Not that long ago, Raphael produced what I considered the benchmark sauvignon blanc on the North Fork of Long Island. It was fruit-forward but not too ripe or fruity. It was minerally but not austere and flavorless. Then, with some  staffing changes in the cellar came a fall off. The wine was still solid, but rarely more.

The 2013 vintage was winemaker Anthony Nappa’s first at the helm and after tasting Raphael 2013 “First Label” Sauvignon Blanc ($28) Raphael could be on its way to again becoming a quality leader in the region.

Sourced from the estate’s oldest sauvignon blanc vines, this intensely aromatic white shows aromas of ruby red grapefruit, tropical fruit, lemon verbena and minty herbs.

Fuller bodied and mouth-filling, the palate shows more of that concentrated citrus character with hints of quava and papaya. That herbal edge is faint, but there and the long, lingering finish features gravelly acidity that deftly balances the ripeness.

Thought perhaps not priced for everyday drinking, this is a great example of the grape on Long Island. Local seafood wants this wine.

Producer: Raphael
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13.1%
Price: $28*

 (4 out of 5, Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)