Winemakers from Clovis Point, McCall Vineyard, Raphael, Sherwood House Vineyards, T'Jara Vineyards, and Wölffer Estate Vineyard are all members of Merliance, which is Long Island's Merlot Alliance, dedicated to focusing production on Long Island merlots, which they believe will raise the bar for wines from all varieties.
The event was hosted at Artisanal Cheese's 10th Avenue location. Wine + cheese = RSVP from LKP (and ABF and That Sara & Mike and my friend MK!) Our small group was there at 3 on the dot, where they had a pre-class cheese & wine reception. These people have my number, big-time.
They also had the 2010 Merliance (seen in first photo), a blend (and I'm quoting the Merliance site here) "consisting of two barrels of merlot, chosen to be representative of the vineyard and vintage, from each Merliance member: Clovis Point (Jamesport), McCall Wines (Cutchogue), Raphael (Peconic), Sherwood House Vineyards (Mattituck), T’Jara Vineyards (Mattituck) and Wölffer Estate Vineyard (Sagaponack)."
This won't be released until Spring 2013-- how cool to get an early taste! It's delicious, and I'm a Merlot convert! ABF was the one who convinced me to give Merlots another chance, especially Long Island ones. He's a smart guy, that ABF.
The moderator and cheese expert was Max McCalman, Arisanal's Dean of Curriculum and former Maitre Fromager at NYC's Picholine restaurant. He is the man who brought the "Cheese Clock" to Artisanal. He suggests looking at your cheese setting as a clock. Start with the mildest cheeses at the 6 o'clock setting, then work your way, deliciously, clockwise, ending with the strongest (in our case, a marvelously moldy Shaker Blue).
We tried a bunch of other cheeses with every single wine, and those sips definitely started to catch up with me. I didn't bother taking shots of every single cheese and every single glass. I just sat back and let the panel do their work while I enjoyed the liquid fruits of their labor.
The wines were so delicious that they even won over Sara & Mike, who normally avoid Merlot in general. In fact, we were teasing Sara (of NYCNomNom) for finishing ALL of her wines before the class had ended! I then finished all of mine so she wouldn't be alone (because I'm a good friend-- and those wines were delicious).
The wines were all delicious, but the Clovis Point and the T'Jara Merlots were my favorites, as was the Merliance! All were super drinkable wines I'd happily bring to any party-- or open at home any day of the week!
And go HERE for more of my visits to Long Island vineyards/wineries!