is preparing to launch a new high-end wine — and an entry-level one, too.
The Cutchogue winery plans to release later this month its 2007 Peconic Bay Winery Black Label, a Bordeaux-style blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.
The new prestige wine will retail for $48 a bottle and will be sold in a custom wood box of three broad-shouldered Bordeaux-style bottles. The bottle design is based on a style used in the 1930s, said the winery's general manager, James Silver. Only 2,500 bottles, each 750 ml, were produced.
The wine is the result of more than 70 trial blends of wines from several barrels selected by Silver and winemaker Greg Gove, Silver said. Black Label won't be made in every vintage, however. The next vintage of Peconic Bay Winery Black Label will be from the recently harvested 2010 crop, he said.
In launching the new high-end wine, Peconic Bay Winery is following the lead of other East End producers that in recent years have marketed prestige reds, some of them with prices that might seem in the stratosphere. Among them are Christian's Cuvée (formerly Premier Cru), which retails for about $100; Musee, $75; Pellegrini Vineyards' Vintner's Reserve Merlot, $70; vineyard-designated series, $60; Old Vines Merlot, $55; Bergen Road Red, $46; Nine Barrel Reserve Merlot, $42; and, First Label Merlot, $42, among others.
"I've been trying to figure out how to market it for a long time," Silver said of the winery's top cuvée.
Peconic Bay will be introducing an entry-level red, too, called Claret. It's expected to retail for less than $20 a bottle, Silver said. The winery's current red wine offerings sell for $28 a bottle.
Peconic Bay Claret is a merlot from the 2009 vintage and Silver describes it as a "soft, juicy, extracted style merlot."
The wines will be available for sale at the winery's tasting room and distributed to retailers through the winery's wholesaler, Lake Success-based Martin-Scott Wines.
However, Peconic Bay Winery might face difficulty moving a new high-end product, especially given the downturn in the economy.
Link Larsen, wine manager of Amagansett Wines & Spirits, says Peconic Bay and other Long Island wineries aren't alone in this regard. All wines over a certain price point, including hard-to-get cult wines from California have experienced reduced demand during the economic malaise. Moreover, Larsen said.
"Long Island has a disadvantage in the New York metro market. They are less well-known." And, he added, with previously difficult-to-obtain high-end California wines available to connoisseurs, the competition for Long Island wines has been heightened.
Last year, Peconic Bay Winery launched a second-label, Nautique, a line of non-vintage red, white and rose wines, made mostly with local grapes. Nautique wines, which are in a distinctive tapered bottles, retail for $18 per bottle.
Peconic Bay Winery was founded in 1979 as Peconic Bay Vineyards by the late Ray Blum and has been owned since 1999 by Ursula and Paul Lowerre.