The Wines of Long Island

Don Meredith, Cowboys QB and television commentator once said, “Life’s heaviest burden is great potential.” For a number of years, this has been the case with the wines of Long Island. Last fall I attended a seminar and tasting of Long Island wines in which some of that potential was realized. The format was a blind tasting of LI wines against wines made in France, California and New Zealand from the same varietals.

Two Long Island wines bested their competition on my scorecard. With excellent crispness and minerality, the 2008 Osprey’s Dominion Sauvignon Blanc ($14) topped a Sancerre and the legendary Cloudy Bay, and for half the price of those two.  I also picked the ripe black cherry flavored, dark and brooding 2005 Grapes of Roth Merlot ($50) over the well regarded Clos L’oratoire St. Émilion ($64) and Craggy Range Gimblet Gravel ($60).

In tasting wines with lunch that followed, three wines stood out:

  • Marcari Vineyards 2004 Alexandra Blend ($80). This Bordeaux blendof57% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec is a ripe, rich and lush wine with very good structure.
  • Shinn Estates 2007 Wild Boar Doe ($30). The winery refers to this as its “playful ‘wild’ Bordeaux blend,” which contains 40% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 15% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Ripe, dark and spicy, this wine also has good acidity, which would make it a good food wine. (Shinn also makes a good value Ultra Brut Sparkling wine for $16.)
  • Channing Daughters 2007 Blaufrankisch ($25).  With a lineup that also includes Teroldego, Lagrein, Refosco and Dornfelder, it’s no wonder thewinery press sheet states “Channing Daughthers Winery prides itself on artisanal experimentation.” That experimentation worked with the Austrian Blaufrankisch, which exhibited ripe dark cherry flavors and good balancing acidity.

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