Roanoke Vineyards 2015 Theory and Practice

88 points

Petit Verdot quite angular and rustic with its dual hit of high tannins and high acidity. On its own it can be a bit one-note. It’s not for everyone. But here, blended with a warm-year Merlot, those rougher, more rustic edges are smoothed out and the result is a lip-smacking red that has a charming sort of drink-now deliciousness.

It starts off with jammy blueberry and black cherry aromas with just the most subtle toasty vanilla edge (it spent 12 months in oak). More of those juicy berries greet the palate with fresh acidity and just a little gritty tannin on the back end, that was no doubt softened by the Merlot in the blend. With a little time to breathe in the glass, there is a distinct spicy earthiness that emerges and reminds you that this is, in fact, a Long Island wine. It’s not super complex, but it’s great with a burger or with other beefy fare.

For all of Long Island wine’s diversity, both in grapes and in styles, it’s rare that you find a red wine that can be considered jammy — that sensation of syrupy macerated or cooked fruit that is perhaps most apparent in Australian Shiraz and California Zinfandel. 

Anyway, you just don’t find it often here in our maritime climate. But if you like that style, Roanoke Vineyards 2015 Theory and Practice ($28) — a blend of half Merlot and half Petit Verdot — a might hit your palate the right way.

“We’ve had a tremendous run of Petit Verdot,” says Roanoke’s Scott Sandell. “Hot and dry summers are key to fully ripening this variety on the North Fork, and when it’s good … it’s great.”

For those familiar with Petit Verdot, the small-berried, late ripening member of the Bordeaux varieties, this may seem an odd blend at first, but as Sandell puts it “Petit Verdot can add serious depth in a blend, as well as terrific optics, too. It’s almost black.”

Producer: Roanoke Vineyards
Region: North Fork of Long Island AVA
ABV: 13.5%
Price: $28

About Author

Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. After running that site -- which became the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news -- for 12 years, he launched in late 2016 to add the wines of Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond to his beat. Lenn currently serves as the wine columnist for The Suffolk Times weekly newspaper and is the former editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette. He contributes or has contributed to publications like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Beverage Media, Edible Brooklyn, Edible East End and Edible Hudson Valley. Lenn served on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, an annual regional wine immersion conference for writers and trade. An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.

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