Raphael_09naturalewhiteBy Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

When Raphael winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich released his first Naturale — a 2008 white blend (read the NYCR review) made without the addition of sugar or acid,
without filtration or fining, and using naturally occurring yeasts and only the slightest bit of SO2 during bottling, I was intrigued.

I look for deliciousness in wine, rather than a particular style of winemaking. Natural, biodynamic, organic, sustainable — they all matter on some level, but not if the wine isn't delicious. That 2008 received a 4-start rating and was a finalist in the NYCR Wines of the Year.

Raphael 2009 Naturale White ($20), at least at this stage, isn't quite as good as the previous edition, but still an incredibly interesting wine to drink over the course of an evening. I'm no where near an expert on wild ferment wines, but the complexity and non-fruit character it seems to bring appeals to me.

The nose still smells a bit of fermentation and tiny bubbles cling to the inside of the glass.

But once that curtain is pulled back, nuanced aromas of fresh and honey-roasted apple, lemon curd, pineapple, hazelnut, citrus blossom and sweet herbs emerge.

The medium-bodied palate is at once fresh and creamy, thought a bit simpler. A bit more nutty than the nose, the apple flavors dominate with subtle honey and citrus notes. The finish is medium-length and dry with a earthy-herbal note.

If the 2008 is any indication, this wine will evolve quite a bit — and quickly — in bottle, so I'll check in on it again soon.

Producer: Raphael
AVA: North Fork

Grapes: 63% chardonnay, 30% sauvignon blanc, 4% riesling, 3% semillon

ABV: 12.7%

Brix: 21.4

TA: 8 g/l

pH: 3.15
Production: 200cases

Price: $20*
Rating:    (3 out of 5 | Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)