I’ve been tasting a lot of Long Island rose over the past few weeks — both because it’s the season and because I was researching a story that will be published in the Long Island Wine Press next month.

Like any category, Long Island rose is always a mixed bag. There are wines that you know will always be good, regardless of vintage. There are wines you always want to be good, but underwhelm. And then there are the wines that surprise you — either in a good or bad way.

Harbes Vineyard 2014 Dry Rose ($18) was a pleasant surprise in a lineup of tank samples with clean, high-toned red berry fruit on the nose with a subtle sprinkling of dried thyme. Fruity with more red fruit but also a squirt of ruby red grapefruit, the palate is at once soft and juicy with a faint spicy edge on the end of a surprisingly long finish.

Why was it a pleasant surprise? Only because it’s 100% merlot. Usually I find those tasty enough, but a bit simple and occasionally flabby.

Producer: Harbes Vineyard
North Fork of Long Island
Price: $18 (sample)

(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)