For all of Long Island wine’s diversity, both in grapes and in styles, it’s rare that you find a red wine that can be considered jammy — that sensation of syrupy macerated or cooked fruit that is perhaps most apparent in Australian Shiraz and California Zinfandel.
Anyway, you just don’t find it often here in our maritime climate. But if you like that style, this week’s Wine of the Week, might hit your palate the right way. Roanoke Vineyards 2015 Theory and Practice ($28) is a blend of half Merlot and half Petit Verdot.
“We’ve had a tremendous run of Petit Verdot,” says Roanoke’s Scott Sandell. “Hot and dry summers are key to fully ripening this variety on the North Fork, and when it’s good … it’s great.”
For those familiar with Petit Verdot, the small berried, late ripening member of the Bordeaux varieties, this may seem an odd blend at first, but as Sandell puts it “Petit Verdot can add serious depth in a blend, as well as terrific optics, too. It’s almost black.”
It can also be quite angular with high tannins and high acidity. On its own it can be a bit one-note. It’s not for everyone. But here, blended with a warm-year Merlot, those rougher, more rustic edges are smoothed out and the result is a lip-smacking red that has a charming sort of drink-now deliciousness.
It starts off with jammy blueberry and black cherry aromas with just the most subtle toasty vanilla edge (it spent 12 months in oak). More of those juicy berries greet the palate with fresh acidity and just a little gritty tannin on the back end, that was no doubt softened by the Merlot in the blend. With a little time to breathe in the glass, there is a distinct spicy earthiness that emerges and reminds you that this is, in fact, a Long Island wine. It’s not super complex, but it’s great with a burger or with other beefy fare.
As you probably know by now, Roanoke Vineyards’ primary tasting room is members only, but this wine is also available at their public tasting room on Love Lane in Mattituck for $28.