Simply Merlot Paradise
June 30, 2009
Long Island probably doesn't come to mind as a vital wine region but our Best-of-Appellation tasting proved to be a wake up call to Long Island Merlot. Really. Not just okay Merlot. Truly world class wines. Who would have thought?
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Although winegrowing records for the South Fork of Long Island date to colonial times, it was not until 1979 that the first commercial plantings of vinifera varieties took place. This peninsula, commonly called "The Hamptons", is about 54 miles long and ranges from just one-half mile to 10 miles wide, with Atlantic Ocean influence ever at hand. Despite being next door to each other, there are notable differences between the South Fork and the warmer North Fork. The South Fork is more exposed to onshore Atlantic breezes, delaying bud-break by as much as three weeks. Even after bud-break, the area is frequently foggy, keeping early season temperatures and sunshine hours lower than on the North Fork. By the end of the growing season, the seemingly subtle weather differences between the Forks add up to quite different overall climates. The Hamptons are generally very cold to moderately cool, while the North Fork is moderately cool to relatively warm. The damper silt and loam soils of The Hamptons, along with climactic differences, create a unique style, with wines from The Hamptons generally being more restrained and less fruit forward than wines from the North Fork.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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Best of Appellation
See the best wines of
Hamptons Long Island
BLUE BOOK PROFILES
Blue Book Taste Profiles for the Hamptons Long Island AVA
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