Tasting Notes from Channing Daughters Wine Tasting Sat Mar 31: Wine Geek Heaven

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Calling all wine geeks. Don’t miss the opportunity to tap into your broad knowledge of Blaufrankisch, discuss the relative merits of muscat of alexandria and muscat ottonel, or whether foot trodding can lead to wines with low self-esteem.  All of these subjects and more are fair game at the shop for our Channing Daughters Winery Tasting Saturday March 31, 3 to 6pm. We welcome all wine geeks but wine snobs need not apply. With Ron Philips from the winery, see you Saturday.

2010 Pinot grigio blended with a small amount of Chardonnay, it has nice fresh apple flavors, probably from the Chardonnay, good lively acidity, perfect for fried seafoo

2008 Cuvee Tropical Made from the Musque clone of Chardonnay, I was amazed to hear that CDW works with 10 different Chardonnay clones! It is also blended with a small % of dry muscat ottonel which I think really makes the aromatics pop. It definitely has lots of tropical fruit character along with some baked apple, its a very nicely balanced Chardonnay with plenty of fruitiness balanced with good acidity.  I love that these wines are all right around 12% alcohol. Too many California Chardonnays get to 14-15% alcohol, too much for m

2011 Rosato di Refosco

2010 Due Uve 84% syrah, 16%merlot

2010 Blaufrankisch, Sylvanus Vineyard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mawW6a_1TQ4&noredirect=1 Chris Tracy on the 2010 harvest u tube from Sept 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=R5xWqCctuuk rolling around the sculpture garden in the  “humansphere”

(Some of) The People Behind the Vines at Channing Daughters

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Having spent much of the last couple of decades with my nose in a glass of wine, I like to occasionally look up and get to know the people that devote themselves to growing grapes, and making wine. They are special people. Some come from winemaking families and like other farm families carry on the tradition of making wine from generation to generation. Others take great lateral leaps in life and jump into the wine biz, hopefully feet first, from some totally unrelated enterprise. Walter Channing, founder of Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton New York is of the latter type as is the team that makes the wine magic. Channing Daughters’ story is especially interesting and it’s hard to  taste through their unique range of wines without wanting to know whose creative imagination came up with these wonderful wines. This is not your average chocolate and vanilla, Chardonnay and Merlot winery.

Walter Channing began as a successful venture captialist as founder of C.W. Group with a penchant for wood sculpting first from recovered wood from demolished New York City  piers and then at his Bridgehampton location from unearthed tree stumps. To me his work from the natural forms of the nethers of trees evokes some humor,  as well as irony at the kinship between these beautiful forms and the human body, they’re tree spirits if you will. The vineyards were planted here in Bridgehampton in 1982 and the winery and surrounding areas are decorated with his art. Here’s video of the sculpture garden from the POV of the “humansphere”.
Chris Tracy continually pushes the envelope as winemaker. I get the feeling he is out to try every combination of grapes, barrels and winemaking technology possible. It may come from the love of wine of a former sommelier and the innovative nature of a former Manhattan chef.  As he says “its just the magic of giving the wines some love” and “we seek deliciousness”. As far as I’m concerned they seek delicousness every way possible and definitely think outside of the box in their approach. Producing some 7,000 cases a year spread out over about 26 separate bottling they use well known varieties like Chardonnay and Merlot as well as more esoteric varieties like Tocai Friulano and different clones of Muscat for whites. The cool climate red varieties like Refosco, Lagrein and Blaufrankisch make sense given the fairly cool climate of  Long Island. He experiments with all sorts of blends, fermentation techniques, even oak from france, America, Hungary and Slovenia. Here’s video of  Chris engaged in the 2010 crush.  2010 was a GREAT vintage and will be well represented at our tasting of Channing Daughter wines this Saturday March 31 beginning at 3pm at Mora’s Fine Wines.

Here’s the winery info, I recommend a visit before the summer craziness of the Hamptons begins.
Channing Daughter Winery 1927 Scuttlehole Road Bridgehampton NY 11932
tel 631-537-7224 http://www.channingdaughters.com/

Correns: mini-Eden

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 We poured a french rosé at the weekly tasting recently and were curious about its “biologique certifié” designation on the label. Being such a pretty wine and being curious about the background of organic products we looked up its roots. The wine is from a village  co-op in the town of Correns, in the Var, southern France. Turns out  the whole town has been certified 100% organic since 1995! It is a small town with only 815 people in 2006 but they produce many other agriculture products including olives and more recently they’ve seen a big increase in production of aromatic and medicinal herbs. Sounds like a little eden, I’m jealous. Here’s a link about Correns and  BTW the wine from Correns we currently carry is:

Saturday Tasting with Vision Brands: Argentina, Australia, Chile & France

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Stop by Saturday starting at 3pm for a great tasting with one of our newer suppliers of fine wines. We’ll be doing 7 interesting wines including Semillon from Chile, Grenache from Australia and some excellent values from the  south of France. Here’s the line up hope to see you at the shop.

Viu Manent Sauvignon Blanc Secreto de Viu Manent 2010
88 Points – International Wine Cellar, May/June 2011
“Bright straw. High-pitched aromas of grapefruit, lemongrass and pungent herbs, plus a hint of chalk in the background. Racy and very tightly wound, offering dry citrus and herb flavors and showing very good intensity. Uncompromising, firm and energetic, exhibiting strong finishing tartness and cut.” -Josh Raynolds

Ricardo Santos Semillon Mendoza 2010
88 Points – Wine Spectator, November 2011
“While Ricardo Santos has built a reputation on Malbec, he has always wanted to make a crisp, fruity white wine to pair with simple, classic foods. Recently, he was inspired by the Semillon grapes that his friend and neighbor Roberto Azzareto grows on his 70-year-old vineyard. The wine has an intense yellow color with delicate, fruity aromas. The flavor is grassy with a fruity acidity and no oak.” -The Importer

Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rose 2010
90 Points – International Wine Cellar, September 2011
“Light peach skin color. Wild red berries, orange zest and honeysuckle on the mineral-accented nose. Fresh, lithe and precise, offering tangy red fruit and citrus flavors and a deeper note of bitter quince. Shows very good clarity and balance, finishing sappy, precise and long.” -Josh Raynolds

Alpha Box & Dice Grenache Tarot 2008
89+ Points – International Wine Cellar
“Bright ruby. An intensely floral nose features red berry preserves, rose, jasmine and candied licorice. Juicy and perfumed in the mouth, with a silky touch to the intense raspberry and floral pastille flavors. Youthfully fruity wine, with tangy acidity that needs a little time to harmonize with the primary fruit. The note of candied flowers carries through the long, sappy finish.” -Josh Raynolds

Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone les Champauvins 2008
90 Points – Wine Advocate, August 2010
“70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. A single vineyard wine, directly across the appellation boundary of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Intense, brilliant garnet-red color. The aromas of woods and ripe red berries are typical of the terroir. The tannic structure is elegant and smooth. The finish is dominated by slight touches of spices and truffles. A complete wine, rich and fine.” -The Importer

First Drop Cabernet Sauvignon Mother’s Ruin 2009
90 Points – Wine Advocate, February 2012
“Very deep garnet-purple colored, the 2009 Mother’s Ruin Cabernet Sauvignon offers pronounced notes of creme de cassis and plum preserves with nuances of chocolate, Ceylon tea and tobacco. Full bodied and rich in the mouth, it has firm grainy tannins, refreshing acid and a long finish. Drink it now to 2018+.” -Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Shinas Estate Shiraz The Guilty 2008
“Ripe shiny blackberry red. Voluptuous cherry, vanilla and peppery spice aromas and full-bodied flavours packed with smoky vanillin oak, cherry and strawberry fruits, chocolate and mocha all wrapped up in a big, rich, velvety smooth package. A juicy wine with fine tannins, the pepper detected on the nose kicks in again to make a welcome re-appearance on the powerful finish. Made from low yielding old vines dating back to 1898 and aged in older French oak, the fruit is sourced from Mildura on the north west Victorian border.” -Sue Courtney, Wine of the Week.com

My Take on :St. Patrick’s Day Tasting Saturday March 17 at O’Mora’s

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As usual we did an extremely broad mix of wines and one of our favorite Irish whiskies at the end in honor of St. Pat’s. Here’s my take on the line up so you can live vicariously through my tastebuds.

Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Very intense flavors and aroma of white grapefruit and a hint of herbs and lime. I’d pair it with anything with fresh goat cheese in it and it would be great for ceviche with its complementary acidity.

Les Vignerons de Correns Rose Croix de Basson Provence 2010
The entire village of Correns has been certified organic since 1995 and I really like this little rosé, it reminds me of fresh strawberries and is very fresh and lively.

Chateau Haut-Surget Lalande-de-Pomerol 2009
This was the favorite of the reds, at least in bottles sold at the tasting though the online sales of the Peju are always huge when we put it on sale. The 2009 Bordeaux can do no wrong, they are some of the best I’ve ever had, are ready to drink the mid priced ones are exceptional values, I hope they shame Napa a little over their Cab  prices. Anyway this one has a lovely smoky, cedary, graphite thing going on behind the fresh ripe berry and toasty oak flavors. It gets better with about half an hour of breathing.

Tait The Ball Buster 2009
This is the opposite of the Bordeaux, a pure fruit bomb that drenches your mouth with thick blackberry pie flavors. Really rich and mouthwatering.

John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey
Anyone that buys a quart of Bushmill’s or Jameson instead of this is not too bright. Even off sale it is only $30 and the quality blows away the big brands. It is for drinking neat, maybe with a few drops of water and will appeal to a straight bourbon drinker. It doesn’t have the corn taste of Bourbon but is aged 4-10 years in first use Bourbon casks, it also receives no peat treatment. It has nice sweet grainy tastes highlighted by the cask flavors of nuts and toffee. Very smooth and lingering.

Tasting Mar 9, 2012 NoFo Barrel Samples of the great 2010’s at Pellegrini Vineyards

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Carolyn and I made a day of it, and what a day of great tasting! We took up John Larsen on his kind offer to give us a tour of the barrels and tanks in the cellar at Pellegrini Vineyards and Winery in Cutchogue. It was a unique opportunity. The 2010 vintage for Long Island is PHENOMENAL. The wines will probably be bottled in the next month or so and after that the reds go to sleep for a couple of years so it was our last chance to taste this incredible juice right from the barrel in all its glory before its long hibernation. We won’t see these wines again until 2014 probably. Here’s what we got to try:


2010 Vintner’s Pride Merlot barrel sample: This is  made from their best barrels of Merlot round ripe, lush and toasty with plush flavors and aromas of plum pudding and black cherry.

2010 Petit Verdot barrel sample:Petit verdot bottled by itself is fairly new to Long Island and I’ve had some amazing ones, this is one of them. At best, I usually find a hard herbaceous edge to it but not this one.  This was the most impressive and my favorite with big ripe fruit, cassis, blackberry flavors and aromas, the finish just goes on and on. What struck me was how ripe and fruity these wines were. I thought I was tasting California wine, none of the acidity or harder tannins I associate with Long Island wines.

2010 Encore barrel sample: This was also excellent, it is their proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, a Bordeaux style blend if you will. This one like the others reminds me much more of California than Bordeaux though with big ripe blackberry flavors framed in toasty notes of oak and vanilla. Mind you, I believe all the cooperage at Pellegrini is French.

2011 Estate Chardonnay tank sample: After tasting the barrels of reds we went through the tank room and visited the stainless steel fermentation tanks for the the whites. The 2011 whites will be bottled soon and on the market. Though it was a difficult vintage plagued with bad weather, the Pellegrini Chardonnay is showing very well. Nice crisp but balanced green apple flavors and a bit fatter and richer than I’ve encountered in other 2011 wines I’ve tried so far. In the photo above the tank is chilled down to the point that it is icing up in order to “chill filter” the wine. By chilling it down the tartrate crystals and other sediment drops out of the wine and leaves it cleaner.

We’ll be going back for a fun “winemaker’s dinner” June 30th which is actually held at banquet tables in the barrel cellar, too bad all those 2010 barrels will have been bottled and put away for their long hibernation by then.

Tasting Tasting Mar 8,2012: New release of 2005 Cru Barbarescos with Donato and Aldo

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Our favorite Italian wine consultant from Vias Imports (“We Import Passion”) Donato brought by the managing director of Produtorri del Barbaresco, Aldo Vacca to taste me on some recent releases. Its really enlightening to taste with people who live at the winery and are immersed in the culture. Aldo has been tasting and drinking this region’s wines for many years. Here’s Barbaresco in 50 words or less. It is Nebbiolo from Piedmont that is aged one year instead of two as in Barolo. The 2005 riserva Barbarescos we tasted were aged 36 months in large oak cask, the regular Barbaresco bottling is aged 18 months and the Nebbiolo de Langhe is aged only 6 months in oak. Barbaresco tends to be more delicate and lighter bodied than Barolo. If Barolo is a grand cru Burgundy a Comte de Vogue then Barbaresco is a delicate, feminine premier cru. Just a bit of vintage history since 1999 only 2002 and 2003 were fair or poor and the practice at the co-op Produtorri del Barbaresco, they blend the top vineyards’ juice into the regular bottling Barbaresco, so none of the cru’s were made in 2003 but the 2003 regular Barbaresco was a really nice bottle and had all the cru-juice blended into it. That maintains the overall quality of the winery’s production. All the other vintages through 2007 are excellent in Barbaresco with 2007 and 2001 considered exceptional. The 2005 vintage which we tasted was released around last fall and is showing beautifully now. The 2007 regular bottling of Barbaresco was recently released and it is showing really well now too, this was considered a stellar year as well. Here is what we tasted:

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo delle Langhe 2010 This vintag is a bit light and there entry level wine shows it. Not as nice as the 2009 was. It has lighter cherry flavors with a bright acidic grip, needs some food

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2007 from a stellar vintage, This has a nice dark red color, solid to the rim. The nose is ripe, of warm cherries, plum and spice, has some mouth coating tannins and will benefit from further bottle age. This wine aged 20 months in oak. Excellent, rate 92 Winespectator

Riserva Cru Barbarescos: These are from the best, highest, southern facing vineyards that the Produttori owns. They are aged 36 months in oak and are only produced in good vintages. 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 are the recent years for the riservas with 2005’s currently on the market.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco  Moccagatta Riserva 2005 This was my favorite even though the Sordo scored higher and is the personal favorite of the owner of Vias Imports. I got dense concentrated aromas from it with dried cherry and meaty qualities, a little balsamic and bigger flavors of berry, dry flower petals and underlying meaty flavors.  The tannins seemed softer and more resolved  than the other two. This is not on hand but available at present for about $60, the list price is $80 so we have a good price. Please inquire.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Pajé Riserva 2005 Pajé went POW, it grabs your mouth with tannin but is also very fleshy with nice cherry and floral flavors, according to Aldo it is just emerging from its youth, it is at a lovely stage. with a good risotto to tame it it would show beautifully right now and will definitely get better with age. I should mention here that we have about 6 bottles of 2001 Ovello. That is the last of the spectacular 2001 Barbaresco vintage, I haven’t tasted it lately but it should be drinking GREAT. The bottles haven’t even been put on the shelf, they’ve been in our nice cold cellar and are crying out for some lamb or osso bucco.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco  Rio Sordo Riserva 2005 This one is very pretty and floral with livel notes of cherry, dry flower petals, coriander and ground pepper notes. very solid with nicely resolved tannins. I rate it just below the Moccagatta, but that’s just me.

Sparkling Pointe: The Peak of Bubbly Perfection on Long Island, being bubble heads we…

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Visiting Sparkling Pointe  Vineyards & Winery 39750 County Road 48 Southold NY 631-765-0200 Being bubble-heads (Champagne Aficionados) literally our first stop our Mighty (VW) Beetle made was at Sparkling Pointe in Southold almost at the end of the North Fork. I’ve tasted this North Fork wine casually once or twice but the trip to the winery to go through the full range was awesome. Tom and Cynthia Rosicki, the founders and owners of the winery have devoted themselves 100% to making Methode Champenoise. their wine is to me is true to the spirit  of Champagne in every sense except for the source of the grapes and the scale on which they produce. The big houses in Champagne have labyrinthian  caves storing millions of botttles. One shipping container full of Moet falls off a freighter and you’ve lost more than SP’s total production. This is definitely a labor of love.
What’s so great about Champagne? Bordeaux touches the harder senses, it is the wine more based in the senses in an analytical way, Burgundy strikes the emotions and is experienced more sensually but Champagne is more transcendental and touches the spirit. It is experienced through the senses of taste and smell but it seems the flavors and aromas are felt on a higher plane, as if the bubbles are delivering the experience right to your neurons. Champagne is produced by refermenting a special still wine in the bottle often with an addition of yeast and grape sugar known as the dosage (“doe-sauge”) there is then some lees contact after which the lees (fermentation residue) is laboriously removed from each bottle after which there is a considerable amount of bottle aging in the famous caves (“kah-vs”) for at least 14 months but as long as 10 years before release. This results in a wine with two more dimensions of flavor from the lees contact and the refermentation as well as the benifit of much more bottle age than usual with a white wine.

Sadly I find few lovers of Champagne, even amongst my many wine geek friends. Champs are dismissed as frivolous, ceremonial, not a serious wine, not much to it. I say bring on the bubbles! The flavors of high quality, cool climate Chardonnay from chalky soil (think good Chablis) often blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are the backbone of the wine but the secondary flavors from the bottle age which can range from fig newton and other dry fruit to even earthy mushroom scents kick in as well as the characteristic leesy flavors of dough or brioche, or butter cookies or toasted almonds. This all is delivered with lovely finely beaded bubbles and a fresh, brisk acidity that makes it oustanding with food. Except for it being real expensive for the good stuff, I don’t know what there is not to love.

So we were among friends at Sparkling Pointe and had a lovely tasting of a flight of four of their Champagnes with a nice spread of feta stuffed olives, local goat cheese and salmon roe (as close to caviar as we could get).

2007 Brut 15%Pinot Meunier 25%Pinot Noir 60%Chardonnay about $30
Tasting Notes: Very  lovely nose of red fruit, apple, a little citrus, spice and a little almond cookie, very lengthy finish, nice balance on the acidity.4 Years production from Harvest to Flute, 1000 cases. Technical Data: Alc: 12.5% – pH: 3.12 – TA: 8.8 g/l – Residual Sugar: 8 g/l

2006 Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay about $40
Tasting Notes: This one came off a bit flintier and went better with food than on its own. It had a brighty racy nose of apple and lemon rind with notes of animal crackers and baking bread and a dry intense finish
7 Years production from Harvest to Flute, 125 cases. Technical Data: Alc: 12.5% – pH: 3.20 – TA: 8.7 g/l – Residual Sugar: 8 g/l

2002 Brut Seduction 48%Pinot Noir 52%Chardonnay $50-60
At 173 cases it is the smallest vintage of this tete de cuvee wine to date.  With its deep gold color this mature sparkling wine offers fantatstic aromas of brioche and toasty almonds.   Aging 8 years prior to disgorgement, this wine delivers an uncommon effervescence with extremely fine bead and a creamy mousse.
Tasting Notes: Excellent nose of baked apple, pear, quince and toasty almond cookies.  The age  gives it a lovely creamy roundness and some secondary flavors of dried fig. The length and power is impressive yet understated, went really well with our salmon roe.

Free Saturday Tasting March 3: Bordeaux vs. Bordeaux Blends

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Saturday March 3rd starting at 3pm: Stop in for a  fun and informative tasting  which compares (somewhat) similar Bordeaux blends from Bordeaux (France), the Wahluke slope (Washington) and MaClaren Vale (Australia). Find out what a “sense of place” tastes like. We’ll also pour three brand new arrivals to the shop.Cheers.

Chateau de Ribebon Bordeaux Superieur 2009  60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc
89 Points – Wine Spectator, December 2010
“This is ripe and focused, with a solid beam of raspberry ganache and roasted vanilla supported by a nice, graphite-filled finish. Offers good grip, too. Drink now…” -James Molesworth

Desert Wind Ruah Desert Wind Vineyard 2008  46% Merlot 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 14% Cabernet Franc
90 Points – Wine Advocate, August 2010
“The…2008 Ruah is aged 12 months in French and American oak with an already complex nose of cigar box, herbs, olives, cassis, and black cherry. Medium-bodied, ripe…enjoyed now and over the next 6-8 years…” -Jay Miller

d’Arenberg Galvo Garage 2007 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 21% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc
90 Points – Wine Advocate, December 2009 
“The 2007 The Galvo Garage is aged for 12 months in a mix of new and seasoned French oak… displays aromas of spice box, violets, pencil lead, and black currant. Medium to full-bodied and structured…drink well from 2011 to 2019.” -Jay Miller

MacRostie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2009
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast, December 2011
“Made from various vineyards scattered around this huge appellation, MacRostie’s ’09 Chardonnay offers brilliantly etched fruit brightened by crisp, coastal acidity. Strikes a nice balance between ripe pears and sweet, vanilla-scented oak.” -Steve Heimoff

Stickybeak Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2009
89 Points – International Wine Cellar, May/June 2011
“Light, bright red. Strawberry and raspberry on the nose, with complicating notes of white pepper and dried rose. Light-bodied and brisk, with good clarity to its red fruit flavors. The firm finish features good grip and a hint of bitter chocolate; I’d like a bit more give but this drinks easily.” -Josh Raynolds

Penley Estate Shiraz Hyland Coonawarra 2009
90 Points – Wine Advocate, February 2012
“Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2009 Hyland Shiraz has notes of warm mulberries, plums and blueberry preserves with nuances of Chinese five spice and aniseed. Concentrated, full bodied and with a medium to firm level of chewy tannins, it has lively acid and a long finish. Drink it now to 2017.” -Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Wine of the Day: Damilano Barolo Cerequio 2006

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Damilano is a quality producer we’ve supported for a number of years, we like the range of their barolos and also have their Barbera and the white Arneis. This “Grand Cru” Barolo from the 1/2 hectare Damilano owns in the Cerquio vineyard is a special wine. The vineyard is shaped like an amphitheater and faces almost due south for excellent sun exposure and ripening. It is one of a handful of truly great vineyard sites in Barolo. We have 1.5L magnum bottles of this barolo coming the week of March 12rh and  all but 3 are spoken for.