Rich Pisacano, co-owner of Roanoke Vineyards, is a cabernet sauvignon guy, and he and consulting winemaker Roman Roth make some of Long Island's most consistently good cabernet-based wines -- no small feat in a cool climate region.
But as good as those cabernets can be, this is still Long Island, where merlot still rules. Not surprisingly, the Roanoke Vineyards merlots can be standouts as well.
Even in its youth, this Roanoke Vineyards 2005 Merlot ($45/sold out) shows depth and complexity on a nose where black plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit aromas mingle with those of licorice, dark chocolate and spearmint.
On the fuller side of medium-bodied the palate is led by brooding dark fruit at its core with spice, cocoa powder, hints of vanilla and an elegant, classic minty note layered beneath.
The tannins are big, but not angular, providing structure to a Long Island merlot that is clearly built for the long haul. That minty-herbal note lingers on a finish with great length as well.
This merlot perfectly displays the quality of the 2005 vintage without trying to be a West Coast wine. It may very well be the quintessential warm-year Long Island merlot.
Unfortunately, it is sold out, but Pisacano often re-releases small lots of library wines down the road, so keep an eye out for this one.
Producer: Roanoke Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long island
Oak: 18 months, 37% new French
Cases Produced: 175
Rating: (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive )