Long Island merlot has and always will have a place in my cellar and in my glass. I drink it a few times a week, usually with dinner. It’s dependable and consistently good — even in all but the most horrid of vintages.
For many, that’s the point. That’s why so much of it is planted in the ground and why several producers have hung their hats on a grape that isn’t very sexy these days. One local writer has gone so far as to say, “Merlots are now considered the highest expression of the Long Island appellation.”
I’m not convinced. No matter how good merlot can be — and is — other grapes can be and are just as good. Sometimes they are better. Grapes like cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and even cabernet sauvignon grown in the right years by the right people in the right places can be outstanding. In nearly every tasting of older Long Island wines I’ve taken part in, it’s the cabernet sauvignons that stand out.