Wolffer_06pinotnoirRoman Roth, winemaker at Wolffer Estate is perhaps best known for the wines he crafts from merlot, including the $125 Wolffer Estate Premier Cru and the wines he makes under his own label, Grapes of Roth. I've also lauded Roman fort he great things he does with the chardonnay grape.

But, as much as I enjoy those wines, I think some of the other wines he makes are under-appreciated, including this Wolffer Estate 2006 Pinot Noir ($35).

As we all know, pinot noir can be difficult both in the vineyard and in the cellar. They don't call it the ‘heartbreak grape’ for nothing. Add Long Island’s humidity and inconsistent weather from year to year to the equation and you almost wonder why wineries even bother. I know of at least one winery that doesn't anymore, growing pinot only for sparkling wine nowadays.

But it most years, Wolffer Estate makes a varietal pinot table wine, and it's often among the region's best.

If you're a lover of fleshy, syrah-oaked pinot from California, you should look elsewhere.

Lively, bright bright cherry and cranberry aromas are backed by hints of baking spice, cigar box and dried herbs on an alluring nose that evolves and changes throughout the course of the evening.

Medium-light bodied, the palate is fronted by cherry and juicy cranberry flavors with a smoky, spicy and savory quality beneath that kept me going back for sip after sip. I take my time with the wines I review, but I took even more time with this one. The long, balanced finish has just a hint of leaf tobacco along with sweet red cherry flavor. With fresh acidity and light, fine-grained tannins, this is a wine that shines brightest at the dinner table. And isn't that where wine is meant to be, anyway?

Producer: Wolffer Estate
AVA: The Hamptons, Long Island
ABV: 13%
Rating:   35
(3.5 out of 5 | Very good-to-Delicious) 

(Ratings Guide)