Nappa. Macari. Pellegrini. Pugliese. Borghese. Diliberto. These are the Italian and Italian-American names that help define Long Island wine. These are also well-established brands, but there’s at least one more you may not be familiar with — Medolla.
Medolla Vineyards, owned by John and Denise Medolla, launched in 2007 with a 2002 Merlot. Medolla Vineyards operates under a tenant winery license at Lenz Winery. Basically, Lenz Winery serves as a host winery and Medolla uses the facilities when Lenz isn’t using them. Lenz winemaker Eric Fry also serves as the consultant winemaker.
Both John and Denise work in the aviation industry, but their family has winemaking roots that can be traced to the base of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius. John’s grandparents were winemakers from the nearby town of Torre Del Greco. “My family used the Piedi Rosso (“red foot”) grape and as legend has it, the Moscato grape as well,” he said.
The Medollas don’t own a vineyard, so they purchase fruit and the grapes used in this week’s wine of the week Medolla Vineyards 2010 Merlot ($30) were grown by veteran grower Sam McCullough, who also serves as Lenz’s vineyard manager.
It’s a 2010 — but also a new release — so you can expect some aromas and flavors associated with wine that has a bit more bottle age than you’re maybe used to. Much like Lenz merlot, this one straddles the line between old and new worlds, with a little rustic edge to it. The nose offers earthy tobacco and licorice aromas along with raspberry and cherry fruit. Medium-full bodied, the flavors are similar to the nose with some minty, eucalyptus nuances and well-incorporated, ripe tannins. Well balanced with a nice long finish, this one is tasting pretty great right now, but should continue to develop for several years.
When the Medollas retire, they hope to open a tasting room here on the Island. In the meantime, you can buy this directly from them at medollavineyards.com for $30.