By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Yes. Wolffer Estate Vineyards' Premier Cru (the former name for this wine) is perhaps known as much, or more, for it's price tag than it's quality. But, the wine sells -- in part because of the wineries Hamptons locale, but also because it happens to be very good.
And unlike some of Long Island's other high-priced "reserve" wines it is only made when winemaker Roman Roth thinks the fruit coming into the winery warrants it. I can respect that.
2005 was one of those years, even though what was a hot, dry growing season turned extremely soggy in early October. Wolffer waited until the rains had passed and the grapes had recovered to harvest the blocks that go into this wine, with impressive results.
Wolffer Estate 2005 Christian's Cuvee Merlot ($100), renamed to honor founder Christian Wolffer who passed away nearly a year ago, is made of 83% merlot from Wolffer's oldest merlot vines (planted in 1990, 1.6 tons/acre), 14.5% cabernet sauvignon from Roanoke Vineyards (planted in 2000, 1.3 tons/acre) and 2.5% cabernet franc (planted in 2000, 1.7 tons/acre) and it's made for the long haul.
The nose bursts with crushed blackberry and blueberry aromas with subtle dried plum character, toasty oak, vanilla, dark-roast coffee and star anise.
Medium-full bodied, this classic Hamptons merlot remains elegant and is well structured, with ripe, but firm tannins that provide the structure ripe blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and plum flavors with more anise spice, cedar, coffee, and toasty vanilla. The lengthy finish is marked by a minerally graphite note that I particularly enjoyed.
Is it worth $100? I can't answer that for you. I don't know what your bank account looks like, but every lover of Long Island merlot should try this wine at least once.
Producer: Wolffer Estate Vineyards
AVA: The Hamptons, Long Island
Brix at harvest: 22.6 brix (avg.)
TA: 5.6 g/l
Oak: 21 months, 100% new French
Rating: (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive )