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Champagne for the Hamptons

By Amy Zavatto | March 28, 2017 | Food & Drink

The seasonal sips of choice are locally produced sparkling wines.

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“People usually don’t realize that there’s a whole world in those bubbles that they haven’t discovered yet,” says winemaker Gilles Martin.

This New Year’s Eve, don’t just lift your Champagne fute in
the air and sip like you just don’t care. Long Island is producing
some of the best sparkling wines this side of 2016. “When I frst arrived
on Long Island 18 years ago, I didn’t know if the area would
be suited for sparkling or not, but I realized quickly I was able
to get the elements that I needed to create those quality cuvées
that can age,” says Gilles Martin, the talented winemaker behind
Sparkling Pointe, Long Island’s only all-bubbly wine producer.

As a man born on the perimeter of the world’s most famed sparkling-producing
region, Champagne, Martin ought to know. “[Our]
cuvées are aged four to eight years, bringing a lot of complexity that
you just don’t have with the easy-drinking Proseccos or low-end
sparklings,” he says. “People usually don’t realize that there’s a
whole world in those bubbles that they haven’t discovered yet.”

Martin is not alone in his passion for secondary fermentation,
although he is the only producer on Long Island with a solo-focus
on it. Of note, winemaker Eric Fry of Lenz Winery crafts his outstanding,
age-worthy vintage, Lenz Cuvée, which he holds back
indefnitely until he believes it’s ready for the world at large (the
current release is the 2011, and it’s 100 percent Pinot Noir). Newcomer
Regan Meador shepherded an abandoned, undisgorged
sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Peconic Bay
into lovely fruition before the winery shuttered, dubbing the
creation La Belle-Fille. He chose not to sweeten the lot with
added dosage to allow its toasty, crisp nature to fully express
itself. He also made a pétillant naturel–style of sparkling called
Weather to Fly, which it did, right off the shelves, until it sold out.

Sparkling Pointe is currently offering a bevy of beautiful
bubblies: Its foral NV 2012 Brut (most of the fruit is 2012 but
some is plucked from the reserve stock of other vintages, thus
the NV status), the biscuit-y 2010 Blanc de Blancs, the 2006 Brut
Seduction, an absolute stunner, and the 2013 Brut Carnaval
rouge. (Also, by the time you’re reading this, the Carnaval blanc
should be back on shelves, too.)

And what about the Topaz Impérial rosé? It’s for wine-club
members only, but you can get a glass by popping into a seat at
Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill (104 Third St., Greenport, 477-6888) or Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan. Doing
that would delight Martin, indeed. “I think that, frst of all, sparkling
is a really challenging, technical wine, because you have to be very
aware of all the parameters that you have to follow,” he says. “But
at the same time, it’s a work of art.” Sparkling Pointe, 39750 County
Road 48, Southold, 765-0200. The Lenz
Winery, 38355 Main Road, Peconic, 734-6010



Photography by: photography by Jamie grill/tetra images/Corbis