North Fork of Long Island (AVA)
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Simply Merlot Paradise
by Clark Smith
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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More Info on Long Island Wines

Bordeaux is the word that springs to mind...and palate...for many who’ve experienced the complex elegance of Long Island reds, particularly those from the North Fork where most of the island’s 3,000 acres of vineyards and 30 wineries are located. The Bordeaux comparison really isn’t so far fetched. Some attribute it to the fact that the most planted grapes on the North Fork are the Bordeaux varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but these same grapes are found in vineyards from here to California, rarely yielding the same result. What makes North Fork reds so Bordeaux-esque is the climate. Three great bodies of Gulf Stream-influenced water surround the narrow peninsula. Long Island Sound is to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and in the middle, splitting the two forks, is Peconic Bay. All three create a very moderate climate and an extended growing season that is over a month longer than other New York wine regions. However, maritime climates are susceptible to unpredictable autumn weather, and some vintages can end in a wet harvest and disappointing wines. Even this downside of the North Fork AVA rings of Bordeaux, where vintage variation has always been a fact of life and an important part of marketing.

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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.  [>] continue

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Raphael 2001 First Label Merlot Dark fruit flavors like blackberry and cassis prevail with mint, chocolate, leather and tobacco nuances.
buy wine $30.00

Raphael 2004 Merlot - Estate Soft and round yet still fruity with subtle influences of toasty oak, providing gentle tannic structure and dense mouth feel.
buy wine $16.00

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