In most months, I pick two wines from two different wineries (and often from two differnet AVAs) This time, I picked two wines from the same winery, Lenz Winery on Long Island's North Fork.
With the holidays coming up, I wanted to send two different types of wine — one that members can open at a party (affordably) and just simply enjoy drinking and one that was a bit more serious and ready for a celebratory meal. A recent visit to Lenz brought both wines to the table…
For casual drinking, we have Lenz Winery's 2005 White Label Chardonnay ($11), which might be the best $11 white wine on Long Island. It's fermented in 100% stainless steel and doesn't see any oak in its production, which helps preserve the nice fruit flavors (pineapple, apple and lemon). There is plenty of acidity here to keep it lively but it's surprisingly aromatic and mouth-filling for a stainless chardonnay, which can be lean and tart.
Across Long Island, many wineries are releasing their 2005 (or even 2006) merlots. Our second wine is from the tremendous 2001 vintage and it shows a nice blend of the ripeness that year provided but also the extra bottle age. When I re-tasted it blind, Lenz Winery's 2001 Estate Merlot ($23) almost fooled me as a Bordeaux. There is just a bit more fruit on the attack here and softer tannins throughout. This is a wine that expertly balances ripe fruit, oak and earthy spice.