Home-turned-professional winemaker  Jim Waters owns one of Long Island's smallest wineries — it's the storage/bay area behind his tasting room in a small industrial strip mall in Cutchogue. Jim, through his wines and through his personality, helps his small winery stand next to the big boys of Long Island wine.

2006 was a so-so year for most growers, but this Waters Crest Winery 2006 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc ($35) doesn't show any of the barely or underripe flavors some 2006s I've tasted present. 16 months aging in new French oak probably helps in that regard.

Dark crimson red in the glass, this 100% cabernet franc displays ripe red raspberry aromas with tobacco leaf, star anise and vanilla on a true-to-the-variety effusive nose that fills the room quickly.

The oak is much more apparent on the medium-bodied palate. The same intense, ripe black and red raspberry fruit flavors are there, but they are hidden a bit behind young, still-raw oak flavors and vanilla. The tannins are ripe, though more significant than usually found in Long Island cabernet franc, and the finish is spicy, earthy and long, ending on a licorice note.

This is a wine that I'd like to taste again in a year or two. If the oak smooths out and takes a half-step back so that the fruit and secondary flavors can shine, this wine could really impress.

Producer: Waters Crest Winery
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%
Price: $35
Rating: 25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)
(Ratings Guide)