about this wine in the glass. So be sure to get a second bottle! COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

Just some of the bottles that were killed to make this article. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

Just some of the bottles that were killed to make this article. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

Long Island vineyards grow a wide range of deliciousness. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

Long Island vineyards grow a wide range of deliciousness. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM

authorStacy Dermont on Apr 27, 2022

Long Island wines are generally good, and many are quite inexpensive.

In addition to famed cellar-worthy reds like Bedell Cellars Musée ($125) and Wölffer Estate Vineyard Christian’s Cuvée Merlot ($100), many of the region’s wineries produce an inexpensive tier of everyday wines — reds, whites and rosés.

It makes sound business sense to offer the 1.3 million annual visitors to Long Island wineries a range of price points. Lieb Cellars in Cutchogue launched its Bridge Lane label in 2013 — available by the box, can and keg. This allows these vins ordinaires to be enjoyed on the beach, where glass bottles are banned. Rumor has it these wines have been found at parties inland as well.

The North Fork Project, also in Cutchogue, has a “singular goal: to bring high-quality and great tasting locally produced wines to your table,” according to its label. You can easily judge for yourself. Invite friends, the bottles are full liters, not the smaller, more standard 750 milliliters.

At Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, winemaker Christopher Tracy saw to it that his “Heart Series” — an exacting red blend that retails for $19.99 — sports original art by 12 area artists. So each case contains 12 uniquely beautiful bottles.

Many Long Island lower-priced “vins” incorporate grapes from other New York wine regions including the Finger Lakes and Lake Erie, so the labels read “New York State,” rather than “Long Island,” “North Fork” or “Hamptons.”

There are easily over 100 very drinkable Long Island-produced wines under $20. The ones listed below — 20 reds to bid farewell to the last of our cooler weather — present a range of widely available examples, from the sublime to “pizza wine.”

These inexpensive bottles were chosen for their food friendliness and general drinkability. A particularly good food match is provided, though each could be paired with a number of dishes.

Along with the grape varietals used, the ABV (alcohol by volume) will give the experienced wine drinker flavor and structure expectations. All were purchased from area wine shops. Prices vary — sometimes markedly so — if you instead buy directly from wineries.

1. Winery: Raphael

La Fontana 2014, $16.99

Most notable characteristics: The touch of dark fruit sweetness is perfectly balanced by deep tannins that build and reward. You’ll be thinking about this wine long after its graphite finish has ebbed away.

ABV 13.7 percent

Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot

18 months in French oak barrels.

Best paired with: Gorgonzola on water crackers

2. Channing Daughters Winery

Rosso Fresco, Red Table Wine 2019, $19.99

Don’t mistake these smooth tannins for sweetness, take another slow sip of this deliciously inky, plummy mélange.

ABV 12 percent

Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Dornfelder, Syrah

The blend’s varietals and their proportions change with each vintage.

Best paired with: Beef stew with chunks of potato and carrot; potatoes Anna

3. McCall Wines Corchaug Estate

Merlot 2014, $17.99

Cherry on the nose hints at the quaffability of this medium-bodied red that rewards its drinker with dark notes of tobacco and leather.

ABV 12.8 percent

Nine months in French oak barrels.

Best paired with: Filet mignon

4. Channing Daughters Winery

“Heart” Red Table Wine 2020, $19.99

Well balanced and inviting, this red blend, like so many of Channing Daughters’ wines, is intentionally surprising.

Merlot, Dornfelder, Refosco, Syrah, Petit Verdot

ABV 12 percent

Best paired with: Fresh ham

5. Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Classic Red Table Wine 2019, $19.99

This versatile red can stand up to some flavorful dishes. There is bold fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is in the highest percentage ever used in this annual blend — 55 percent.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot

ABV 13 percent

7 months in French oak

Best paired with: Dark chocolate

6. Bedell Cellars

First Crush Red 2020, $15.49

Refreshing, a red ready for summer fun and adventure.

Merlot, Cabernet Franc

ABV 11 percent

Best paired with: Grilled veggies, raw clams

7. Macari

Sette Red Table Wine, $19.99

Astringent berry on the nose, a highly drinkable blend — the Cabernet Franc and Merlot are engaged in a pleasant conversation.

ABV 12.9 percent

Half Cabernet Franc/half Merlot

Best paired with: Roast pheasant or quail

8. On A Bay Vineyards

Great Blue Heron Merlot 2017, $15.99

This berry-forward wine with a layered richness has tobacco notes, and one can sense the tannins of its Malbec.

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon

ABV 13.5 percent

Best paired with: Pork roast

9. On A Bay Vineyards

Cabernet Franc 2019, $18.99

Vanilla and raspberry notes are accompanied by a pleasant level of tannins that is noticeable, but not pronounced.

Cabernet Franc, Malbec

ABV 13.3 percent

Best paired with: sweetened ricotta on toast

10. Raphael

Estate Malbec 2018, $17.99

So dark its slate notes hint at charcoal.

ABV 12 percent

Best paired with: Steak (especially if you’re someone who dares to prefer yours well done.)

11. Shinn Estate

Estate Merlot, Red Table Wine 2016, $17.99

Heavy in a good way, with an undercurrent of elderberry flavor you can ride into the next party of a busy night.

ABV 13.8 percent

Best paired with: Milk chocolate cake

12. Paumanok Vineyards

Festival Red 2019, $16.99

Deep and dark, suggestive of a nighttime “festival,” perhaps between just two people. The hint of clove flavor on the finish feels like a nice touch.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

ABV 12.5 percent

Best paired with: Grilled lamb

13. Bedell Cellars

Merlot 2019, $16.99

A sedate, almost lulling iteration of Merlot.

ABV 12.5 percent

Best paired with: a great book

14. Osprey’s Dominion

Cabernet Franc 2014, $15.99

Muscle-y and tight, this is not a red to be messed about with.

ABV 13 percent

12 months in oak barrels

Best paired with: Flank steak

15. Lenz Winery

Merlot 2016, $19.99

Green bell pepper on the nose leads to a general herbaceousness.

ABV 12 percent

Best paired with: Cashew beef

16. Duck Walk Vineyards

Windmill Red; Red Table Wine, $9.99

One of the best wines Duck Walk produces, this dark red begins with a salty nose and finishes with some graphite. In between, you’ll find a little strawberry.

ABV 12.5 percent

Best paired with: Tapenade on toasts

17. Osprey’s Dominion

Richmond Creek Merlot 2014, $7.99 ($17 at the vineyard)

A respectable quaff, this Merlot’s drinkability is surprising to find at this price point in any wine region.

ABV 12 percent

Best paired with: Chicken Caesar salad

18. Pindar Vineyards

Pythagoras Red Table Wine, $18.99

Pine on the nose leads to some brininess. The blend is lighter than expected, quite tart, with a graphite finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec

ABV 12.5 percent

Best paired with: Sausage-stuffed mushrooms

19. Bridge Lane Wine

Red Blend 2020, $14.99

Defined by its incisive acidity, it’s a very dry, kicky, angular red.

ABV 12.9 percent

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah

Six months in Hungarian Oak barrels

Best paired with: a Big Mac

20. North Fork Project

Merlot 2015, $14.99

After your first sensation of striking sweetness, you’ll get caramel and vanilla notes. This wine is markedly improved by being opened and allowed to breathe, so be sure to open the bottle an hour before you intend to consume it.

ABV 13 percent

Best paired with: Garlic knots

Stacy Dermont is co-author, with Hillary Davis, of “The Hamptons Kitchen” (W.W. Norton & Co.), the cookbook and guide that features over 100 of Dermont’s regional wine pairings. For more information, visit stacydermont.com

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