Most winemakers talk about how their wines are "made in the vineyard" and about how they let the grapes make the decisions for them in the winery. Not all of them actually practice what they preach though. Some local winemakers seem to impose their will on their wines, regardless of vintage. Having a consistent "house style" is one thing, but sometimes you need to take a step back and not overwhelm the fruit.

Eric Fry, winemaker at Lenz Winery, is one winemaker who follows the fruit's lead. In the best vintages, he goes for it, making some of Long Island's best wines. But in cooler years, he takes a step back and makes simpler, softer wines that are still delicious. Best of all, Lenz prices these cooler-year wines very well.

Lenz Winery's 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) is a prime example. Cabernet doesn't always reach its ripeness potential on Long Island, even in the best years. 2004 was a relatively cool year, so the ripeness just wasn't there. But, rather than try to make a 'reserve' wine, Fry made this easy drinking, every day-style red.

Many cabernet lovers may not recoginize this as cabernet. It's light with cherry, strawberry and vanilla aromas on the nose. Soft and a bit juicy on the attack, the palate brings simple cherry and cranberry flavors with understated toasty oak and light tannins. The finish is medium-short with hints strawberry.

Producer: Lenz Winery
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Price: $15
Rating: 25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)
(Ratings Guide)