Long Island’s 2013 reds, a vintage considered to be a banner year for the region, are slowly being rolled out — and Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate has taken notice.
An article in the publication’s most recent edition (paywall) highlights some of the area’s smaller producers — like Mattebella Vineyards in Southold, whose 2012 Old World Blend received 92 points — and pays attention to a couple local malbecs.
In particular, wine critic Mark Squires highlighted two 90-point 2013 malbecs: one from Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead and one from Raphael in Peconic.
“I liked them both a lot for what they brought to the table,” he wrote of the two bottles.
Squires stressed, however, that malbec lovers should expect a distinct expression of the grape — something very different from what wine drinkers might expect from an Argentinian bottle.
“Long Island’s iteration of the grape typically emphasizes high acid, not a lot of flesh and a rather funky aroma of roasted eggplant and mushroom (some might reference some rare, bloody beef, too), with little resemblance to what you might be used to from Argentina,” Squires wrote.
As Raphael winemaker Anthony Nappa put it, malbec will probably never be a big seller on Long Island because it’s difficult to grow here. But the region is producing more of it and making an increased number of interesting varieties, Squires wrote.
Of the 2013 Raphael Malbec Reserve, which was just bottled and has not yet been released, Squires called it “bright and crisp,” with an “Old World style.”
“It takes the somewhat rustic Long Island style and makes it sing,” he wrote. “After about two hours open, it was still getting better and it was awfully tasty. It will be a wine that cries out for food, but after aeration I found myself just plain enjoying it.”
Squires described Martha Clara’s 2013 Malbec Estate Reserve as the more approachable of the two, though he stressed that the term doesn’t necessarily mean “better.”
“This is a fairly complete wine, far more so than most, with the acidity and aromatics rather well controlled,” he wrote. “At least at this preview time, it has fine focus, a beautiful finish and a mid-palate that can balance the controlled power.”
Overall, 17 local wines received a score of 90, the number used to denote an outstanding wine. Two local bottles scored 91 and five scored 92. Two bottles from Paumanok Vineyards received a score of 93.
The high praise comes on the heels of a Wine Advocate article published in June that gave two Long Island wines, both from Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, 94 points. It was a record for the region.