By Lenn Thompson, Editor and Publisher

Eric Asimov, chief wine critic for New York Times, has long been interested in Long Island wine, particularly Long Island merlot. He has previously said that Long Island makes some of the best merlot in America.

In his column this week, he writes about a recent visit to Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, NY. It's a great piece that I think accurately depicts the winery's place in the Long Island wine world. It will come as no surprise to many of my fellow wine bloggers (the ones who came to TasteCamp anyway) that one of the wines Eric singled out for mention was the 2007 cabernet franc. He also mentions the 2007 cabernet sauvignon and the 2008 Coalesence, which I liked but didn't love.

Perhaps even more interesting was Eric's companion blog post about Long Island merlot, a grape that underwhelmed some during TasteCamp. In the post, he mentions many of the producers I'd put at the top of the heap (and there is a heap of merlot grown and made out here), but two things he said struck me as worthy of mention here:

"…the North Fork of Long Island is one of the few places in this
country that merlot makes a wine of distinctive character."

It's funny, as I read and re-read this line, I came to realize that I probably can't argue for or against this statement. Obviously I enjoy many Long Island merlots, but the fact is, I drink a lot of them, and frequently, and drink very little merlot from other regions in the United States. I can say that I tend to prefer the local wines and do notice characteristics that seem uniquely Long Island, but I don't think I've tasted enough other regions to be sure. Still, Eric's comments fly in the face of what some have said.

"The history of Long Island winemaking is still far too brief to know
exactly what will flourish best there. For now, the more
experimentation, the better."

This just made me smile when I read it. And not because Eric Fry, the winemaker and quote machine from The Lenz Winery is quoted right after saying "I’m being very vocal that I don’t want Long Island to specialize. The market will
tell us what doesn’t work. We already know that zinfandel doesn’t work. For now, let’s have diversity! It’s more fun.’’

No, I smiled because if you read through the quick interviews I did with TasteCamp attendees, particularly the responses to the question "What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?" you'll see a few different answers, which certainly supports the idea of diversity. Everything from merlot, to cab franc to chenin blanc to sauvignon blanc to petit verdot was called out by the bloggers. I'd probably throw malbec into the fray as well, although we didn't taste any during TasteCamp.

One grape that was NOT mentioned by bloggers or by Eric Asimov though was chardonnay. Stay tuned for more on that though. I'm working on a post that will explore that grows-anywhere grape.