Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anthony Nappa Wines - The Light Touch of a Master Chef (NY)

In April when I had the pleasure to ride around the North Fork on an absolutely gorgeous spring day, when the greens were still bright, and the sky was blue, and a fresh ocean breeze was flowing through my golden locks....sorry, day dreaming...anyway, I remember it idyllically because one of my favorite stops was the Wine Makers Studio. And of course some of the featured wines were those of Anthony Nappa.

Anthony Nappa Wines was established in 2007 by Winemaker Anthony Nappa and Chef Sarah Evans Nappa with the production of 200 cases of Long Island Pinot Noir. While the wine list has grow appreciably, their aim has not been diverted....they focus on small, high quality production. An the wines are generally exquisite. I am a big fan. Anthony has a light touch, and is truly one of those winemakers who lets the fruit come through....especially on his whites and rose's.

Anthony Nappa studied botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and completed a degree in ‘Fruit and Vegetable Agriculture’ from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Anthony went to New Zealand to receive his formal training in winemaking from Lincoln University in Christchurch where he received degrees in Viticulture and Oenology. Anthony has extensive experience particularly in cool climate farming and winemaking. He has worked as a winemaker in New Zealand, Southern Italy, California, Massachusetts and New York where he was Head Winemaker for Shinn Estate Vineyards from 2007 - 2011. Anthony joined the winemaking community on the east end of Long Island in 2007, in the same year establishing his own wine brand Anthony Nappa Wines with the production of 200 cases of Long Island Pinot Noir, aptly named Nemesis.

Sarah Evans Nappa studied Animal Science at Colorado State University; during that time Sarah spent a year abroad at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she met Anthony. After college, Sarah taught English in Italy, Greece, Peru, and Korea and traveling everywhere in between. After 6 long years, the two reconnected and the rest is history. Upon moving to New York she began to pursue her longtime interest in the culinary arts. After working in several well-known New York City restaurants she continued her education at the International Culinary Center (formerly FCI) in the Italian Culinary Arts Program, which brought her back to her beloved Italy. Studying outside of Parma and then externing on Sardinia, Sarah honed her culinary skills in cooking seasonally and locally. Sarah previously worked at the North Fork Table & Inn as Sous Chef. Now she is available for hire as a private chef for small events and dinner parties.

I think it is ironic that a winemaker and a chef could possibly be together. A winemaker is a chef of sorts...and in one house there can only be one chef. As handsome a couple as they are, I find it hard to imagine a dinner where someone doesn't have an opinion on the wine or the seasoning. LOL! But that's what makes the world go round....

It was an absolutely stunning day when I walked into the tasting room and was greeted cheerfully by the very attractive Sarah. The room was busy, so I could not be doted on, but she was pleasant and friendly and chatty with all the patrons. I had the chance to taste two wines...

Anomoly - This is a white 100% Pinot Noir obviously made from red grapes. This was a quirky a decision as I can understand. My heart sank when I thought anyone would waste Pinot Noir in such a way....But I have to admit, as soon as I tasted it, I was won over. The color is a super light salmon-y color, more towards white wine than rose'. This stainless steel white was full of exotic aromas on the nose, strawberries and sour cherries came across on the nose. And again strawberries and bright sour cherries also came across the palate. Bu there was a tremendous refreshing burst of acidity at the end leaves the palate clean and wanting more. Fantastic!

Luminous is a Riesling made from small quantities of fruit sourced from vineyards in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Honeysuckle and citrus blossoms come through as promised. And on the palate there's tropical fruits and bright, apple. There's also a delicateness to the wine, with a hint of sweetness, like you were biting into that fresh apple, sort of like a Macintosh, maybe not so sweet, but with that acidity you love about a Macintosh. The flavor swirled around your mouth, it was remarkable. But like the wine before it, with a great burst it was gone! However, the fruit, not the sweetness, stayed with you for a good 60 seconds or more after each sip. And it was very refreshing. A fantastic wine. This is an exceptional Riesling! This is really exquisite winemaking.

And so it occurred to me, that maybe one good chef influences another. Maybe philosophically its possible. Because Nappa treats his wines like a great chef treats farm fresh produce - he features it, he showcases it. Like biting into a fresh peach or apple, he slices and prepares, but he doesn't over season or over cook it. He presents it. An that's the real trick of being a great chef...and a wonderful winemaker.

Congrats to Anthony and Sarah!