Tom of FERMENTATION recently made a call for Top 10 Lists and I knew I had at least one in me as I look back on 2005. In fact, I'm sure I have more than one...but for now I present my Top 10 Must-Try Long Island Wines of 2005. While some of these certainly would qualify for a "best" list as well, this list is more accurately defined as the wines I'd insist any wine lover taste (if possible) when they come to Long Island for the first time.
10. Bedell Cellars 2001 Reserve Merlot. One of our region's top merlot makers, this is a wine of superior complexity and elegance -- from a tremendous vintage.
9. The Lenz Winery 2003 Gewurtztramier. For my money and palate, there's no better local example of this love-it-or-leave-it varietal.
8. Channing Daughters Winery 2003 Blaufrankisch. The only Long Island Blaufrankisch makes me wonder why more people aren't growing it every single time I taste it.
7. Macari Vineyards 2005 Early Wine. Goes from field to glass in weeks rather than years and is one of the Island's most unique wines.
6. Osprey's Dominion 2001 Cabernet Franc. Probably my favorite rendition of this under-appreciated grape.
5. Shinn Estate Vineyards 2002 “Six Barrel” Merlot. Truly a wine that exemplifies Long Island terroir.
4. Lieb Family Cellars 2001 Blanc de Blanc. The only sparkling pinot blanc that I've tasted, it's unique and yet classic at the same time. It's also what Nena and I toasted with at our wedding.
3. Roanoke Vineyards 2000 Merlot. Sold out, but it was my favorite merlot of the year, so it has to be on this list.
2. Diliberto Winery 2003 Chardonnay. Shows the type of balance and refinement that I love in this over-manipulated grape. Worth seeking out (Sal doesn't have a tasting room yet).
1. Wolffer Estate 2002 Premier Cru Merlot. Long Island's most expensive wine ($125/750ml) I think everyone should try it at least once.