By Lenn Thompson, Editor in Chief

Merliance-2006 Regional Wine Week continues today with a review of the Long Island Merlot Alliance's latest release, Merliance 2006 ($35)

Formed in 2005, the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA) strives to develop quality standards in the production of classically-styled Long Island merlot and to establish Long Island as the leading region for merlot in the New World. 

After an initial press splash, the group has been somewhat understated, choosing to focus on vineyard research and conducting tastings to identify the qualities that help define "typical" Long Island merlot.

In March, founding members Raphael, Pellegrini Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards, and Wolffer Estate Vineyard, welcomed Clovis Point to the group. More recently Castello di Borghese and McCall Vineyard joined.

Together, the members co-produce a 100% merlot wine each year, named Merliance. This is the third such release and is one of the wines that has inspired an upcoming post about "bad year" wines. As I've mentioned before, 2006 wasn't a great vintage for reds on Long Island. The growing season was cooler than average, it was overcast a lot and it rained more than usual. But that doesn't mean anyone should write off the entire region for the entire year.

This merlot is a prime example. It's a classic Long Island merlot that hearkens back to the style that was the norm before before hot 2005 and 2007 years came along, potentially marking a stylistic shift (time will tell).

Complex and layered, the nose shows nice red cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit sprinkled with a generous array of fresh herbs — thyme, mint and lavender — a little baking spice, leather and a soft vanilla note. 

Medium bodied with understated fruit, the palate has flavors that closely match the nose with a faint eucalyptus note added to the herb salad. The tannins are well incorporated and relatively light with light acidity bringing just a bit more structure. The leathery spice is a bit more pronounced on day two and steps forward on the longer-than-expected finish.

Many will probably want a bit more upfront fruit, but to me this is an deliciously elegant classic Long Island merlot from a cool vintage.

Producer: Long Island Merlot Alliance
ABV: 13%
Rating: 35 (3.5 out of 5 | Very good-to-Delicious)

(Ratings Guide)