Living on Long Island, I drink a fair amount of merlot. It’s every where you look in wine country — literally and figuratively. I don’t need to look north to the Finger Lakes for merlot. And honestly, I don’t. Merlot is well down the list of what I’m looking for in the Finger Lakes.

In fact, it’s probably not on the list at all.

That brings us to Red Newt Cellars 2008 Glaciers Ridge Vineyards Merlot ($45), a wine that I decided to write up for Wine Blogging Wednesday #75, hosted by Joe Roberts of 1WineDude.

The theme? “Singles Night” — focusing on single-vineyard wines.

Just a handful of years ago, I wouldn’t have had that many options for single-vineyard wines in New York. But that’s all changed in recent years, with Red Newtembracing it as much as anyone.

That all being said — $45 merlot? From the Finger Lakes? From 2008 — a cooler year?

Yes. Believe it. I don’t know Glaciers Ridge Vineyards well, but clearly they have a special site on their hands.

The complex nose show blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit with a sprinkling of cardamom, sumac, black pepper and apparent but not over-whelming smoky oak that hints at both vanilla and chocolate.

Medium-to-full bodied, the palate shows unusual concentration for this grape in this region, and balances intensity and richness with lively freshness, showing ripe, bright berry and plum fruit with nuances of spice, tarragon and violets. Medium-light tannins are velvety and smooth, framing the flavors nicely.

The oak is there, sure, but it’s pretty well integrated, only peeking out alone and a bit raw just a bit on the finish.

I haven’t tasted every merlot from the Finger Lakes, but it’s difficult to imagine one that is much better than this one. Very well done.

Producer: Red Newt Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 13.7%  
Price: $45*


(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)