Raphael, established in 1996 in lovely Peconic Bay on Long Island's North Fork is best known for it's red wine -- particularly merlot. (In fact, they are a charter member of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.)
Winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich also crafts one of the better sauvignon blancs around, but he's told me before that only having the one white (and it's not chardonnay!) wine has turned some tasting room visitors off.
There is no doubt in my mind that their latest white release, a 2004 Grand Cru White Table Wine ($15) was conceptualized to cater to those white wine wanters. It's 100% chardonnay from nearby Ospreys' Dominion Vineyard and made 100% in stainless steel, which just happens to be a local style of chardonnay that I really enjoy.
Why call it Grand Cru and not chardonnay? It's much more about avoiding any chardonnay bias than playing on the reputation of French Grand Crus. If they were going to do that, they'd probably have called it Chablis.
This is chardonnay, but not in the usual American oaky/buttery sense. Again, this is a wine made for the people and thankfully, fewer and fewer people want that style of over-manipulated chardonnay.
Eyes: Light, very-clear lemon yellow
Nose: Citrusy apples with a little blanched almond in the background
Tongue: This wine is relatively light bodied and offers nice, fresh acidity. The flavors match the nose with a slightly mineral finish. Clean, crisp and easy to drink there's not much complexity here, but there doesn't need to be. Very food friendly and again, in a style I relish.
Lenn's Grade: B
Nena's Grade: B
Comments: Would be superb at $12, but not bad at $15. If you don't think you like chardonnay, come to Long Island and I'll let you actually taste the chardonnay grape. There are at least a half dozen stainless or mostly-stainless made versions here now...and you can actually taste fruit. Imagine that.