Sunday, February 12, 2012

Howard G. Goldberg Raves About Lenz (LI)

Inspired by Bordeaux
Published: February 10, 2012

Wines from the Lenz Winery, in Peconic, have had a French accent since Eric Fry became winemaker in 1989. It seems even more pronounced in the latest releases.

“I don’t look to California for inspiration — I look to Bordeaux,” Mr. Fry said in a telephone interview. Broadly speaking, this stylistic distinction means consumers can expect his reds to be understated; they are also some of the most interesting reds made on Long Island.

The fine Lenz 2007 Estate Select merlot ($23) and 2007 regular merlot ($17) mimic their counterparts from the St.-Émilion region of Bordeaux. The Estate Select, a model of restraint, offers a scent of late-summer roses and, as it lingers on the palate, myriad subtleties; the longer it is cellared, the more profound it is likely to become. The punchier, flavorsome regular merlot is a meaty everyday wine.

The light, fresh 2008 cabernet sauvignon ($23) evokes cabernets from petits châteaux, small estates in the Médoc region.

As for whites, the attractive, slightly oaky, round 2008 Old Vines chardonnay ($25) has a Burgundy character, and the salmon-tinted, aromatic 2008 Blanc de Noir ($15), made from pinot noir, echoes the especially food-friendly bone-dry whites and rosés of southern France.

Mr. Fry is a gifted maker of sparkling wine, as his appetite-whetting all-pinot noir 2005 Cuvée ($30) and yeasty, nutty 1999 Cuvée ($60), fashioned from chardonnay and pinot noir, both attest.

The 1999 sparkler is a re-release. When it was first released, in 2005, Lenz retained 40 cases to enable the yeast in the bottle, which allowed a second fermentation and generated the bubbles, to keep influencing the flavor. In November, Mr. Fry ejected the yeast from a batch of bottles and began selling them.

In the Champagne region, such intermittently released wines, designated récemment dégorgé, are known as R.D., which is also a Bollinger trademark. Lenz’s label carries a translation: “recently disgorged.”

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