Merlot is the most widely planted grape varietal on Long Island with about 700 acres planted representing 30% of the total. It’s an early ripening varietal that does well in cooler climates which is great for the maritime climate of the North Fork of Long Island where hurricanes might blow through during the harvest.
It has its own association, the Long Island Merlot Alliance whose mission is “to educate media and consumers as to the quality of Merlot and Merlot based blends in Long Island. At their website you can learn the history of Merlot including about the first vines planted on Long Island in 1974 at Hargrave Winery and Mudd’s Vineyard.
The 2013 vintage was called a “fantastic” vintage with a hot Summer and a long, dry Autumn which meant a later harvest of very ripe grapes.
2013 Waters Crest Winery Merlot “Grand Vin”. 28735 Main Road, Cutchogue
Jim Waters does not own vineyards but makes his wines from locally purchased grapes. Up until recently, the tasting room was in a strip mall but has recently opened a comfortable tasting room on the main road.
The wine was aged for 24 months in new French oak, very dark red in color, opaque, black cherry, strawberry and slate on the nose, juicy, concentrated crushed black fruit with bright silky tannin at the end.
2013 Pelligrini Vineyards Merlot “Estate”. 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue
The two story tasting room was built in 1991 overlooking a courtyard with an Italian cloister design.
The wine spent 24 months in oak, black in color, crushed black fruit, cooked vegetable and toast on the nose, concentrated and tight with slate and smoke notes on the fruit, ending with tight tannins and crisp acids.
2013 Paumanok Vineyards Merlot “Grand Vintage”. 1074 Main Road, Aquebogue
Paumanok is a 127 acre estate winery founded in 1983 with the tasting room in a turn of the century barn.
Aged two months longer than their regular Merlot, dark purple with a purple rim, dark chocolate and black cherry on the nose, tight, bright cherry fruit with crisp acids and tannins on the finish.