Friday, March 30, 2012

Vineyard Visit: Channing Daughters Library Tasting

I am smitten with Channing Daughters, a Long Island Vineyard (Hamptons, North Fork and Long Island AVAs).  It all started when I found a bottle of their Scuttle Hole Chardonnay in a friend's fridge in the city. After making many derisive comments about Chardonnay, I tasted it and to my chagrin, I really liked it.  This prompted me to make my first Vineyard Visit to Channing Daughters, which went so well that for the first time in my life, I joined a Wine Club. (did I mention that I am smitten?)

On March 25th, Wine Club Members were invited to a Library Tasting to celebrate the winery's new multipurpose building.  We tasted 12 wines in the "behind the scenes" atmosphere of barrels aging and cases waiting to be shipped.  It was a great peek into the reality of wine making. Most of "Team Channing Daughters" was there to pour for a very diverse group of club members that rainy Sunday.  We all had one thing in common.  We all like good wine.

Table One had Winemaker Christopher Tracy pouring. He held court and spoke enthusiastically about the process and the product.  This is a man who takes pride in what he does and enjoys sharing with everyone.

2007 Sauvignon $24.00 - crisp and light, a great light fresh way to start the tasting.

2004 L'enfant Sauvage Chardonnay $50.00 Smooth, flavorful and delicious.  It reminded me of Latour's White Burgundy, with a brighter finish. Channing Daughters is artisanal, and they are doing very interesting things with their wines.  Using native wild yeasts in some of the fermenting process adds a depth of flavor that makes this wine unique and flavorful.  I loved it.

2007 L'Enfant Sauvage $50.00 (I called this the `04's younger brother) it was young, fresh, a bit grassy, and had amazing hints of what is to come.  I bought a bottle to take home with me.  It could be opened and consumed tomorrow, but I am going to sit on this one and let it gather dust in the basement.  This wine is worth waiting for.

Nestled between fermenting barrels and cases of wine was Table Two, I didn't get the name of the man pouring, but he did talk about how he too was seduced by Channing Daughter's Wine - he started out as a Wine Club Member. This is a vineyard that inspires devotion and I don't throw those words around lightly.

2007 Mosaico $29.00 a big flavored blend of their greatest hits varietals: 32% Pinot Grigio, 29% Chardonnay, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Muscat Ottonel, 7% Tocai Friulano, and 6% Gewurztraminer.  This is artistic blending that created a dry, complex, yet refreshing white wine.

2006 Envelope $42.00 This is a six year old version of a wine I fell in love with. "Orange Wine" skin fermented (a la rose, but with white wine - hence "orange"), deep hued 70% Chardonnay 30% Gewurztraminer that smells fruity and sweet, but tastes rich and dry. I have a bottle of the `10 ready to be paired and reviewed. This is the wine that solidified my Channing Daughters Crush. ♥

2005 Meditazione $42.00 This is their Rockstar Northern Italian inspired "Orange Wine".  Skin fermented,  29% Tocai Friulano, 24% Chardonnay, 19.5% Pinot Grigio, 11% Muscat Ottonel, 6% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Viognier and 2.5% Malvasia Bianca, I think of this as a Thomas Keller wine.  Take the right amounts, mix them together properly and you get cutting edge haute cuisine with an American twist. Just the smell of this wine made my mouth water.

Table three was special.  CEO Larry Perrine poured three of their reds that are close to home and a great reflection of the property and the winery.

2004 Blaufrankish $28.00 a straightforward representation of 86% Blaufrankisch and 14% Merlot.  Easy to drink, honest to the varietal with some soft Merlot undertones and aged well in new French Oak.  It is a nice wine.  I have a bottle of their `09 to review at home.

2005 Sculpture Garden $35.00 This is the inverse of the Blaufrankish above.  97% Merlot and 3% Blaufrankish, which made it a smooth plummy wine.  I feel like this wine is at the top of its game and tasting it made me realize that good things come to those who wait.

2006 Research Cab $45.00 This is a dry blend of 39% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Blaufrankisch, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Syrah, 1.5% Sangiovese, 2%, 1.5% Barbera, and 1% Malbec.  Really, does it make you wonder if the winemaker had a chemistry kit as a child?  This is a wine that I would dare someone to try and replicate.  Between the mixing, the unfined & unfiltered fermenting and the overall age of the wine, it is an amalgam of flavor that is one of a kind.  More of a wine to sip and talk about the process of making wine, with the rich, dry flavors that remind us why we like wine. Listening to Larry talk about the North Fork "Research Vineyard" where all these varietals were grown just makes me feel like I am listening to an alchemist give up the secrets to making gold.

Table Four.  Debbie Huneken  poured these stately reds.

Over & Over Variation 3 $37.00  A multi-vintage blend of red wines from as far back as 2004.  It was earthy and easy to sip.  Another example of the alchemy that has been happening at Channing Daughters.

1991 Horton Point $30.00 a Bordeaux type blend that was made from grapes grown on the property. This well aged full bodied wine pre-dates the vineyard, but still speaks to the "terrior" of the Hamptons AVA.  Grow Grapes, make wine, age for a couple for decades, and then grill some fatty steak, pop open the bottle and talk about the nascent days of vineyards on Long Island.  Horton had a point, and that point was, we can do this, we can make wine locally.  I am glad that they built on this footprint and thrilled that the wine business is flourishing today.

2006 Mudd $40.00 And last, I will leave you with my favorite.  (seriously, I was trying to figure out how I could just grab the bottle and drink it all afternoon) I have some of the Mudd here at home to review, but this was a well aged `06 that is so delicious.  Each sip as it opened up gave me layers of flavor.  I went back for a second glass under the pretense that I was taking a picture.  But the truth was, I just wanted to walk around and sip it.  Of course I bought a bottle, so there are two Mudds in the wine rack now, the `06 and an `07.  I'm thinking that one night this summer when there are people over, I'll start with the `06 and finish with the `07.  I can't wait to show off this wine:  72.6% Merlot, 19.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.4% and 1.5% Dornfelder.  AKA "magic in a glass".

A slide show from the day:

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