Every week I get at least a handful of emails — some from friends, some from friends of friends and some from complete strangers — asking for suggestions on wineries to should visit or what local wines they should buy.
Recently, someone asked me what the best $30 merlot from Long Island is. Now, I hate the concept of “best” as it relates to wine. Wine is ever-changing in the bottle. What tastes amazing one day might taste less so the next. Plus, who is to say that your palate likes the same things that mine does?
I didn’t want to answer the question, but when pushed, this week’s “Wine of the Week,” Lenz Winery 2013 Estate Selection Merlot ($30) is where I landed. It’s a good representation of what Long Island merlot is and can be.
For one, 2013 was a good year. Some would say great one. Clearly looking to the Old World for inspiration, this merlot is made in a classic Long Island style with ripe, but not too ripe, dark berry and plum fruit on the nose with hints of cocoa powder, light spice and wet earth.
Medium-bodied and earthy, the palate is showing mature savory flavors of mushrooms and roasted fennel along with ripe black cherry and plum flavors.
Long Island merlot — particularly from a producer of Lenz’s pedigree — has proven to be long lived in the cellar. But if you want something that shows a bit of what older local merlot tastes like while still being younger and fresher than a truly aged wine, this is a great option.