By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
When you take a step back and look at a map, Long Island wine country (the two forks of eastern Long Island) really isn't that big. As such, there just isn't that much new vineyard-ready land available, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some, mostly small-scale, planting happening.
At Raphael in Peconic, winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich and vineyard manager Steve Mudd planted 4 and a half acres of riesling back in 2007 in a low, generally cooler spot at the back of the main vineyard.
This is the first riesling that Olsen-Harbich has made for Raphael, but he's not unfamiliar with the grape having produced it for other wineries on Long Island and at having apprenticed at Hermann J. Wiemer in the Finger Lakes in the 1980s.
In my experience, vines this young tend to result in forward, somewhat simple wines. With this Raphael 2009 Riesling ($25) that's at least half true.
Bursting with ruby red grapefruit aromas, the nose also delivers some peach, cantelope and passion fruit with a subtle herbal-lemongrass note.
A juicy and extremely fresh expression of riesling with tongue-tingling acidity, the dry palate brings similar dominant ruby grapefuit character with more melon and the addition of Kaffir lime leaf. Though a bit abrupt, the finish features a distinct wet stone note that reminds me of my parents' old gravel driveway after a rainstorm.
A fine first effort for this new vineyard, it will be interesting to see how these wines develop over time. Maybe as the crop gets a little bigger, the price will get into the $18-20 range as well.
Brix at harvest: 19.5
Case Production: 100