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Garden City restaurants become an epicenter for local wine

Glasses of red, white and brut rose wine

Glasses of red, white and brut rose wine on the bar of Small Batch in Garden City. Credit: Daniel Brennan

When Small Batch opened at the Roosevelt Field mall in December, it caused a stir, marking chef Tom Colicchio’s Nassau County debut. Wine-loving people might take note, too: Small Batch’s progressive list melds a sense of adventure with an eye for value, as well as holds an esteemed place for local wine.

Small Batch pours four Long Island wines by the glass — a white, a red, a rose and a sparkling — and a handful by the bottle on a list where few bottles ring in above $100. “We’re very passionate to present things that are local,” in both wine and food, said Natalie Grindstaff, director of beverage programs for Crafted Hospitality (the umbrella Colicchio organization). “We wanted to give Long Island wines a chance. Our markup is pretty gentle.”

By-the-glass choices include Friulano, an Italian white grape, from Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, and a sparkling blanc de blancs from Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue. “These are the kind of things I would drink when I go out to dinner. They are world-class wines,” Grindstaff said.

A few miles away at Perennial, the year-old Garden City restaurant where chef-owner Peter Mistretta  showcases local produce, Long Island wines had a central role on the opening wine list; the restaurant has since scaled back, but Perennial still offers a half-dozen local bottles. “We got some push back, because some people have negative associations,” of Long Island wine, said Mistretta, perhaps born of long-ago experiences.

Perennial strikes a balance between “things people are familiar with and things we’re passionate about and want to introduce them to.” That might include steering someone away from an oaky California chardonnay to drink with their local shellfish and toward a North Fork version, such as the Onabay Vineyards “Yellow Crown” Chardonnay. “It drinks like a Chablis. We try to explain we don’t carry any [California chard] because it happens to be a grape that grows really well on Long Island.”

As at Small Batch, local wines received a modest markup. “These wines are showcasing the versatility of Long Island’s soil,” Mistretta said.

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