2006 Shalestone Vineyards Merlot, New York
Important things first - there's no such thing as a New York appellation in the U.S. The reason it says New York is because this wine is made from a blend of grapes from the Finger Lakes and Long Island. This is an abomination in wine. Just not right - it's perfectly proper to blend different varietals, or different parcels, or different vineyards, but from two completely different areas? Abomination. It's like trying to get a human to mate with a gorilla. Just not right.
I visited this winery last year, when I went down to the Finger Lakes. Rob Thomas is certainly one of the more interesting wine characters I've ever met, with a healthy dose of craziness and recklessness with respect to accepted conventions. He produces only red wines - the winery's motto is, aptly, Red is all we do.
This merlot was not my choice. I found Rob's cabernet franc to be absolutely incredible - great density and concentration, but with a freshness and varietal character that you don't find in a lot of American wines. Anyways, with respect to this merlot - not a good example of what Rob can do. Besides the absolute fraud of sourcing fruit from Long Island, the wine just doesn't feel genuine.
The wine has a light red sheen, which is a good sign. Listed alcohol of 12.9%. Nose of confected fruit, candied strawberry, creaminess from the oak, and a developing graphite minerality. Oak overwhelms the fruit, which isn't fresh to begin with. On the palate, the elements just don't marry well together. It's at once insipid and overripe, sweet and bitter. Just doesn't work.
Not a good wine. Which is disappointing, because I really like Rob. The bottle of cabernet franc is still resting in the cellar - I have a feeling it won't let me down.