Many of the 2005 merlots that I've tasted have been big, plush and -- frankly -- not very true to Long Island's unique terroir. These reds lean more towards California in style, at least in their youth, and aren't very good values.
Lovers of true Long Island wines should thank Shinn Estate Vineyards for staying true to the region with their Shinn Estate Vineyards 2005 Estate Merlot ($27). It's a ripe, but surprisingly understated and agile red with blackberry, raspberry and plum on an expressive nose that is filled out with herbs, mocha, earth and vanilla.
Similar flavors come through on the palate, with the addition of a minerally note on a medium-long finish. Medium-grip, but well-incorporated tannins provide nice structure and will give this wine some longevity, maybe 5-7 years.
Today, it benefits greatly from an hour or two open, breathing.
Grape(s): 81% merlot, 19% cabernet franc
Producer: Shinn Estate Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Rating: (3 out of 5 | Recommended)