A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weird Blend Wednesday - Channing Daughters "Meditazione," Long Island, NY, USA

After a very long hiatus, we're back with another installment of Weird Blend Wednesday!  Today I'd like to take a look at a wine that has a lot of interesting weird stuff going for it.  Not only are the grapes a little bit unusual, but the region and the style of this wine are a little out of the ordinary as well.

Channing Daughters winery is located on the south fork of Long Island, which the wealthier among you may know as the Hamptons.  For those unfamiliar with the geography of Long Island, the end of the island that is farthest away from New York City (and which is accessible via a short ferry ride from New London, Connecticut) is forked at the end (see a map here).  The north fork has historically been dominated by farmland, but over the past few decades, many people have started growing grapes and opening up wineries.  There are a few dozen wineries now on the north fork of Long Island making wines of varying quality levels from grapes like Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay, among others.  The south fork has generally been a resort area for wealthy New Yorkers to keep a summer home, but there are just a handful of wineries, like Channing Daughters, that are located on the south fork of Long Island.

Though they're located on the south fork of the island, Channing Daughters sources grapes from all over the eastern end of Long Island, and they bottle wines from each of its three designated AVAs (North Fork, Hamptons, and Long Island).  The winery owns plots on both forks and also sources grapes from particular growers all over the island to make their wines, which are as varied and eclectic as I think I've ever seen from a single producer.  They have single vineyard wines and multi-vineyard blends, varietal wines and multi-grape blends, wines made from natural yeasts as well as wines made with cultivated yeasts, wines that are fined and filtered and wines that aren't, wines aged in any and every kind of oak barrel as well as wines done in 100% stainless steel.  The winery produces about 7000 cases of wine per year which is divided between twenty six different bottlings.

The wine that I picked up from them was their 2007 Meditazione, which is a wine made in the style of the "vino de meditazione" of the Friulia region of Italy.  This bottle was a blend of 35% Tocai Friulano, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Muscat Ottonel, 12% Pinot Grigio and 5% Pinot Bianco.  Channing Daughters has been making this wine for six years (the 2007 is actually the fourth vintage), and the particulars of it change from year to year.  The 2008, for example, was 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Chardonnay, 16% Tocai Friulano, 16% Muscat Ottonel and 14% Pinot Grigio, while the 2009 is 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 6% Chardonnay, 1% Malvasia, 38% Muscat Ottonel, 26% Pinot Bianco and 2% Pinot Grigio.  The wine is made in an orange wine style, meaning that the juice is left in contact with the skins for some time after crushing, but even the timing of this varies from year to year.  I'm not sure how much time the 2007 spent on the skins, but the 2008 spent 10 days while the 2009 spent 30 days.  The wine is typically aged for about 18 months in Slovenian oak prior to bottling.  It has been called the greatest white wine in America by at least one prominent sommelier and inspired this comic and post from the always excellent wakawakawinereviews.

I picked up my bottle of the 2007 Meditazione from my friends at the Spirited Gourmet for about $30.  In the glass the wine was a deep orange-bronze color.  The nose was intensely aromatic with peach, orange blossom, honeysuckle, pineapple and lime notes.  It had a heady, gorgeous perfume that made it difficult to move on to the step of actually tasting the wine.  On the palate the wine was on the fuller side of medium with medium acidity and little bit of tannic grip.  I made the mistake of storing this bottle in the refrigerator and initially tried to taste it when it was very cold.  In this condition, it was no fun at all to drink, but once I let it come down to room temperature, the palate blossomed with rich apricot, honey and orange peel flavors along with some toasted nuts, flower petals, and sawdust.  There was a kind of savory salinity to the wine as well.  I wasn't blown away by this at first sip, but by the time I finished the bottle, I was moony-eyed in love with it.  I was able to pick up another bottle and drank it recently with some of the guys from the Wine Bottega, and my impressions were pretty similar.  This is an amazing, mind-blowing, incredible wine that is worth not only the $30 that I paid for these bottles, but easily worth the $40 that the new vintage is commanding from the winery.  I don't know if it's the best wine made in America, but it's definitely one of the most interesting.  I'm hoping to drop down to the winery in the next few months and try some of their other wines and chat with the winemaker a bit, so stay tuned for more about these guys and the amazing things that they're doing.

1 comment:

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka said...

Thanks for the link back! Fascinating, strange, tasty wine, isn't it? Christopher Tracey, the wine maker for Channing Daughters, is open to email, if you wanted to ask him directly about the skin time on the 2007. Thanks again!