Friday, April 02, 2010

BARREL TASTING AT RAPHAEL WINERY




So I went with my wife and kids to Long Island a little time ago, and have been compiling my notes ever since. I met with Rich Olsen-Harbich, and he led me, my wife, and kids, through the winery, and let me and Dominique taste a few things.


We took the ferry over from Connecticut. The boys had a ball, and we sat with a very nice gentleman, Barry Sherman from Massachusetts, who told us of all the things he had seen taking the ferry for more than 20 years. A submarine passed by on it's way to Electric Boats, which is the submarine building company near New London, CT.


Rich, and his assistant winemaker, Don Vino, were bottling when we arrived.


They boys had fun, as Rich let them climb the the stairs near the tanks.


Here's they're new bottling line. Very fancy.

And then there was the barrel tasting.


Now some notes:


First Label Merlot 2008 is ready to bottle and be bottle aged for at least a year, according to Rich. The wine had a huge nose - vanilla, plum, deep dark cherry, a touch of blackberry and a hint of prune. Wonderful. A nice dry finish. One of the best east coast wines I have ever had. This one is the one to buy!!!!!!


Cabernet Franc 2009 was wonderful. A nice, medium bodied red, with nice bright and dark cherry flavors. Fresh. Drinkable. Very nice. A nice surprise, considering the weather of last year.


Petite Verdot 2009 was deep in color, a ruby/garnet wine, with lots of fun up front fruit, and elegant balance. Another winner.


Merlot 2009 is a bright red claret, full of fresh fruit, with notes of bright cherry, raspberry, and already a slight hint of vanilla. Very exciting. Again, a triumph, considering last year's weather.


Richard Olsen-Harbich has created a First Growth Estate at Raphael. He's always fascinated by new things, like releasing his white wine Narturale (read Lenn Thompson's review at NYCR - see tag below) which has gotten rave reviews, so he's always stretching. But he has created something so incredibly special at Raphael, few wineries on the east coast could or can emulate. The wines are consistent and superb, like few other places. His abilities as a winemaker are incredible. And the winery itself is a marvel.
Congratulations.