By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief


I'm intrigued by the malbec grape's potential on the North Fork. It seems to do quite well here and makes some great wines.

In fact, it may only be held back by the limited amount that is planted and grown, as most growers only have a small bit planted for use in blending.

Malbec bottled on its own is a relatively new thing on Long Island. The first one I remember seeing was from 2004. But, Wineries like Macari Vineyards and Raphael have done some really nice varietal bottlings that both show typical malbec character and a distinctly Long Island flavor that is much more akin to an Old World expression than the Argentine one.

At least new malbecs were bottled in 2007, one by Martha Clara Vineyards (coming soon) and this Shinn Estate Vineyards 2007 Malbec ($35/500ml).

The nose is dark, almost brooding with dense black fruit — blackberry, blueberry — accented by black licorice, black tea, subtle floral character and a decidedly earthy note.

Big on the palate, its earthy and concentrated with chewy dark fruit flavors with light vanilla oak nuance and a chocolate-mint note on the end of a medium-length finish. The tannins are ripe and of medium intensity, with more structure provided by the kind of fresh acidity I tend to like in my reds.

$35 for what amounts to two-thirds of a regular bottle isn't cheap, but they only made 110 cases, so it's more about scarcity than anything else. It's not released yet, but should be in coming months. It's definitely worth trying in the tasting room. I like it just a bit less than the 2007 cabernet franc.

Producer: Shinn Estate Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13.9%

Production: 110 cases

Price: $35* (500ml)
Rating: 40
(4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive

(Ratings Guide)