February 2007

Channing Charmers

Howard Goldberg writes up the new Channing Daughters releases- 2005 Meditazione, 2005 Blaufrankisch and 2006 Sauvignon Blanc.

The wines that James Christopher Tracy makes at Channing Daughters, in Bridgehampton, may not yet be the most polished on Long Island, but they are the most provocative. This chef-turned-winemaker packs more flavor surprises into his whites, especially, than anyone else. 

Walter Channing, the owner, has made Mr. Tracy and Mr. Tracy’s wife, Allison Dubin, the general manager, minority partners at Channing Daughters. 

A risk-taker, Mr. Tracy succeeds with his 2005 Meditazione ($40), his second vintage of a white based on vino da meditazione, native to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in northeastern Italy. 

This golden-hued dry “meditation wine,” made from tocai Friulano, chardonnay, pinot grigio, muscat ottonel, sauvignon blanc, viognier, sémillon and malvasia bianca grapes, captivates the palate and the intellect. 

With merely 58 cases made and a three-bottle limit per customer, the wine won’t go far. Lucky buyers will experience an enigmatic, tangy richness. Mr. Tracy said he would pair the wine with pork loin, squash ravioli, mushroom-and-bacon risotto and aged Gouda. 

His intensely flavorful, light-bodied 2006 Mudd Vineyard sauvignon blanc ($20), made with fruit from vines planted in 1975 in Southold, is also beguiling. It contains a small amount of aromatic musqué-clone chardonnay. The tropical grapefruit-like flavor offers a long, rewarding finish. 

The sauvignon blanc pairs well with shellfish, all sorts of white-fleshed fish, asparagus, eggs and fresh goat’s-milk cheese, Mr. Tracy said. 

Perhaps no red on Long Island is more experimental than Mr. Tracy’s dry blaufränkisch ($25). (The grape and wine are mainstream in Austria and in Hungary, where it is called kekfrankos; also known as lemberger, it is popular in Washington State and in the Württemberg region of Germany.) 

Smoky, spicy, awash in the flavors of macerated dark berries and licorice accents, the ruby 2005 edition is invitingly gamy, with a softness that may come from the 25 percent infusion of merlot. 

Mr. Tracy would pour the blaufränkisch with mushrooms, a variety of game, goulash and Wiener schnitzel. Myself, I’d have it with goulash. 

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