You’ve heard all about Long Island merlot, but what about the Malbec? Merlot might rule this over-grown sand bar, but Malbec, the large, easy-to-ripen black grape best known as Argentina’s premier variety, is showing surprising potential in Long Island’s maritime environment.

It has been grown, and used, on Long Island for quite some time—usually ending up as a minor component in Bordeaux-style red blends. But now, as Long Island vintners continue to experiment with grapes and techniques, varietal Malbec bottlings are becoming available.

Macari Vineyards
in Mattituck released its 2005 Malbec ($22) a couple months ago and it’s impressive.

It’s a bold, flavorful wine and the ripeness of the 2005 vintage is apparent. It’s loaded with intense black plum and black pepper aromas. The palate is rich and slightly meaty with more plum, pepper and a slightly juicy note on the mid-palate. The finish lingers nicely with a hint of spice. This wine signals the arrival of Malbec on the North Fork. It will be interesting to see how quickly local producers start doing even more exciting things with this grape.

In the meantime, get a few bottles of this and try it will char-grilled steak this summer.