During a recent tasting of more than a dozen local merlots (look for the story in the next issue of Long Island Wine Press), I was pleasantly surprised by just how good almost every wine was. They were fruit forward almost without exception while also being clean, bright and absolutely food friendly. Merlot is maligned here and there by some — myself included — but it’s clear that local vineyard managers and winemakers have zeroed in on what it takes to make local merlot shine.
I can’t include every delicious wine in that forthcoming story, so we’ll make one of the last cuts this week’s “Wine of the Week” instead.
Harbes Vineyard 2014 Merlot ($28) is an appealing, drink-now sort of red wine that will please a plethora of palates.
The nose is dominated by black cherry and plum aromas with subtle notes of spice and earthiness. On the second and third days open, that earthiness becomes more pronounced and is joined by a distinct high-toned floral quality.
Medium bodied and somewhat plush in the mouth, the palate shows a nice bit of concentration in its berry flavors with a sprinkling of spiced cookie crumbs. The tannins are there, but very well integrated, making this wine quite approachable today. There is also some acidity which gives the wine a certain freshness that makes it well suited for the dinner table.
I’m consistently impressed with the wines — particularly the reds — being made at Harbes. With the crowds they draw to the farm stand et al, the wines don’t need to be this good to sell well.
The 2014 Merlot is available for $28 at the tasting barn.