Things That Make NY Great: Channing Daughters Winery
It took a few extra years, but Deb and I finally made our way back to The Hamptons, in pursuit of……what else: food and wine! To avoid the temptation to spend our entire trip sunning on the beach, we planned our visit while the weather was still a bit chilly. This proved beneficial, as we managed to fill our two precious days fully immersed in the aforementioned pursuits. The highlight, as expected, was a visit with our good friends at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, to taste their exceptional, micro-production wines.
Reinventing NYS Wine
Hand-crafted by the assiduous Christopher Tracy using a rare philosophical recipe of determination, experimentation, and good old-fashioned intuition, Channing Daughters’ wines are neither a commercial product nor the fruits of someone’s vanity project. These are wines that exhibit eastern Long Island’s unique terroir with nuance yet to be achieved by neighboring producers. Part of the magic equation is Christopher’s approach of cultivating grape varieties that are appropriate for the climate. While other L.I. growers are satisfied with the results of their very marketable Chardonnays and Merlots, Christopher’s “radical” decision to take it a few steps further by planting varieties like Tocai Friulano, Blaufrankisch and Refosco has not only distinguished his wines, but has opened everyone’s eyes to the possibilities in The Hamptons and North Fork viticultural areas.
Tracking ‘Em Down
With more than 30 different bottlings in production, there are only 13,000 total cases produced annually. That translates to an average of less than 500 cases per wine (with some bottlings, the number is well below 100 cases!). This makes their tasting room a must-visit on your next weekend getaway to the East End. And to everyone else’s good fortune, access to many of their wines in and around NYC is surprisingly realistic. They’re sold in nearly 30 wine shops in the heart of NYC alone, and rub shoulders with the world’s greats on the wine lists of well over 100 of NYC’s top restaurants. The Channing Daughters website provides a comprehensive directory. Consider becoming a wine club member, and they’ll ship right to your door!
From Our Perspective
There’s something in the mix for everyone. For Deb and me, it was pretty much “one of each”, as we crammed a few mixed cases into our trunk. Here are some highlights from different parts of the spectrum. Additionally, if these wines sound tempting to you, be sure to attend WAC’s May 14th Spring & Summer Sipping wine event, which will feature some Channing Daughters wines!
Pinot Grigio ‘11
This might be the one and only time that Deb or I recommend a Pinot Grigio. The ’11 Channing Daughters, made from a blend of estate and North Fork fruit, has more in common with the classy and dramatic Pinot Gris of Alsace than with the flaccid, commercial plonk grown elsewhere. It’s aromatic, powerful, crunchy and carried along by a chalky minerality uncommon in the category.
Tocai Friulano “Mudd West” ‘11
Christopher is the only producer of Tocai on Long Island, and he has a head-start understanding how it grows there. The Mudd West Vineyard is on the North Fork, and yields a Tocai of vivid aromatics and silky body. Classy notes of cologne, flowers, nut oils and citrus border on the exotic, while minerally, tangy flavors render the wine diverse with cuisine. 303 cases made.
Rosato di Refosco ‘13
Who else is growing the Italian variety Refosco in the US, let along crafting a fine rosé from it? Of the seven beautiful 2013 rosés offered, this is the superstar. Grown on the estate, it offers Provencal aromas of honeydew, cucumber and talc, and subtle Euro-style spice and licorice flavors accenting it’s red Alpine fruit. 318 cases produced!
I can’t think of a single Lagrein grown outside of Northern Italy, Alto Adige. Christopher really nailed it with the ’12…from his own estate vineyard. It’s all full of herbaceous, rustic aromas within a frame of kinky blue fruit. The palate shows cacao, clay, pine forest, cracked pepper and an elegant fruit profile supported by poppy acid. Compelling American juice, to say the least. 86 cases made, strictly allocated.