Lambardo 2005 By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

It's raining outside this morning and it's supposed to do so on and off for the next few days.

With rain arriving just as the red wine harvest was about to begin, it's hard not to remember 2005 when some local vineyards were soaked with twenty-plus inches of rain over the course of eight days — after a near-perfect summer.

We're not getting that kind of rain this week, but growers and winemakers are still spending a lot of time watch weather reports and staring doppler radar.

I've found 2005 reds inconsistent and the variation often related to when the fruit was picked. Some stopped picking whites to get at least some reds in before the storm hit. Others rode the storm out and were the beneficiaries of brisk, drying winds in the days after the storm passed.

Those who were able to persevere through the storm best made the best wines, like this Wolffer Estate 2005 "Lambardo" Merlot ($35), made from fruit picked on October 17 and 18.

Intense and ripe on the nose, this blend of 77% merlot, 18% cabernet franc and 5% cabernet sauvignon, shows blackberry and black cherry scents with hints of fig, chocolate-covered blueberries and an earthy-graphite edge.

Mouth-filling and plump — but with good structure — the palate is dominated by dark, brooding fruit with layers of cocoa bean, wet earth, fig and well-integrated, toasty oak. Balanced acidity and ripe, round tannins point to good development in the cellar and give way to a lengthy, supple finish of fruit and fig.

By the way, this is more or less the wine that used to be labeled "Estate Selection Merlot" before the portfolio rebranding in 2005.

Producer: Wolffer Estate Vineyards
ABV: 13.5%
AVA: The Hamptons, Long Island
Vineyard Yields: 1.3 - 1.6 tons/acre
Price: $35*
Rating: 90

(*Ratings Guide)