By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Paumanok-07-merlotPaumanok Vineyards' "regular" merlot bottling, informally known as the "white label merlot" is one of Long Island's most values — particularly from warmer, dryer years (think 2005 and 2007 recently).

No, at $24, it won't satisfy those who lament the region's lack of $15 standouts, but know this: it over-delivers for that $24.

The nose is ripe and complex, showing fruit aromas of black cherry, plum and cassis as well as notes of dried autumn leaves and dried thyme.

Medium-bodied and at once ripe and lithe, the palate delivers fruit flavors that closely match the nose — ranging from bright, almost crunch red berry to tobacco leaf to black currant. The tannins are gripe and well-integrated, bringing nice grip and structure without angularity or astringency.

A minty eucalyptus note at the end of along finish makes you go back for another sip, just to taste it again.

It probably has enough stuffing to improve for three to five years, but it's tasting beautifully today.

Producer: Paumanok Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13% 
Price: $24

(4 out of 5 | Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)


(*Ratings Guide)