Sunday, May 11, 2008

NY Times Howard Goldberg Writes About Merliance In Long Island

2005 Merliance Is New Merlot From Collective
Published: May 11, 2008

When the Long Island Merlot Alliance was formed by five producers in 2005, the local wine industry debated its value. Since merlot had become established as the Island’s signature red — today 38 of 43 producers make it — an organization to promote it and to define quality standards was unnecessary, dissenting producers said.

Undeterred, the alliance — Pellegrini, Raphael, Sherwood House, Shinn and W├Âlffer — strives to make “Long Island merlot” an internationally recognized brand. It has just released its second collectively composed merlot, the 2005 Merliance. (Its first venture, vintage-dated 2004, was released in 2006.)

The medium-bodied 2005 red ($35) is soft, richly fruity and reminiscent of macerated black and red berries; six months’ further bottle aging will heighten its nuances. It’s a pleasing, but not spectacular, wine.

In producing the blend, each member selected two barrels from its cellars that the winemakers believed best represented its individual style as well as Long Island’s terroir, or grape-growing conditions. Calling 2005 an extraordinary vintage, Richard Olsen-Harbich, Raphael’s winemaker, said it was “the driest growing season on Long Island in almost 60 years.”

He added, “We had very mature, intense fruit at harvest, which is evident in the dark fruit flavors and ripe tannins found in the wine.”

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