Channing Daughters Winery, and its winemaker Chris Tracy, are known for doing things a little differently. Instead of talking Bordeaux, they talk about Northern Italy. Instead of focusing on merlot, white wines are the focus. And instead of growing (and making) mostly French varieties, they grow whatever grows best in their vineyards.
Sometimes the novelty of their wines is just a gateway. It gets people interested in their wines and then the wines deliver above and beyond their novelty.
But sometimes the wines don't over-deliver. Sometimes they are just nice novelties. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I've long been a fan of Tracy's Blaufrankisch, a
major grape in Austria and Hungary that goes by many aliases
depending on the region it's growing in. In the U.S. (Washington State
makes some), usually goes by Lemberger. In Italy, it's Franconia, which makes me wonder why they don't use that name, given the Italian flavor at Channing Daughters. Channing
Daughters is the only Long Island winery to grow and produce
Blaufrankisch, and one of only two wineries in all of New York State
Channing Daughters Winery's 2006 Blaufrankisch ($25) is 86% Blaufrankisch and 14% merlot, and a little less interesting than previous vintages.
The nose is the most intriguing aspect, offering lots of cherry aromas, with plum, a faint gamey hint and earthy, smoky notes. On the palate, however, it's a bit more straightforward, with juicy cherry flavors, a little plum, and just a little earthiness. Structure is brought more by acidity than tannin here.
It's still worth checking out, but mostly for the novelty. I really miss the smoky gaminess on the palate that previous bottlings featured.