By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Sherwoodhouse_05merlot Sherwood House Vineyards 2005 Merlot ($25) shows classic Long Island merlot aromas of black raspberry and black cherry, hints of tobacco leaf and dried thyme, toasty oak and and earthy undercurrent.

Made by Gilles Martin, this medium-to-full bodied merlot offers both fresh and dried cherry flavors with underlying tobacco and dried herb character. There is a dose of toasty oak here too. It's almost too much, but ultimately doesn't cross the line, spicing the wine rather than overwhelming it.

The tannins are of medium intensity and are well integrated. Acidity brings a certain freshness. Earthy and dried cherry notes re-emerge on the medium-long finish.

Producer: Sherwood House Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 12.5%
Price: $25*
Rating: 88