Saturday, November 10, 2007


I often don’t write from the perspective of an insider, because I have been an outsider, though a somewhat knowledgeable on, for many years. I have always liked giving the tasting counter experience, because it’s what the consumer or other friends might really experience for themselves.

I recently had the privilege of touring the cellars of Raphael, in Long Island with Richard Olsen-Harbich. He showed me their extensive caves, and let me taste all manner of wines, from bottled to wine still in barrels. Everything was yummy one from the other.

But one thing indeed caught me eye. As far as I know, Raphael makes the only east coast malbec. Malbec is a blending grape from Bordeaux and the surrounding regions. I has been growing alongside its better known counterparts - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for years. There are a great many great houses that use a small percentage of malbec in their assemblages.

But the South Americans have found this French bit-player, and made it a star. Argentina and Chile feature no small amount of big wines made with this deep, purpley, jammy grape. These wines offer up bits of plum and dark black berries in huge abundance, but finish dry and smooth.

I have written about Raphael’s malbec before. They grow a small amount of it at Raphael for their wine club. Rich allowed me to taste there 2004, 2005, and 2006 malbecs. One was better than the other. Each was bursting with big dark fruits, and were mouthfuls of jam. Vanilla aromas gave the nose a magical effect. the colors were all dark and plummy.

Each wine was a great and unique experience. And I cannot crow about these wines enough. The only problem with these wines are that they are made in small supply, and are sold only through their wine club. Personally - I will do what I have to so that I can get my hands on these wines again. Call them, and join their wine clubs now. Find this wine no matter what you can do. Run, don't walk. It’s wonderful. It's excellent.