By Lenn Thompson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief


Russell Hearn, winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards, partner in Premium Wine Group and founding member of the Long Island Merlot Alliance has, along with his wife Susan, launched his own label: SURU (SUsan and RUssell and as you can see, they are framed by an H for their surname)

The new line includes a pinot grigioi, a riesling a rose of shiraz and this wine, simply named "Red."

Although the have their own 17-acre vineyard in Matittuck, where they grow merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, Russell told me that their goal is to "source fruit from New York vineyards…where (grapes) are grown best." That means that his riesling was made from grapes grown in the Gold Seal vineyard on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. And some fruit from that same vineyard found its way into his pinot grigio as well.

All four wines are bottled under screwcap and are meant to be immediately approachable.

Look for review for all of these wines in coming days, but today we're going to focus on the SURU 2007 Red ($20) an intensely aromatic blend of 82% merlot, 9% petit verdot, 5% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc and 2% shiraz, all grown in the Hearn's own vineyard on the North Fork save the shiraz, which came from the Lazy Dog Vineyard in Cutchogue.

As I already mentioned, the nose is big and expressive, showing dense black cherry and blueberry aromas with hints of tobacco, spice and licorice.

The palate is similarly full-bodied, but also a bit disjointed and a bit one-dimensional right now. My notes say "Where's the fruit?" because little of the intense dark fruit character was there on day one of my tasting. Instead, the palate was showing mostly tobacco and spice flavors, was pretty tannic and even a little hot on the finish.

By day two, more of the blueberry-black cherry fruit had emerged, seeming to soften the tannins a bit. There was still a little heat on the finish however. I'd recommend decanting this one for at least a few hours.

Producer: SURU
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%
Rating:  25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(Ratings Guide)