Channing Daughters, under Christopher Tracy, its winemaker and a trained sommelier, generated some of the region's most exciting single-grape and blended whites....
A STREAM of first-rate East End wines made 2005 a pleasure for drinking. While I did not taste all of the hundreds sold, I found quite a few standouts; some of them remain available in wineries' tasting rooms, stores and restaurants.
Raphael's 2001 First Label merlot ($30), which promises to evolve into an exceptionally sophisticated wine, was the best red I encountered. It was followed closely by Wölffer's 2002 Premier Cru merlot. At $125, it was the Island's costliest broadly available standard-size bottle.
Bedell's 2001 Merlot Reserve in magnum ($200), with a label displaying a watercolor by Eric Fischl, of Sag Harbor, was indistinguishable from an outstanding St. Émilion.
The No. 1 rookie was Richard Pisacano, Wölffer's vineyard manager, whose Roanoke Vineyards, a new North Fork estate, opened for business with a blockbuster 2000 merlot ($38) and a powerful 2003 cabernet sauvignon ($40).
In the cabernet franc sphere, Schneider's 2003 Roanoke Point ($38) was significant; Pellegrini's 2001 ($17.99) echoed the weighty Bordeaux style; Osprey Dominion's 2001 (at $18, a bargain) was smoky and sultry; Peconic Bay Winery's 2002 ($22) was opulent and complex.
Fans of reds may relish everything at the Diliberto Winery, a newcomer. Salvatore A. Diliberto keeps his North Fork estate beneath the radar, but it cannot stay that way long. His Italianate touch is a big draw.
Macari's delicate 2004 rosé ($12), the most appealing version drunk last summer, was a charming blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.
Channing Daughters, under Christopher Tracy, its winemaker and a trained sommelier, generated some of the region's most exciting single-grape and blended whites. This Bridgehampton estate has begun mounting a challenge to Wölffer's status as the South Fork's leader.
To get Channing Daughters' whites, which disappear fast, consumers need to be alert to release dates or join the estate's wine club. The whites include the Channing Perrine Cuvée Tropical chardonnay, pinot grigio, Tocai Friulano, Vino Bianco and Sylvanus.