By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Right-coast-redAs a general rule, I don’t like double entendre on wine labels. It gimmicky and usually only clever in a too-obvious or not-all-that-funny sort of way.

With the city skyline on the label, we are led to believe that the primary meaning of Lieb Family Cellars 2008 Right Coast Red ($30) relates to being made on the East Coast — right when looking at a map — versus on the West Coast, which would be Left Coast.

Given my drive to drink locally, I tend to prefer the other meaning — the meaning that seems to imply an incorrectness with the other (left) coast.

Creative proprietary names matter very little to me if the wine inside isn’t any good though. Great packaging — which this wine has, including a bright red screwcap — can’t make up for terrible wine inside the bottle.

Gladly, this isn’t a terrible wine. Not at all. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

This red qualifies as a “Bordeaux-style blend” because it’s made of merlot (45%), cabernet sauvignon (20%), cabernet franc (20%), malbec (12%) and petit verdot (3%) and I think the more important story here is the power of blending in a cooler or “lesser” vintage like 2008.

A melange of aromas, including plum, red raspberry, cassis, black pepper, lavender and violets, come together on a pretty, intriguing nose. It signals a cool vintage, but it doesn’t lack ripeness.

Juicy on the palate, it’s fruity at first — mostly plum, black berry and cherry — before more of that spicy pepper character emerges on the mid-palate with the faintest dried herb quality on the finish. Medium bodied, with medium-light tannins but subtlety fresh acidity, it’s well balanced and is the kind of wine that will remind you what Long Island reds can be in more “normal” years after a day of tasting 2007s.

I wish it were $20-25 but $30 isn’t completely out of line for the quality.

Producer: Lieb Family Cellars
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13.3%
Price: $30*
Rating: 86

(*Ratings Guide)