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During a girls’ weekend to Long Island’s Hamptons, an engaging real estate agent on an adjoining bar stool urged me to do two important things to enrich my life: One was to refinance my home, and the other was to order a Long Island chardonnay instead of the Stoli martini I had been contemplating. “You’ll be surprised at how good this wine is,” he said. It turns out he was right on both counts. The refinancing worked out fine, and the Channing Daughters Chardonnay was intriguing and so very un-Californian. I didn’t record my impressions, but I recall the emphasis on good clean fruit flavors and a brisk acidity. Since that evening, I have been curious to sample a larger group of Long Island wines. To that end, I recently gathered a group of people with good palates, and together we evaluated several chardonnays, merlots and sparkling wines from the region. We used a nonblind 20-point system that rates the wines on appearance (2 points), aroma (5), taste (5), balance (3), aftertaste (3) and overall impression (2). Frankly, I was surprised at the outcome. There were fewer wines to recommend than not to recommend, and at least three that fell into the altogether disheartening 10-point range. That said, the first three wines below display balance, concentration, and finesse. I look forward to another tasting, and if you’re ever on Long Island, I urge you to seek out these wines. Recommended � Martha Clara Estate Reserve 2000 Chardonnay ($18): Robert Entenmann, the son of the founder of Entenmann Baked Goods, planted grapes on his Big E ranch in 1995 with his daughter Jacqueline Entenmann Connolly, once a press assistant to then-Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y. Preferring the Burgundian style, the grapes are hand picked, and the wine is fermented and aged in small French barrels. The result is a rich and balanced wine with lovely vanilla aromas, hints of apple and a delicious buttery finish. � Lieb Family Cellars 2000 Chardonnay ($15): Fresh fruit aromas grab your attention. The vibrant acidity and clean flavors of honey, apple, pear, and pineapple are highly appealing in this medium-bodied wine. � Corey Creek 1999 Merlot ($20): A dark garnet blend of 88 percent merlot and 12 percent cabernet franc was a definite crowd pleaser. Enticing plum cherry aromas and a smoky essence precede rich cherry flavors that burst into a short but brilliant finish. Worth Another Taste � Macari Brut Non-Vintage ($21): Made from 100 percent chardonnay, this m�thode champenoise sparkling wine accentuates its acidity and delivers warm and perfectly appealing apple and yeasty aromas on a lean frame. � Lieb 1994 Blanc de Blanc ($30): This sparkling wine was made with 100 percent pinot blanc grapes, producing subtle flavors of melon and sweet grapefruit. � Raphael 1999 Merlot ($38): This winery is dedicated to merlot and has as its consultant the managing director of Chateau Margaux. Made from young vines, this medium-bodied wine is ruby colored in the glass. Ripe dark berry and juicy plum, herb, and toasty oak flavors with a taste of licorice. Aggressive tannins on the finish. � Corey Creek Reserve 1999 Chardonnay ($18): The use of new French oak barrels for both fermentation and aging lends subtle oak flavors to the core of apples and vanilla. Not Recommended � Bedell Cellars 2000 Chardonnay ($16): Proving that too much oak comes at the expense of balance and fruit flavors, this wine fell flat. � Bedell Cellars 1998 Merlot ($18): Aged 14 months in American oak and created in the Bordeaux style, this wine got under way with juicy plum aromas, but faltered when it came to the dusty aftertaste. � Macari Reserve 2000 Chardonnay ($21): Sadly, this extremely light-bodied wine elicited comments of “too watery” from the tasters. � Old Brookville Gold Coast Reserve 2000 Chardonnay ($14): Expect a light-bodied Burgundian-style texture. While the honey aromas were pleasant, the lack of complexity was a setback. Attorney Elisabeth Frater thanks Legal Times’ Tony Mauro and Bill Kisliuk, No�l Decker from Covington & Burling, attorneys Mark Zaid, and Lorraine Buc, and consultant Flynn Bucy for their contributions to this tasting.

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