At the onset of spring break, Priya and I drove out to Montauk, for a few days of eternal horizons, crashing waves, and wine. From the three wineries on Long Island’s South Fork, we chose to visit two (or rather I chose two and Priya offered support), beginning with Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton. With 50% of their grapes grown on site, and the rest from a handful of vineyards on the North Fork (where land is more affordable in comparison), Channing Daughters offered over twelve wines for tasting, some of which are quite fine.
On a crispy afternoon we walked in to a wooden bar with brick floor and a steady flow of first time visitors and club members. Behind the counter were windows revealing stacks of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks, and a man named Simon with a vigor for vines and a tasting menu of six wines. Standing in puddles of late afternoon sun, we learned that Channing Daughters strives not for consistency through manipulation, but rather artisanal expressions of the elements that create wine.
Their Sauvignon “with a touch of [Slovenian and French, new and old] oak and [18%] indigenous yeast” is surprisingly floral, a touch spicy, and cut with 11% Chardonnay, which gives it some earth. Because Channing Daughters harvests for acidity and not sugar, the Sauvignon, along with most of their other wines, expresses minerality.
The thrill of my visit belonged to the Rosato–all three of them, made from Cab Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Over four years ago, Channing Daughters made one rosé, a blend. Now the three are single varietal wines, released at the beginning of April, and often sold as a three-packs(at $17 a bottle) that quickly sell out.
The lightest of the three is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Gently pressed, the skins are in contact for an hour and a half (the same goes for the Merlot and Cabernet), which yields a pale salmon color–a rosé that is quite aromatic, with strawberry, raspberry, minerality and spice.
The Merlot, is also 100% and cluster-pressed. Earthy for a rosé, the Merlot shows strawberry and watermelon, a bit of barnyard on the nose, finishing with a touch of spice. It might just be my favorite made from Long Island Merlot!
Ruby rose in color, the Cabernet Sauvignon is fruiter on the palate than the nose, which offers perfume aromas and a whisper of red fruits. On the palate, it’s the most fruit-forward of the three–cherry and raspberry–and though less spicy, it too is guided by minerality and earth.
Of the three reds we tasted, I’ll mention one–Over & Over-Variation 2 ($35). Using both a ripasso method (a variety of blends–2004 passed over 2006, halved and passed over 2007) and a solera system for blending, winemaker Christopher Tracy has made a wine that comes with an illustrated chart sheet. Using Merlot, Syrah, and Dornfelder, Tracy has created smoky, barnyard-like aromas, with subtle fruit. With medium plus acidity and some black fruit in the back seat, Over & Over is well balanced and much easier to drink than read.
Stay tuned for Wolffer Estate.