April 2006

Three Roses, One Winery

As warm weather arrives, rosés spring up like crocuses on the East End. Not content with parenting only one new rosé, as many wineries do, the innovative Channing Daughters Winery has produced three. 

Its cabernet sauvignon version comes from grapes farmed at the Mudd Vineyard, and its cabernet franc version is from the Coteau Farm Vineyard, both in Southold; the merlot version is from the McCall Vineyard in Cutchogue. 

Though the lipstick hues and culinary purposes of these 2005 rosés may seem frivolous, the wines are artfully made and serious. Tasted side by side at the same cool (not icy) temperatures, they show their differences vividly. 

In flavor, freshness and application, these $17 rosés are closer to whites than reds. Because some Channing Daughters whites are modeled on frisky counterparts from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a region in northeastern Italy, the winery calls its new program Tre Rosati (Three Rosés). 

The winery, in Bridgehampton on the South Fork, labels each version rosato. Its winemaker, James Christopher Tracy, a former sommelier and a chef, would approve if you poured his rosati, all bone dry, with Italian food. But he encourages their use with various fish, shellfish, summer vegetables, goat cheeses and meat dishes. 

The wines range in use from "the raw bar to the grill, from the picnic table to the dinner table," he said in an e-mail note. 

The shades of pink in rosés give a room charm. I put Mr. Tracy's three on my white dining room table so that the morning sun will turn them neon. 

My favorite is the cabernet sauvignon. Wonderfully aromatic, almost fleshy, full-bodied, juicy, a bit complex and delivering a long finish, this pink drink is delicious — almost gulpable, as rosé enthusiasts say. 

The pink merlot, like many of its dark-ruby siblings, is soft, round, on the full side and spicy. A day after it was opened its enticing bouquet resembled a sweet pastry. 

The cabernet franc, coral-and-salmon colored, was austere, somewhat steely and tart. A delicate wine with distant berry flavors, it is the sharpest appetite-awakener of the group. 

Mr. Tracy said the source vineyards were managed or owned by Steve Mudd. The fruit from each "seemed to beg to be made into rosati: beautiful, different expressions of site and grape, texture and flavor," he added. 

Incidentally, Jeff Morgan, a former resident of Cutchogue and the author of "Rosé: A Guide to the World's Most Versatile Wine" (Chronicle Books, 2005), traces his interest in the subject to Larry Perrine, Channing Daughters' president and chief executive. 

Mr. Morgan, who makes SoloRosa rosé in the Napa Valley, writes in the introduction that his "New York wine guru," Mr. Perrine, "got me started with barrel-fermented rosé," when both worked for the former Gristina Vineyards in Cutchogue — now the Galluccio Family Wineries. Mr. Perrine was its founding winemaker. HOWARD G. GOLDBERG

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