Merlot rules Long Island wine country. It's the most planted variety and its quality led to the creation of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.
But it’s hard to ignore the many great varietal cabernet francs being grown and made here as well. Pellegrini Vineyards does a particularly great job with this lesser-known Bordeaux varietal. Thei 2001 Cabernet Franc ($18) has an extremely expressive nose (typical of the variety) that fills the air with raspberry, black cherry and sweet spice.
Juicy with some acidity and low tannins, the palate is ripe with raspberries accented by white pepper and minty-basil notes. I enjoy it with Greek and Italian food, including the fusilli with sausage, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes that my mother in-law cooked for us Friday night.