The Long Island Merlot Alliance has sponsored a summer intern to do local Merlot research during the 2007 vintage. The intern, Christopher Grassotti, is a student in the Masters degree program in viticulture and enology at Ecole Nationale Supérieur Agronomique in Montpellier, France.

In his work for LIMA, he will be working closely with LIMA members, Viticultural Research Program Leader Alice Wise, and others at Cornell University. He will focus on defining the dominant and strongly identifiable aroma/ profile of Long Island merlot and identifying the differences found in other quality wine regions. This will allow specific analysis, in the future, of these identified components. Aroma and tasting workshops are being held weekly over the summer to help achieve these goals.

“I am interested in helping better refine our understanding of those elements of climate, soil and vineyard management that help produce the wine grapes with the highest winemaking potential, especially taking into account the particular conditions found here on Long Island,” states Grassotti.

Mr. Grassotti is also working on vineyard research with regard to leaf removal techniques on merlot. The research will focus on timing and severity of leaf removal and how both relate to wine quality. The experiment is being done in conjunction with a project led by new Cornell University Viticulturist Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel. It is the first experiment in 20 years on Long Island that directly involves Cornell viticulture faculty.

I just heard about all of this this morning, but I’ll be speaking to Mr. Grassotti soon I hope. Stay tuned for more information. I’m just glad to see LIMA being publicly active again–haven’t heard much from them lately.