Pellegrini is a quiet house. They don’t do fancy wines, in that, they aren’t doing, the hippest, hottest thing. They don’t scream for attention from the press. They go on about their business. They are “the other guys” of Long Island wine.
Pellegrini’s 30 acre home vineyard was founded in 1982 and is home to some of the oldest vines on Long Island. Two additional properties approximately 5 miles east of Pellegrini Vineyards were purchased in 1998. These ideal parcels for vineyards have given Pellegrini the opportunity to plant more cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. These properties have enabled Pellegrini to Estate Bottle all of their reds and their dessert wine "Finale".
General Manager is Tom Drodz, recently described by another Long Island vintner as “one of the really good guys.” Tom is Long Island born and bred. His family’s old farm is now a competing winery. Tom was a long time member of the Palmer Vineyards team, who came over three or four years ago. He’s a veteran wine guy. He knows how to make things run.
The renowned Russell Hearn, of Premium Wine Group, makes all the wine at Pellegrini. They are not a client. He is their winemaker. He began his career as an apprentice at the age of 16, in his homeland of Australia. He is a dedicated, studious, hands-on winemaker, and has been with Pellegrini Vineyards since its establishment in 1991. He has made tremendous wines at Pellegrini. Hearn is a story in and of himself. For a man who makes as much wine as he does, Hearn’s wines at Pellegrini are subtle, soft, and very, very drinkable….and collectible. The older the wines from Pellegrini get, the better they become. These wines are extraordinary.
A state of the art membrane press cleanly extracts high quality juice low in solids. Six unique removable top red grape fermenters with a stainless punch down system (the first on Long Island and one of very few in the U.S.A.) extract deep color and soft tannins gently, avoiding typical levels of bitterness and astringency. At Pellegrini Vineyards they believe a soundly made wine requires minimal manipulation in the cellar. Many of their red wines are unfiltered, and are better off for it.
Recently, I tried a bottle of their Petite Verdot. Single bottlings of Petite Verdot are hard to come by, especially in Long Island. Petite Verdot, due to it’s deep, deep color, and depth of flavor, is usually a blending grape, adding character to Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. However, this bottle was 97% Petite Verdot and only 3% Merlot. This is an herbal wine, rustic, with big, edgy flavors. The color is a deep purplish-red. The flavor is a like a big jam, with lots of dark fruit, like stewed prunes, plums, blackberry, with a touch of bramble thrown in. It has lots of fruit up front, but also a hint of vanilla which rounds out the taste. This is an exquisite wine. This is something you could drink now, or save for five or six more years at least. An absolutely tremendous wine, it’s crying out for some charring - for grilled Portobello Mushrooms, grilled Lamb or Pork Chops. A nice aged Parmesean wouldn’t be bad either, or a spicy Penne Arrabbiata.