Floral Terranes Merlot 2019: North Fork, Long Island, New York

Grapes: Merlot

Region/History Notes: Yes, you saw that correctly! This wine is from Long Island, New York! Long Island used to be the agricultural backbone of Manhattan and the producers here at Floral Terranes are reviving the farming heritage of the region with a focus on wine.

Just a Note on Winemaking: Let’s talk about “whole cluster” and what it means. Many times, grapes are removed from the stems before fermentation because the skins and seeds of the grapes have enough tannins as it is. Extracting the tannins from the stems of the grape clusters can be too much. So bolder varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah rarely use whole cluster fermentation. Softer varieties that need the extra backbone will sometimes do partial whole cluster- where some vats are the whole grape clusters and others are the grapes removed from the stems. Other times, as in this case, producers will ferment their wines fully whole cluster so none of the berries have been removed from the stems. These all go into big fermenters (tanks of some sort) during the fermentation process. The juice that comes from the berries sinks to the bottom and the clusters rise to the top. To make sure the clusters on top are not drying out and have the ability to impart their flavor to the wine, producers will punch down the grapes into the bottom of the tank- usually with a big steel rod that has a sort of plate attached to the bottom. Some producers think that the steel punch down breaks the skins of the grape too aggressively so they opt for a softer approach…. the human body! Traditionally, wine grapes were stomped to break apart the berries and stir the must during fermentation. Some winemakers still opt for this method. In fact, it’s what I did in Oregon for harvest last year! Don’t be turned off, it’s a sterile process and can make for some really beautiful and elegant wines.

Tasting Notes: This is a funky wine- and no, it’s not because it was stomped by foot! The wine has some wild components to the aroma, mouthfeel, and texture. Dried floral notes with cranberry, red plums, and loads of baking spices. I recommend serving it closer to 65 degrees and decanting for about an hour to let the fruit aromatics come through the funky nose.