As you know, lots of Long Island winemakers still focus on the parallels between their own region and Bordeaux. Merlot and the cabernets--sauvignon and franc--are clearly the dominant red grapes here and they do well (except maybe sauvignon, which only thrives in the best years in the best locations).
But, market conditions being what they are, most white wine made in these parts is made with chardonnay, the white grape of Burgundy. Those wines can be simple and gulpable or rich, complex and truly Burgundian, but they are nothing like white Bordeaux, which are made with sauvignon blanc and semillon.
Luckily, many of my favorite producers have been making some terrific sauvignon blancs. These are some of the wines I'm most excited about.
Richard Olsen-Harbich got his start in winemaking in the Finger Lakes, so it shouldn't be any surprise that the man knows what he's doing with aromatic, steel-fermented whites and his Raphael 2006 Sauvignon Blanc ($22) reflects that--as well as his dedication to Long Island's unique terroir.
Fermented entirely in stainless steel at 45 degrees, this wine is explosively aromatic on the nose with grapefruit and gooseberries accented by intense grassiness and salty minerality.
Medium bodied and tremendously flavorful, it's citrusy, fresh and and deliciously tart with terrific acidity, hints of herbs and minerals and a lingering, lemony finish. Local shellfish is the ideal match for this fine example of Long Island sauvignon.