Clovis By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

There are a surprisingly large number of people who email me — usually at least once a year — telling me that it's time once again for their next trip to Long Island wine country.

I've come to understand their palates to varying degrees, so I can usually point them to wines and wineries that I'm particularly excited about at the time their emails come in.

Inevitably they want to know if there is a new or new-to-them winery that they have to check out.

Of late, my answer has been "Yes." The winery? Clovis Point.

Clovis Point isn't exactly new. They opened in late 2006, but they have steadily worked their way into my recommendations list.

This is mostly a red wine house — with two chardonnay bottlings available as well — and the merlots over-deliver.

Clovis Point 2005 Merlot ($25), is ripe but not overly so on the nose with sweet red cherry and red raspberry fruit layered with thyme and sage herbal notes, a bit of sweet cedar and a earthy and savory mushroom quality, probably the result of 20% cabernet franc in the cuvee.

On the medium-bodied palate, the primary fruit takes a half-step backwards so that flavors of earth, tobacco, roasted nuts and dried herbs take center stage. The sweet cherry and dried cranberry flavors are right there too.

Dry and a bit rustic, with slightly astringent tannins this wine is one that shows good balance and length, finishing on a dried autumn leaf note.

On the second and third day opens, earthy and spicy qualities really emerge as the fruit begins to fade.

Producer: Clovis Point
AVA: North Fork
ABV: 13%
Price: $25*
Rating: 88

(*Ratings Guide)