Merliance, the North Fork group dedicated to the recognition of merlot as Long Island’s premier grape, welcomed Lieb Cellars as its newest member Sept. 24. Two barrels of the Cutchogue winery’s 2012 merlot will be included in Merliance’s 2012 cooperative merlot blend.
“There’s a reason merlot wines dominate our red portfolio,” said Russell Hearn, a founding member of Merliance and winemaker at Premium Wine Group in Mattituck. Earlier this year, Lieb Cellars was acquired with Premium Wine Group by private equity firm Southport Lane and is now under Hearn’s technical direction. “The grape thrives on Long Island, enabling us to make wines of consistent quality, no matter what the vintage brings.”
Lieb currently makes three merlot-based wines: its Reserve merlot, value Bridge Lane merlot and Right Coast Red blend.
“Lieb’s own merlot-based wines have earned top scores from national wine publications,” Hearn said. “By joining the Merliance, we seek to continue the important research and quality initiatives the organization advances, and grow the perception of merlot and merlot blends as the signature wines of Long Island.”
With the addition of Lieb Cellars, Merliance now has seven members, including Clovis Point, McCall Wines, Raphael, Sherwood House Vineyards and T’Jara Vineyards, all of which are on the North Fork, and Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack.