By HOWARD G. GOLDBERG
Published: July 5, 2013
Long Island’s terrific 2010 vintage helps make the argument that merlot, in single-variety wines or dominant in red blends, should be accepted as the region’s signature red grape.
It is a point of view espoused by Merliance, an eight-year-old organization, formerly the Long Island Merlot Alliance. The group recently released its 2010 collective blend, also called Merliance ($35). Richly aromatic and hearty, it is first-rate, as are the members’ separate 2010 merlots released so far, and it surpasses the group’s standard-setting 2007.
As for members’ individual 2010s, Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s refined and understated regular merlot ($20) and its subtle and sultry Lambardo merlot ($35) — named for a valued horse, a jumper, once owned by the founder of the estate, Christian Wölffer — deserve to accompany haute cuisine.
Raphael’s exciting estate merlot ($22), virtually a dark cherry-blackberry-blueberry compote, is opulent and nuanced.
McCall Wines’ reserve merlot ($24), a red to linger over, is graceful and nearly sweet; the regular merlot ($18), charming and slightly vegetal, seems intended for everyday consumption.
T’Jara Vineyards’ plush, easy-sipping regular merlot ($25) has an almost candied flavor; the Reserve Red ($34) is concentrated and powerful.
Wölffer’s Christian’s Cuvée merlot is scheduled for Aug. 15 release. Clovis Point’s Vintner’s Select is to be released in September, as is Raphael’s First Label. Sherwood House Vineyards’ regular bottling and its Sherwood Manor, a blend, are set for October release. I have not yet tasted these wines. Although all new wines are gambles, I bet they will be winners.
Merliance is sold in members’ tasting rooms, via their Web sites and at Empire State Cellars, a Riverhead shop specializing in New York wines.
Gilles Martin, Merliance’s technical director, oversaw the production of 300 cases at the Premium Wine Group, a contract winery in Mattituck, from two barrels contributed by each member.
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