Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Channing Daughters Blaufrankish 2010 Mudd West Vineyard (NY)

I guess I need to stop writing about how much I don’t like Blaufrankish, also known as Lemberger. I still hate the stupid moniker – Lemberger – but that said, it’s time I just write about the wine.

Recently, I had the Channing Daughters Blaufrankish 2010. It’s grown on the North Fork of Long Island, at the Mudd West Vineyard. As we all know by now, Blaufrankish is a middle-European dark red grape found in cool climates such as Austria or even in the Friuli region of Italy where it is known as Franconia.

But let me ask this question next – Blaufrankish on Long Island? They can grow Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir, and merlot and Petite Verdot on Long Island. Why grow a cool weather grape like Blaufrankish on Long Island? No one else I know of is making Blaufrankish on the island as a single varietal. It’s an odd decision for a number of commercial reasons, but for an idiot savant wine geek like myself, it’s downright interesting.

Being a cool weather red grape, Blaufrankish can withstand cooler temperatures and a shorter growing season and still produce a fairly decent red wine with color, depth of flavor, and be something interesting rather than a big, flat blob. That’s the selling point of Blaufrankish, at least to east coast winemakers.

As you might expect, the experiment must have yielded some nice fruit because the extent wine is a lovely accomplishment.  As advertised there were red and black cherry, with a hint of plum, some blackberry, and a slight, slight whiff of spice. It’s a nice medium-bodied red, with nice mouthfeel, and good solid fruit up front. The wine is nicely balanced with good acids, which keep the fruit slightly more fresh than dark, and a decent tannins which give it more of a backbone.

Everyone seems to know Walter Channing and partner Larry Perrine from Channing Daughters, but the real star turn here is by winemaker Christopher Tracey. According to the winery’s website, Christopher's initial involvement with Channing Daughters Winery was as a Wine Club Member, then as a Team Merlot member. In 2001 Christopher began developing several new products and prestige cuvees for the winery. Through the introduction of indigenous yeast fermentations, longer extraction periods, small batches, crop reduction, astute barrel control, and most importantly, blending, he believes Channing Daughters and the Long Island region will keep on growing and producing world-class wines. As Christopher says, "its just the magic of givin' the wines some love." He is now a partner in the company, as well as the winemaker.

This is a much deeper Blaufrankish than I have ever had before outside of it’s Austrian progenitors. And much better than any other I have experienced. There is no question the Channing Daughters Mudd West Vineyard 2010 comes closer to producing a seminal red wine whose grape is from middle-Europe, that can withstand the rigors of an east year, and still produced a sophisticated and sexy red, than any other I have yet tasted.

I still hate Lemberger….but I absolutely loved this Blaufrankish!!!