Long Island Wine Country: Lenz Winery

After a great visit to Shinn Estate Vineyards, I was really looking forward to exploring other wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.

Next up: Lenz.  Founded in 1978, the winery has some of the oldest vines in the region.

Lenz’s tasting room is located along Route 25 in Peconic.  It resembles Shinn’s cozy barn, but on a larger scale.

The first wine I tried was the 2005 Gewürztraminer ($20).  Made in the Alsatian style, it’s nice and dry with flavors of pineapple, ginger and clove.

My favorite of their whites (and one of my favorite white wines of the day), was the 2005 White Label Chardonnay ($12).  Brilliant golden yellow in color, this wine has subtle floral aromas that are reminiscent of a Burgundian Chardonnay rather than a California Chardonnay. On the palate is a lively mix of citrus and tropical flavors.  Lemon, pineapple, banana and a hint of orange blossom are enhanced by a good acidity.  The finish is clean and refreshing.  I actually preferred this Chardonnay over the oaked Gold Label Chardonnay, which happens to cost more.  Read my full review of the 2005 White Label Chardonnay.

Lenz’s red wines are a nice introduction to Long Island reds.  More nuanced in flavor than their western counterparts, Long Island red wines display more feminine characteristics.  These wines tend to be delicate, round and smooth, rather than strong and powerful.  As a West Coast comparison, think Columbia Valley, not the Napa Valley.

The 2001 Estate Selection Merlot ($23) displays these feminine characteristics with its silky flavors of black cherry and plum.  For a less expensive version try the 2004 Merlot ($15).  It’s slightly less complex but still has warm flavors of plum, cranberry and cherry.  The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) is on the lighter side but quite nice, with notes of strawberry, cranberry and rose.

Lenz has several “old vines” wines (including the well-structured plummy 2001 Merlot), that are only available to members of their subscriber program.  Another bonus of joining the program: you can spend a weekend at the cottage on the vineyard each year for free.  I’m still mulling over the offer.

For more information about Lenz Winery visit lenzwine.com.