Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Raphael 2006


2006 "Grand Cru" Chardonnay Reserve
(North Fork of Long Island)

When it comes to his white wines, Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Raphael, typically eschews oak to preserve the natural flavors of the grapes. Both his stainless steel Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are perennial favorites and welcome warm-weather sippers.

But, after a 2006 growing season that was cooler than 2005 and that was marked by a lot of overcast days and higher-than-average levels of rain, Rich decided to make his first barrel-fermented Chardonnay at Raphael. He didn't make much though, only four new French barrels worth. All told, the wine spent five months in those barrels. He stirred the lees every week and the wine completed malolactic fermentation in barrel. It was bottled unfiltered and unfined.

This is still an extremely young wine, so it wasn't too surprising that the nose was taut at first, not wanting to give up much. But, as it warmed a bit and I swirled it in the glass, light lemony-citrus aromas mingled with minerally salt air, a faint floral note. The oak is barely perceptible on the nose with only the slightest hint of vanilla.

The medium-bodied palate is a bit Chablis-like to me, rather than the richer Burgundian style many local winemakers shoot for. The flavors range from lemon zest to tangerines to green apple with minerals in the background and, again, just the faintest oak character, which comes through as vanilla and toffee. Plenty of acidity provides structure and keeps the wine lively. The finish lingers and is lightly tart. This wine's best days are certainly ahead, but it's drinking well now too.

Reviewed June 30, 2008 by Lenn Thompson.

The Wine

Winery: Raphael
Vintage: 2006
Wine: "Grand Cru" Chardonnay Reserve
Appellation: North Fork of Long Island
Grape: Chardonnay
Price: 750ml $25.00

Review Date: 6/30/2008

The Reviewer

Lenn Thompson

Lenn Thompson writes about New York wines for Dan's Papers,
Long Island Press, Long Island Wine Gazette, Edible East End
and Two words describe his taste in wine — balance and nuance. Lenn prefers food-friendly, elegant wines to jammy, over-extracted fruit bombs and heavy-handed oak. When reviewing, Lenn tastes each wine three times — alone right after opening, with food, and again the next day — believing that 90-second reviews are unrealistic and not how the average person enjoys wine.