May Wine of the Month: 2017 Merlot
With the warm weather upon us we cannot get enough of this Merlot! While the days are getting warmer we are still enjoying cooler nights and I for one have found myself repeatedly grabbing a glass of Merlot to enjoy in the backyard by the fire. Something about the rich fruit notes and soft finish makes it the perfect compliment to the warm days turned cool nights.
Our 2017 T'Jara Merlot is fruity and luscious and everything you want in a red wine this time of year! Made in the classic old-world style, the 2017 Merlot is medium to full bodied with ripe red fruit notes of raspberry and cranberry mixed with dark notes of blueberry, blackberry and plum. Lush and round with fine tannins this easy red sipper pairs beautifully with food and stands up nicely on its own!
Keep an eye on the Blog for a few fun "Cooking with Suhru" recipes coming out soon!
Why Is Merlot So Prolific on the North Fork?
Merlot is the most widely planted variety on the East End of Long Island. This varietal flourishes in our cool climate region and ripens mid harvest, usually in the second or third week of October. Being one of the earlier ripening reds planted out here means that the fruit ripens and is harvested prior to most of the major weather events that threaten the crop, think hurricanes and early frosts.
In a hotter region this variety loses its sweet fruit aromatics and mid palate fullness. Due to the hotter temperatures the fruit ripens more rapidly resulting in higher sugar content in the grapes which leads to higher alcohol in the wine which overwhelms the tannic structure of the varietal.
While you can grow Merlot in a variety of different regions (it is the second most widely planted grape variety on the globe), it is well established that the Bordeaux region in France is growing some of the best Merlot. If you take a closer look at the Bordeaux region, you may notice that we on Long Island are located on almost the same latitude meaning that we have a very similar climate, weather patterns, and growing conditions making us an excellent region to grow Merlot.
A Closer Look at the Vineyard
Our 2017 Merlot is made under our T'Jara label. T'Jara is the phonetic spelling of an Aboriginal word that means "place where I am from". For all of our T'Jara wines, they are grown at a dedicated vineyard in Mattituck which is located on an elevated, south facing parcel of land. This is an important feature as south facing land means that the vines get more direct sun exposure during the day leading to better grape development. In addition, the elevated nature of this piece of land in relation to the surrounding properties allows for good wind and air flow throughout the growing season.
When it comes to vineyard management air flow is key. Particularly on the North Fork where we tend to get humid and wet days during the growing season, the ample air flow ensures that the humidity does not collect around the vines which would lead to added disease pressure and rot.
In the 2017 vintage, we saw a warm growing season with a very dry Harvest period, which is what you want in the vineyard. Grape vines are one of the few crops that like a little drought pressure. Grape vines like well drained soil so for a grape grower, a dry spell is ideal because we can turn on our irrigation and control the amount of water the vines receive. In addition to the daytime weather, in 2017 the Fall evenings in the weeks leading up to harvesting in early October saw lower than normal temperatures which allowed for
longer 'hang time' on the vine before picking which resulted in the very expressive fruitiness of this wine.
Want to learn more about this vintage? Checkout our 2017 Merlot!