Pellegrini_05cfBy Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

As good as local cabernet franc can be, it's not easy to define the "typical Long Island expression" of my favorite red wine grape. At this point in the region's growth, there are nearly as many styles of cabernet franc here as there are wineries producing them.

Some wineries make their cabernet franc without any oak at all — while others use lots of newer wood to cover up and mask the telltale "green" character of the grape. Some wineries try to keep their franc juicy with nice acidity while others strive for a richer, more dense style. Blending choices — merlot, cabernet sauvignon, etc. — add another variable.

Pellegrini Vineyards tends to fall somewhere in the middle — bringing a dose of oak character in most years without overwhelming cabernet franc's varietal character.

Their current release, Pellegrini Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Franc ($20) fits that house style perfectly.

The nose is dominated by red cherry and raspberry fruit — but with a distinct layer of menthol and eucalyptus over top and a distant aroma of vanilla. A subtle earthiness — particularly after it's been open for a day — lingers in the background.

Tart cherry flavors are backed by more menthol and spice, framed by a firm, almost-rustic combination of tannins and acidity on the first day of tasting, with a medium finish of black pepper, vanilla and earth.

On day two, some of those rough edges smoothed out significantly, but by day three, it just wasn't holding up.

Producer: Pellegrini Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%
Price: $20*
Rating: 85

(*Ratings Guide)