The Italian and Italian-American influence on Long Island wine country
is strong. Among the thirty-plus East End producers there are ones
named Pellegrini, Pugliese, Castello di Borghese and Diliberto – and
others that are owned by people of Italian heritage, many of whom grew
up making wine with their families.

Medolla Vineyards, owned by
John and Denise Medolla, has recently joined the fray with its first
release, this 2002 Merlot. Medolla Vineyards operates under a tenant
winery license at Lenz Winery. Basically, Lenz Winery serves as a host
winery and Medolla uses the facilities when Lenz isn’t using them. Lenz
winemaker Eric Fry also serves as the consultant winemaker.

John and Denise work in the aviation industry, but their family has
winemaking roots that can be traced to the base of Italy’s Mount
Vesuvius. John’s grandparents were winemakers from the nearby town of
Torre Del Greco. "My family used the Piedi Rosso ("red foot") grape and
as legend has it, the Moscato grape as well."

One of the
smallest producers in the region, the Medollas – who share winemaking
duties – have an annual production of just 500 cases, and will focus on
selling their wines to fine restaurants and select wine shops.

any vineyard holdings of their own, the Medollas hand harvest grapes
from local vineyards. The grapes for this wine came from Dzugas
Vineyards but since then, the Medollas have been working with Sam
McCullough of McCullough Vineyards (and Lenz).

This first
release is a great example of classic Long Island Merlot that straddles
that line between Old and New World, with a little rustic edge to it.
The nose offers tobacco aromas along with raspberry and cherry fruit.
Medium bodied, the flavors are similar to the nose with some minty,
eucalyptus nuances and well-incorporated, ripe tannins. Well balanced
with a nicely long finish, this is a wine worth seeking out and a
relative bargain in a market with sometimes-insane prices.