You've heard before that 2005 was a great vintage for Long Island producers able to weather the up to 18 inches of rain in early October. Before the deluge, it was a hot, dry summer that led to riper-than-usual fruit that brought intensity not often seen in Long Island wine. Several 2005 reds have received critical acclaim already, despite their youth, and as more and more hit the market, I'd expect more of the same.
One newly released 2005 red, Raphael's 2005 La Fontana ($30 at the winery), shows off both the vintage's ripeness and winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich's skills in the cellar.
A blend of 80% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, 3% malbec and 2% petit verdot, this medium-dark garnet is very old world on the nose. Dark fruit aromas of blackberry, black cherry and black plum intermingle with those of earthy tobacco, thyme, mint and subtle spice.
Right out of the bottle, the secondary non-fruit flavors like tobacco, black pepper and herbs are more prominent. But with just a few moments in the glass, black and red fruit flavors emerge, unfurling to fill the mouth from start to finish. The tannins are ripe but still grippy, pointing to a fine future ahead.
Overall, it's on the fuller side of medium bodied and the finish lingers with a delicious minty note.
My friend, we'll call him Woody, is a lover of Bordeaux reds. He took the bottle home after my tasting and said the fruit emerged even more a few hours later and tannins had really softened nicely.
Grape(s): 80% merlot, 15% cabernet franc, 3% malbec and 2% petit verdot
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Price: $30 at the winery
Rating: (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive)