Arbor is replacing Ciao in Montauk.
Montauk can now lay claim to its first proprietary rosé, the Montauk Summer Rosé, a delicate pink wine that harnesses what we think about when we think about the East End. The brainchild of Anneris and Mark Blair—Montauk year-rounders for the past three years now—the wine is a welcome addition to the South Fork, where the impulse to drink pink has only grown in recent years. I sought out the Blairs, who have partnered with Mike Carolan, owner of Montauk’s The Finest Kind, to produce their wine, for a chat about all things rosé. The vision began in Montauk a year ago. The Blairs wanted to make a wine that transported them to Southern France, where rosé is as comfortably consumed as water. On a foggy afternoon, I drove out to Montauk, where I, too, once lived in the summers. The Blairs and I sat outside at the Crow’s Nest, the quintessential Montauk restaurant, with its sweeping views of Lake Montauk and some of the finest sunsets this side of the Shinnecock Canal. Under a pergola, canopied by Edison bulbs and leaning summer grasses, we talked about wine, and about Montauk, which has become, more and more, the place where people flock to drink pink things on sparkly summer evenings.
The blend, Montauk Summer, is a nod to French tradition: mostly Syrah, with a little Pinot Noir and Malbec for good measure. “I wanted to make it in Long Island and have it local and authentic,” Mark told me. “We were confident that this was a good wine.” Montauk Summer sources its fruit from the North Fork, where Premium Wine Group handles production and distribution. This year, they produced an inaugural 800 cases, half of which have already been placed in retail and restaurant locations. In addition to the Crow’s Nest, the wine is also available on the South Fork at Park Place Wines & Liquor, Domaine Franey, The Finest Kind, White’s Liquor Store, Herbert & Rist, BottleHampton, Arbor, South Edison, Navy Beach, Harvest on Fort Pond, The Maidstone, Inlet Seafood Restaurant, The Montauk Beach House and Dave’s Gone Fishing. The Blairs hope to increase production in the coming vintage and extend distribution to the North Fork, as well as to Southern Florida and Southern California. The wine is currently distributed, sparingly, in New York City.
The wine is—as quaffable rosé should be—teeming with strawberries and melon. It sees no oak and is a refreshing, dry style of wine, the kind one imagines drinking before, with, and after dinner. In essence, the Blairs made the type of wine they prefer to drink.
Black and white bottle artwork comes from renowned photographer Michael Dweck, who published a book of Montauk-related photos in 2002 called “The End.” (The book was reissued last year.) On the bottle’s front, a couple holds surfboards and head into the ocean. Could there be a more Montaukan image? “We were looking for a fun label that was Montauk-centric,” Mark said. The bottle is a vision in Hamptons pink: a slim, Riesling style, with a long neck, white metal Stelvin cap, and onionskin wine.
There’s no grand tale here, no winery to visit, no consulting winemaker with a storied reputation. The wine arrives neatly packaged with the blessing of its owners and a note to its drinkers: “This bottle of summer water is made with grapes from the North Fork of Long Island. Plus, the bottle has Montauk surfers on the front so your friends will think you’re beachy and much cooler than they thought.” If coolness is a Montauk ethos, the Blairs approach it tongue-in-cheek: Here’s your summer water; drink it, and be merry, surf skills notwithstanding.
In the end, the owners of Montauk Summer made what they like and drink what they made. Anneris is a Montauk denizen who looks particularly of the place, with stacked bangles, a single rose gold pendant, and delicate ombré ringlets. She’s from the Dominican Republic, but has lived in New York for more than a decade now.
“The Dominican Republic is my country,” Anneris said. “This is my home.” The wine is a lovely homage to Anneris’s adopted home, too, a pretty little wine with a pretty little package that drinkers can enjoy for under $25 (the wine retails for $18 to $21 at select retailers). Drink up: Summer’s here only until it’s gone.
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One fine body…