Paumanok Vineyards‘ “white label” merlot is often among the best values in under-$30 North Fork merlot. The Paumanok Vineyards 2010 Merlot ($28) continues that tradition with its fresh, fruity aromas of black plum and black cherry backed by high-toned floral notes and a sprinkling of grilled savory herbs.

Well-balanced and juicy, the medium-bodied palate is fruit-forward and fruit-driven. Crunchy fresh cherry qualities mingle with flavors of plum, violets, and grilled and woodsy herbs. The tannins are well integrated and round while still providing grip. A medium-long finish lingers nicely with floral and cherry skin notes.

It’s bottled under screwcap (of course) so it should be fine in your cellar for several years, but it’s tasting pretty great right now. Drink up.

Harvest Date: October 8, 11, 18, 2010
Yield: 2.5 tons/acre
Brix at Harvest: 22.8, 24.4
ABV: 14.05%
RS: 0.1%
TA: 6.78 g/l
pH: 3.42
82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon
Oak Program: 17 months in 34% new French oak, the remainder in neutral French oak barrels
Production: 533 cases
Release Date: September 1, 2013

(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)