Visitors to the North Fork wine trail probably won't recognize the name Bridge Vineyards. They don't have a tasting room and their wines aren't widely available on Long Island. A couple are available at The Tasting Room, but it looks like this particular wine isn't.
Owners Greg Sandor and Paul Wegimont are doing something a little different with the wines they make from their North Fork vineyard. Instead of trying to figure out how to pull people out to the North Fork from the five boroughs, they are taking the wines west. Into Brooklyn to be more specific, with Bridge Urban Winery, which is part tasting room, part wine bar and part restaurant. They pour their own wines there, but also those from other wineries throughout New York State.
Before the hot 2005 and 2007 years, 2001 was widely considered one of Long Island's best vintages. Given it's lineage, Bridge Vineyards' 2001 Merlot ($20) was a bit lighter than I expected, but still elegant and food friendly.
A medium-light ruby red, the nose is mature and nuanced with black and red cherries, bramble, spicy oak and a faint minty-herbal note. The body is light-to-medium with ripe cherries the dominant flavor here, with a little vanilla a little spice and a little earthiness on a disappointingly short finish.
The tannins are well incorporated and soft. I think that this wine has probably peaked or is very close to it. It's not going to improve much in your cellar. Still, it's an elegant, mature example of the elegant, refined style that Long Island does very well. My guess is that yields were a little high in the vineyard, which is why it's so light compared to many other 2001 merlots.