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Jamesport Vineyards and SPAT - Shellfish and Chardonnay

Originally Posted: June 13, 2006

Lenn Thompson

On Sunday, July 9 at 1:00 p.m. Jamesport Vineyards, on Route 25 in Jamesport, will be holding a Wine & Oyster Tasting to benefit the Southold Project for Aquaculture Training (SPAT). Open to the public with no admission fee, the event will feature a variety of shellfish from Peconic Bay served with the wines of Jamesport Vineyards. Tickets must be purchased for the raw bar and wine tastings on site. 10% of all wine sales and 100% of donations at the will go directly to the SPAT program.

So what is SPAT, exactly? On one hand, it's the term for the tiniest form of shellfish that has settled where it will live out the rest of its life perhaps before ending up on your dinner plate. The SPAT program was created to encourage East End residents to become stewards of their environment and help revive the shellfish population in local waters.

A Cornell Cooperative Extension Program, SPAT teaches volunteers how to grow miniscule shellfish in containers, away from predators, until they reach adult size when they are released into local creeks and bays. These volunteers are offered monthly workshops and provided with shellfish seed and the necessary tools and supplies for growing their shellfish either on their own waterfront or in the SPAT community garden. In exchange for a minimal fee, all permits are secured and volunteers can harvest half of the shellfish for personal use while the other half is returned to the waters.

You may already grow your own vegetables, but SPAT gives you the opportunity to grown your own succulent, local shellfish. As Jamesport's winemaker, Les Howard, says "Perhaps one day the shellfish in our local waters will come back in the numbers there were 30 years ago."

To date, more than 400 people have taken part in this program and it continues to grow each year.

Jamesport Vineyards has helped to support the project with its East End Series of wines. Created in partnership with SPAT, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these wines is donated to the program.

Currently, there are three wines in the East End Series a merlot, a red blend and a chardonnay.

Jamesport Vineyards 2003 East End Series Merlot ($15) is a relatively light, gulpable wine that is for drinking, not contemplating. Its nose is straightforward with dark fruit (blackberries and plums) and oak aromas. On the palate, it has simple (and similar) fruit flavor accented by cedar, soft tannins and gentle acidity on a shortish finish. 2003 wasn't a great vintage on Long Island, overall, but Howard has created an easy-drinking, pizza-friendly red by blending merlot and cabernet sauvignon from varied vintages together. This isn't a wine to cellar and age drink it today.

A unique and interesting blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir and syrah, Jamesport Vineyards 2003 Cinq ($15) is another every day drinking wine. Layered scents of black cherries, figs, smoky oak, black tea and herbs mingle on the nose. A light but silky, velvety mouthfeel delivers cherry-dominated flavors accented by toasty character and nice acidity. I'm not usually one to recommend red wine with fish, but this wine seems ideally suited to heftier fish like salmon or swordfish.

Along with Jamesport Vineyards' delicious Sauvignon Blanc, I expect that they'll sell a lot of their 2004 East End Chardonnay ($13). This is a crisp, decidedly refreshing and appetite-whetting wine. Its nose presents ripe peach with wisps of vanilla, but also hints at richer, more tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. Comparable flavors follow through onto the palate and are framed by a palate-cleansing zing of acidity and accented by a minerally finish. Not an overly complex wine, this chardonnay it serves its purpose. It's delicious with local fish and shellfish. It's hard not to love this wine.

And, for all of the designated drivers out there, Jamesport Vineyards offers verjus unfermented wine grape juice. Kids love it too, and Jamesport Vineyards is one of the most family-friendly wineries on the North Fork.

For more event information call 8520-8660 or 722-5256, and to learn more about SPAT, call 852-8660 extension 55.