Ray Isle of Food & Wine Magazine talks Old Vines Merlot

Thanks for the social media post, Ray!


“Cool story. Back in 2006, Long Island’s Lenz Winery did a blind tasting for journalists in which their Old Vine Merlot went head-to-head against Château Petrus. (There were a heap of other Merlots in the tasting as well, I believe.) Yes, shades of the Judgment of Paris – and a format that has now become fairly common (lesser wine lined up blind against famous wine, to prove it isn’t so lesser after all). Anyway, Lenz did very well, essentially equal to the Petrus, both proving then-winemaker Eric Fry’s point and also making the Lenz wine seem a steal at $55, since Petrus at the time ran around $2500 a bottle.

Point being, I was out on the North Fork of Long Island last week, and tasted through the wines at Lenz. Winemaker Thomas Spotteck & director of sales Jerol Bailey pulled out a surprise – a bottle of the same 2001 Lenz Old Vines Merlot that fought to a draw against Petrus 15 years ago. We all tasted it, and just as you’d hope—but most people would never, ever suspect—this 20-year-old Long Island Merlot was drinking beautifully. Soft, tongue-coating tannins, aromas of dried dark cherries, black tea and forest floor, plenty of fruit still left. I mean, bravo Eric Fry. And, if there are any North Fork wine doubters out there, maybe time to start buying & cellaring some wine…! (And, by the way, the current vintage of their Old Vines Merlot is mighty darn good too.)”