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Selections from the North Fork of Long Island
Which major American city has a premium wine growing region located just a 90 minute drive away, a region which has seen vineyard acreage increase by 1500 percent over just twenty years, which is home to multiple AVAs, and which sees over one million tourists a year? Surprisingly enough the city is New York, and the region is Long Island, which now has over 30 wineries and more than 3000 acres of vineyards.
We were recently invited by a representative of the Long Island Wine Council to taste samples of wines from one of those AVAs, the North Fork of Long Island. Having visited wineries in the area several years ago, we were happy to have the opportunity to get re-acquainted—and we weren’t disappointed! The North Fork of Long Island produces a multitude of fine wines which would please the wine aficionado.
The North Fork of Long Island has a maritime climate and geography that provide excellent conditions for producing wine. Growers in the area are experimenting with many different varieties, root stocks and clones, and the jury is still out as to which grapes grow best under local conditions. As of now, there seems to be broad consensus that among the reds, Merlot and Cabernet Franc do especially well and, among whites, Viognier is a stand out. Of course, Long Island is still a very young industry, and there is still a lot to learn about the terroir.
Long Island wines are stylistically more European than to Californian. Vintage variation is a part of life, but improved vineyard management practices are keeping quality high. Wines on the North Fork are often understated in fruit, are generally lean and elegant, and have good complexity on the nose and palate. There are often intriguing wild berry flavors, earth and smoky notes. Happily, the wines are generally well-balanced and rarely high in alcohol, which is a great virtue these days.
Following are our notes and ratings on the wines we tasted:
Osprey's Dominion 2005 Merlot Reserve North Fork of Long Island ($35) 88
Merlot is certainly one of the specialties of area wineries. This one from Osprey Dominion boasts a medium dark ruby color and aromas of wild red berries, plum and cedar. It has a flavorful attack of dark red fruit with vanilla on the palate, nicely polished tannins, excellent acidity, and a long finish.
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2006 Wild Boar Doe North Fork of Long Island ($43) 89
A blend of 88% Merlot, with remaining amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, the light-bodied Wild Boar Doe offers spicy red fruit on the nose and slightly tart red fruit and toast on the palate. It has a brambly character with ripe tannins, good balance and an easy drinking finish.
Palmer Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Franc North Fork of Long Island ($20) 90
Palmer Vineyards is one Long Island’s most illustrious estates and is among the top producers of Cabernet Franc. This one boasts a medium dark ruby color and a nose of dark berry fruit, earth, spi...