Channing Daughters, located on the South Fork, provided me with one of the most unique yet enjoyable tastings during my time out on the Island. The wines are pushing the limits of experimentation, but in a beautiful and eye-opening way. The fact that their mailing list devours the majority of their production is relieving to me because it shows that consumers in the United States are truly starting to open their minds to new experiences. Channing Daughters was the only winery I visited that made wines from all three of Long Islands AVA’s, which lends well to the diversity within their lineup.
“These are food wines,” was the phrase I heard most often in the tasting room. This is likely the easiest way for them to explain the feminine structures and vibrant acidity of these wines to the average taster. However, if you’ve ever explored wines of Northeastern Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and even Germany, then you’ll feel right at home here. The whites were full of energy with zesty fruit grounded by minerals and earth, while the reds showed a level of ripe, pure, focused fruit that is seldom seen in domestic wines. It was refreshing to the soul as much as it was to the palate.
Winemaker Christopher Tracy, a chef-turned-sommelier-turned winemaker, was in-and-out of the tasting room during my visit as he oversaw a number of tasks around the winery. With each pass, he would listen in or add to our conversations. His energy and passion for the wines shined through clear as day and can be seen even more clearly when tasting wines such as the 2008 L'Enfant Sauvage Chardonnay, the 2008 Meditazione or the 2004 Pazzo. Each of these wines thrilled me, as they do for the members of Channing Daughter’s mailing list. Too bad for me that many of their wines sell out exclusively to their list. I would strongly urge readers to check in with Channing Daughters and if in the North Fork, it’s only a 45-minute drive and a scenic ferry ride away.
The Wines2010 Channing Daughters Cabernet Franc Rosato ($18) - The nose was wonderfully fresh with light strawberry, floral notes and hints of floral undergrowth. The palate showed white cherry with a nice medium body, yet dry, refreshing and great acidity. The finish was dry yet refreshing. (89 points)
2010 Channing Daughters Merlot Rosato Mudd Vineyard ($18) - The nose showed fresh berries and honeydew melon. On the palate, the slightest spritz gave way to mouth-filling flavors of strawberry and herbs. The finish was remarkable fresh and highly enjoyable. (89 points)
2010 Channing Daughters Cabernet Sauvignon Rosato Mudd Vineyard ($18) - The nose showed a floral perfume with undergrowth and soft cheese. On the palate, this wines structure set it apart from the rest of the Rosé lineup but it didn’t thrill me. (87 points)
2010 Channing Daughters Refosco Rosé ($20) - The nose showed ripe strawberry and floral undergrowth. On the palate, this wine was rich with flavors of strawberries, raspberries and hints of spice. The long, staying finish was fresh and showed an attractive floral expression. (91 points)
2010 Channing Daughters Sauvignon Blanc Mudd West Vineyard ($20) - On the nose, this was brilliantly fresh with gorgeous florals, lime hints and herbs. On the palate, I found sweet lime, with grassy and mineral notes. It was mouth-filling with a great balance of acidity versus concentration, with a long fresh finish. (90 points)
2010 Channing Daughters Sauvignon Blanc Mudd Vineyard ($20) - From 35-year-old vines, the nose showed floral and citrus notes. On the palate, I found green apple, a bit of tart fruit, minerals and a hint of salinity. It was zesty with balanced acidity, yet at the same time rich and fruity. The finish was long lasting and fresh with more florals and citrus. (91 points)
2008 Channing Daughters Mosaico (A blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Tocai, and Gewurztraminer) ($29) - The nose was explosive with floral aromas, lime, wet stone and young peach. On the palate, it was soft with a medium body as citrus fruits washed across the senses. The finish showed green apple and peach with hints of bitter fruits. (91 points)
2009 Channing Daughters Chardonnay Scuttlehole ($17) - The nose showed sweet white fruits, apple and citrus notes. On the palate, this wine flaunted a lush body and yet it was so fresh. Apple and citrus notes washed across the senses and faded into a fresh, pleasant finish. (88 points)
2008 Channing Daughters Chardonnay L'Enfant Sauvage ($35) - The nose showed masses of citrus with baked apples, spices and something almost confectionary while never seeming sweet. On the palate, this showed a plush full body yet remarkably fresh and balanced with flavors of sweet apples and minerals. The finish went on and on. This is barrel fermentation done with style. (92 points)
2008 Channing Daughters Ramato (Pinot Grigio) ($20) - The nose showed grapefruit rinds, peach and field grasses. On the palate, this wine was light and refreshing with tea leaves, spice and greenery. It reminded me of the wines of Movia, with it’s laser-like focus and a character-filled flavor profile. I could imagine this wine being a great complement to seafood. (89 points)
2008 Channing Daughters Meditazione (A blend of 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Chardonnay, 16% Tocai Friulano, 16% Muscat Ottonel and 14% Pinot Grigio.) ($40) - The 2008 Meditazione was worth the price of admission on the nose alone. Dried fruits, baked apples, something floral, and slate dust filled out its beautiful bouquet. On the palate, it was feminine and light with green tea, apricot and flowers. The finish was long and carried the wines aromas and flavors to the close. This is a must-try wine from the North Fork, especially if you’re looking for something new and beautifully unique. (92 points)
2008 Channing Daughters Blaufränkisch ($25) - The 2009 Blaufränkisch is made from both North and South Fork fruit and is a cool-climate grape with lots of zesty acidity. The nose showed floral and pepper notes with very pretty spice and wild berries. On the palate, it was soft and caressing with flavors of blackberry, hints of citrus and herbal tea. The finish was feminine and elegant. (89 points)
2007 Channing Daughters Sculpture Garden ($30) - The Sculpture Garden is made from 88% Merlot from one of the oldest vineyards on the South Fork, with 12% Blaufrankisch from the Sylvanus vineyard. The nose showed blueberries, blackberries and undergrowth. On the palate, this wine was fresh and feminine with ripe wild berries and spice. The finish was long and floral with sour berry. Very nice. (90 points)
2007 Channing Daughters Mudd ($40) - Made from 60% Merlot, 21% Syrah and small amounts of Dornfelder, Cabernet Franc and Blaufrankisch. The nose was spicy with blue and black fruits, herbs and undergrowth. On the palate, this was elegant but concentrated with red fruits and showed great structure. (89 points)
NV Channing Daughters Over & Over: Variation Four ($35) - Over and Over is a Ripasso wine made primarily form Merlot and blended over multiple vintages. The nose showed pepper notes, grapefruit, and sour cherry. On the palate, it was soft with dark red berries, black fruits, and more pepper. (88 points)
2004 Channing Daughters Merlot Pazzo (100% Merlot) ($30) - The nose showed fig, cinnamon, dried berries, nuts and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, it showed beautiful body versus brisk acidity with flavors of caramel, orange peel and almond. The finish went on for over a minute. (91 points)