It’s rare that one can go buy a fully mature Long Island wine right off the shelf, but Medolla Vineyards offers that opportunity with the current release Medolla Vineyards 2004 Merlot ($19). Yes. 2004. Current. Release.
The Medolla wines are made at Lenz Winery under the watchful eye of Lenz winemaker Eric Fry. The 2002 was one of the most underrated merlots on the North Fork when it was released and the 2007 was a killer value a few years ago when it hit shelves.
The 2004 — no doubt given extra time in bottle to even out some of the rustic edges — offers a great lesson in mature North Fork merlot. Most of the black cherry fruit aromas have faded, with scents of loamy earth, dried thyme, graphite and spice box taking their place.
The palate is similarly mature in terms of flavor. It almost lacks fruit completely, with all of those secondary and tertiary notes leading the way — spice, resin-y pine/eucalyptus, cola and loam. The medium-intensity tannins are edgy and rustic. Sweet red cherry peeks in at the end of the medium-long finish.