With the upcoming release of 2004 Merliance ($35), the Long Island Merlot Alliance
(LIMA) has captured the true essence and grace of Long Island Merlot.
Last fall Raphael, Pellegrini Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards
, Shinn Estate Vineyards
and Wolffer Estate Vineyards
formed LIMA to promote merlot as Long Island's signature grape variety, and they have dedicated themselves to its development and continued — and improved — quality in our region.
Along with educational programs, Merlot-centered events and research into why Long Island is so well suited to merlot, LIMA has crafted Long Island's first cooperatively produced merlot — 2004 Merliance.
To create this 100% merlot wine, each winery selected the two barrels from their cellar that best represented their own individual style as well as Long Island's unique terroir. With ten barrels of merlot total, five wineries and five winemakers with differing styles, creating a smooth, well-integrated wine was a challenge, but through intense collaboration and cooperation, the wine succeeds.
In early April, LIMA hosted hosted a press and trade preview tasting at Craft
restaurant in Manhattan.
Tasted as a barrel sample (the wine hadn't been bottled yet) one would be right expect the wine to be awkward, uneven or even severely muted, but it wasn't any of those things.
Medium ruby in the glass, an aromatic nose offered rich berry aromas with hints of sweet oak and gentle earth character. Given the various lots of wine that went into the blend, its balance and integration are quite impressive. Fruit forward, this wine's flavors are framed by ripe, soft tannins, light sweet oak, and hints of wet gravel and earth. Refined and elegant, this is an impressive first Merliance offering.
It is easily identified as a Long Island merlot — and that's the point. It shows off Long Island's terroir nicely even though, as Pellegrini's Russell Hearn said, "2004 was a slightly cooler, but elegant year. We didn't want to overdo the oak on this wine." Roman Roth
of Wolffer Estate
concurred, adding "It is a benchmark wine not for its power but for its elegance."
Merliance 2004 will sell for $35 when it becomes available next month — primarily at the member winery tasting rooms.
60% of the $35 price tag will go back into the local wine industry in the form of local research and development, as well as education. According to Shinn "With a large percentage of the profits going towards research this wine is a bargain. It is a unique wine. Only 250 cases were produced and it's an extraordinary accomplishment by our members."