One wine region that is known for growing merlot grapes is Long Island, NY. Since January was dedicated to the Merlot grape, my husband and I decided to take a weekend trip out to North Fork, Long Island. We visited four wonderful wineries and had a lovely weekend.
First stop was Pellegrini Vineyards, a family vineyard with some of the oldest vines on Long Island (planted in 1982). I tried the 2010 Merlot, 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Of the 3, I liked the Cab Franc the best, but then the server had me sample the Vintner’s Pride Encore (also 2010 Merlot), and it was delicious. It had an earthy/smokey aroma, but wonderful black cherry flavor and was very well balanced.
Next up was Lieb Cellars. Lieb produces two separate labels: Lieb Reserve and Bridge Lane, but I decided to go with their Reserve tasting:
- 2013 Blanc de Blancs
- 2013 Sparkling Rose
- 2014 Pinot Blanc
- 2013 Meritage
- 2013 Petit Verdot
I really enjoyed both the Meritage and the Blanc de Blancs. However, since it was the month of Merlot, and we were getting a bit hungry, we decided to order some cheese and a bottle of the 2013 Reserve Merlot. It was very smooth, but with enough tannin to pair well with the cheese.
The third winery we visited was Kontokasta. Located on a bluff overlooking Long Island sound, it is a lovely spot, with some tasty wines. I tried four reds:
- 2008 Blum Merlot
- 2013 Estate Merlot
- 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2013 Cabernet Franc
The Merlot was good, but the Cab Franc was my favorite and had some nice peppery notes to warm me from the January cold. They also had an excellent Riesling, which was the hubby’s fave.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Lenz Winery. Lenz has a strong reputation for Merlot, and I was not disappointed. Both the 2012 Merlot and the 2007 Old Vines Merlot were excellent. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that they had been bottling Malbec (instead of just using it for blending) since 2010, and I found the 2012 Malbec to be quite good.
Overall a very enjoyable weekend of wine exploration. Long Island is a booming wine region within New York State, and I highly recommend a visit.