By Jamie Drummond
This we we look at one of the Long Island wineries which impressed us the most… First up, the decidedly leftfield Channing Daughters.
Channing Daughters is a medium-sized winery situated on the South Fork of the East End of Long Island. Here Winemaker, and ex-pastry Chef, Christopher Tracey makes what have to be the most unique wines that the region has to offer. Rather than follow the sadly too common let’s-plant-bloody-everything-we-can-get-our-mitts-on-and-see-what-sticks route of so many of his peers, Tracy has decided that the grapes most suited for Long Island’s specific microclimate are those of Northeastern Italy… along with a fair bit of Chardonnay and Merlot so as not to frighten the horses… or the bank manager for that matter.
While they can be polarizing (as I witnessed first hand in our tasting group), Tracy’s wines show a distinctive purity of fruit, tantalising mineral characteristics, and a linearity that definitely sets them apart from the crowd. Good Food Revolution’s friend Paul Grieco of NYC’s Hearth and Terroir has gone as far as to have suggested that Tracy’s Meditazione is perhaps the greatest white wine in America… and this is coming from a chap who seriously knows his wines. Employing a number of winemaking techniques rarely seen in the region, Tracy expertly crafts a range of esoteric bottlings that certainly inspire and excite, some very much bringing me in mind stylistically of the wines of Palmina, California.
2008 Channing Daughters “Meditazione” Long Island AVA
(27% Sauvignon Blanc/27% Chardonnay/16% Tocai Friulano/16% Muscat Ottonel/14% Pinot Grigio)
Certainly not for the feint of palate (or heart for that matter), the 2008 Meditazione lives up to its reputation. With all five varietals co-fermented on their skins in open top fermenters and then aged in a mixture of new and old French and Slovenian oak, this wildly exotic wine may scare off a few of the traditionalists, but no matter as that means all the more for the rest of us. Served with only a slight chill, a glass of this wine evolves by the minute aromatically, with the most complex of noses. Spice, honey, and ripe stone fruit carry from bouquet to palate, where the Meditazione is unashamedly broad and expansive. It’s almost all too much, but then Tracy’s trademark acidity pulls everything back into line. Utterly compelling.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he would like to disclose that he opened a bottle of this for some friends at 5am, after a smashing loft party. Now that’s probably not how Tracy envisioned his ambrosia to be enjoyed, but it sure went down a treat. Just the other day one of the aforementioned friends remarked that this had been the best wine he had ever tasted!