Long Island’s 2005 vintage was one for the record books–on a couple fronts. There was the rain. Some vineyard locations received
17 inches of rain an eight-day period–an eight-day period that
happened to coincide with with the grape harvest.

Most of the white
grapes has come in already, but most reds had not.

And there were the near-drought
before the rain (less than two inches over three months). Those conditions
led to smaller-than-usual fruit and some of the most intense fruit
ripness in Long Island’s short wine-producing history.

Those 17 inches of
rain wreaked havoc and several vineyards sustained a
lot of damage. But, those lucky enough to survive, or patient enough to
wait for everything to dry out after the rain stopped, will soon be releasing some of the
region’s best reds ever.

In fact, Bedell Cellars has already released its 2005 Reserve
Merlot ($40)
  And, despite its youth, the intensity of the
vintage demands attention.

Loads of blackberry preserve, fresh
fig and cafe mocha aromas reach right up out of the glass and pull you
in. Big, lush blackberry flavors fill the mouth, with rich chocolate
and a little vanilla in the background. The extracted, broad flavors carry through from beginning to end. The structure is a little firm and this wine is very full-bodied for the region and the finish is lengthy, if just slightly astringent.

This wine is a little
one-dimensional right now. In fact, it really isn’t showing much of what makes Long Island wines unique and delicious. But with time, I expect the tannins to
mellow revealing those layers of complexity and secondary aromas and flavors. In three to five years, when other wineries are just
releasing their 05s, this wine could be a classic.

Grape(s): Merlot
Producer: Bedell Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Price: $40.00