Chardonnay is the most-planted white grape on Long Island, covering around 30% of local vineyard land. That's a lot of chardonnay, relative to the white grape that I think holds the most potential for the region, sauvignon blanc, which covers far less than 5%. That's also a lot of mediocre chardonnay. A lot of chardonnay that (usually) isn't going to do much more than fill the white wine columns on tasting room sheets.
Don't get wrong, there are some outstanding, well-made Long Island chardonnays -- made both with and without barrels -- but Long Island is never going to be known for its chardonnay. The reds will always be top of mind and I think other white varieties -- sauvignon blanc and even riesling -- are already deserving of more attention than most local chardonnay.
One way that some local wineries have started to leverage their chardonnay plantings, but still make distinctive, classy wines, is through blending, and this Bedell Cellars 2007 "TASTE" White ($30) is a fine example. It captures the essence of Long Island white wine and also proves that the whole really can be greater than the sum of the parts.
Made with 59% chardonnay, 16% sauvignon blanc, 14% viognier and 11% Gewürztraminer, this elegant, lively white wine is reminiscent of spring on the nose, with aromas of white flowers, sweet and savory herbs, fresh grapefruit and lemon zest.
The palate is seamless and medium bodied, with flavors that move from bright lemon and grapefruit, to fresh-cut flowers, grass and hay, to melon and -- as it warms a bit -- subtle Gewurzt-driven spice. A interesting vanilla cream component emerges as the wine moves from chilled to room temperature as well. The mouthfeel is faintly oily on the mid-palate but still lively with a tingle of acidity on a long, melony finish.
Producer: Bedell Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Rating: (3.5 out of 5 | Very good-to-Delicious)