So I'm clicking through the piece, expecting to see Beaujolais Nouveau, maybe Aussie shiraz mentioned. I really didn't know what else would be included.
Imagine my surprise when I saw "Long Island Wine" listed with Ms. Feiring saying:
"The strawberries, potatoes, and corn grown out on Long Island are world-class. But grapes? Not so much (though you've got to give local winemakers credit for their perseverance). The fact is, soils are just too shallow on Long Island and the weather's just too humid to make world-class wine, especially from Merlot and Cabernet. Of course, that won't stop your friends out East from touting their new local find—nor should it stop you from showing up for the weekend with a bottle of a better alternative."
Now, I'm the first to admit that there are a lot of bad wines made on Long Island. No one can dispute that. The same can be said of any wine region, however, and the percentage of I'm not sure how much experience Ms. Feiring has growing grapes anywhere, let alone on Long Island, but for her to state definitively that the soil are too shallow is ludicrous.
And too humid? Yes, maybe for thin-skinned varieties like zinfandel, which was abandoned years ago, but ocean breezes and meticulous vineyard management mitigate the risks brought about by humidity.
I might not have even mentioned this story if she had only mentioned cabernet sauvignon as a grape that doesn't do well here. But to include merlot is more than a bit misinformed. Merlot ripens quite well here and leads to many of the Island's best wines.
By the way, it's true that cabernet doesn't always do well here, but it has little to do with soils or humidity. It has to do with heat and sunshine. A lot of the time, it doesn't ripen fully -- at least by Napa standards.
Maybe Long Island would belong on a list like this one if there was some mention of wine prices or perceived value. Long Island wines aren't cheap. At least the good ones aren't cheap. Value is a tougher descriptor to pin down, but I think there are some great values in the $25-40 range. But there isn't any mention of prices in Ms. Feiring's piece.
My guess is that Ms. Feiring hasn't tasted very many Long Island wines -- or at least a fair, representative number of the region's best. And she's also ignored the fact that Long Island is still a very young region. And, to be overrated, doesn't that mean that you have to be rated highly by a lot of people? I rate Long Island wine highly, but Long Island is still up and coming in most wine circles.
Aside from Long Island, there are a few entries that I would agree with if I thought broad generalizations like these made any sense. She includes Aussie shiraz, as I expected, but to say that all Aussie shiraz is overrated is ignorant. The same is true for her inclusion of Chilean cabernet, and others.
Probably most disturbing, to me anyway, is her assertion that sauvignon blanc from Marlborough
"...when compared to the Old World original stands up neither in terms of price nor quality. Our advice: Grab a bottle from the Loire Valley, where diverse microclimates and the yellowish limestone soil give wines real nuance."
I happen to prefer Loire sauvignon to Kiwi renditions too, but that's a stylistic preference. Lots of people prefer the aggressiveness of Kiwi sauvignon blanc and find Loire whites boring. Does that really mean that they are overrated?
Alice, I'd like to invite you to come out to Long Island wine country this winter and taste with me. Perhaps being a Long Island native you are remembering the wines from the 80s and early 90s. Come taste with me and we'll find some wines to enjoy together.
Maybe you won't find anything you like. Maybe you will. But at least we'll get the region's best to your lips.
Oh, and since when are strawberries a crop that Long Island is famous for? Potatoes and corn yes. But strawberries? The Mattituck festival aside, I think there are other, more famous, crops.