Wine Blog Awards

Wine Blog Awards

Wine Blog Awards

Hello readers! My first (almost) year of the blog has been a joy, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. If so, please go nominate me for best new wine blog, or your favorite entry at and thanks in advance for your support. More great content to come!


Author, Wining Daily


Channing Daughters and Murray’s Cheese Tasting and Pairing at City Winery, NYC

New York in New York week: Channing Daughters and Murray's Cheeses Pairing and Tasting Class

New York in New York week: Channing Daughters and Murray’s Cheeses Pairing and Tasting Class

As I mentioned in the previous entry, last week my wife and I went to a wine tasting and pairing of Long Island Winery (surprise, surprise) Channing Daughters and NYC’s perhaps best-known cheese monger, Murray’s. It was part of “New York in New York Week” and was held at City Winery, at their Tribeca location. There is also one in Chicago. This winery is not only a winery, but a top-notch music performance venue where I go to see some of my favorite solo or group performers in an intimate seated dinner setting, with the benefit of a fantastic wine selection. As a premier vinofile member, I am entitled to advanced ticket purchases, among other things. The tasting table was beautiful, positioned directly adjacent to their barrel room for maximum ambiance. The rattling of the subway below added some unmistakable NYC flare, but not enough to do any damage to the glassware or experience.

You already know about my love for the wines coming out of the North Fork of Long Island, though I have never tried one from the South Fork. This area has three wineries vs. the 40 or so on the North Fork. Channing is located in Bridgehampton; the Hamptons being more known for celebrity mansions and beaches. I have heard great things about their wine and I was not disappointed. My wife had her first ‘orange wine’ from Channing.  These are fermented on the skins like red wine but from white grapes. You will therefore also get the tannins and body more like a red wine. Some are also slightly oxidized, giving you similar aromas to sherry wine. They are a bit of a hot fad these days and getting a fair share of criticism from skeptics or wine purists however they’ve been making them like this for millenia in the region now known as the countries of Georgia and Slovenia, so perhaps those critics should do their homework. They tend to be more expensive as they are not made in large scale. And you can pair them with meat just as easily as fish, and in any order.  Channing is one of the few US winemakers to make the wine under the guidance of head winemaker Christopher Tracy, the first being in 2004.

That night, it was Christopher himself guiding us through 5 of their wines paired with 5 fine cheeses under the guidance of Murray’s Cheese expert Beth. Currently a candidate for the MW program, he has many qualifications from the Sommelier Society, the WSET and Certified Wine Educators. But best of all, he has a very friendly, unpretentious and accessable demeanor that made the experience a joy. Everyone interprets wine differently, and a good educator is not only someone who can teach and loves the subject, but one that makes it fun and accessable. My WSET instructor was the same way, and learning with him only amplified my passion for the subject as I studied. He invited us to visit the winery this summer and ask for him personally. That’s a no-brainer. The 5 wines and tasting /pairing notes below.

Sylvanus 2010 – A hand-picked , whole-cluster pressed, bone dry and aromatic blend of 60% Muscat, 30% Pinot Grigio and 10% Pinot Blanco. The grapes were grown, harvested and fermented together. The wine is named after the vineyard and a legendary ‘green man’ who they honor ( I meant to get the story on that, but did not).  Its purpose is capturing terroir and time and place. Both steel and oak fermented, it was tangy and lively with floral, grapefruit and honeysuckle notes.  Paired with La Tur cheese, a creamy cow, sheep and goats milk blend described as ‘ice cream without the sweet’.

Pinot Grigio 2010 – a pleasantly citrus-tinged wine with chalky minerality and pear fruit that were to me extremely reminiscent of Loire Chenin if I didn’t know any better. Definitely not the bulk type Pinot Grigio that gives it a bad rap outside of those in regular contact with good wine. Also grown and harvested by hand and fermented in both oak and steel. Actually its 88% Pinot Grigio and 12% Chardonnay. The fruit is both from the Channing vineyards and Mudd West in the nearby North Fork. Paired with Valencay, a wonderful Loire (and hence brilliant match IMHO) pasteurized goat cheese that is cave-aged. A wonderful story behind it too. Its pointed tips reminded Napoleon so much of his failure in Egypt (think pyramids) that he demanded they be removed.

Rosato Di Syrah 2012 – things just got even more interesting, as the next two wines were both rosés, but this one was made from a red grape and the next from a white grape, like the orange wines described above. This one had a nice floral and berry nose and palate with nice body, yet still dry in a Provencal style. After 3-4 hours in the press it is then steel-fermented and made like a white wine in every other way. The fruit was specifically selected and picked for a rosé wine. It paired wonderfully with Berkswell cheese from the West Midlands of England. Dry and musky and delicious, this was my favorite cheese. Lanolin notes and even some wild berry can be found within.

Ramato 2010 – the “orange” wine of the evening (see my description above), its name refers to the original Fruilian style — Pinot Grigio fermented on the skins over a period of 13 days. Pear, citrus, clove spice and baked fruit aromas compliment its nicely balanced acidity and body. To me it was reminiscent and similar to white Pinot Noirs I’ve had a lot of recently. This will pair with just about any meat or cheese out there, and did so with the Vacherin, a creamy Swiss mountain cheese, known for its use in fondue. It is aged 3 months in caves wrapped in cheesecloth.

Due Uve – Last was this Rhône-style Syrah, with 16% Merlot in the blend. The grapes are from North Fork vineyards and are de-stemmed and harvested by hand into bins where they are crushed by foot, punched down and fermented “wild” which means with naturally occuring yeast. Second fermentation is 16 months in neutral oak and it’s unfiltered and gravity-bottled. It had lovely black fruit, stone, pepper and a bit of wildflower notes. Deep ruby, classy and light but I feel strong enough to hold up with spicy dishes. It went great with Cabot clothbound cheddar, an amazing cheese aged 12-13 months and just a little sharp and nutty all at once.

Apparently they also make a Blaufrankisch, an Austrian red variety I have yet to try as well as wines using Tokai and Malvasia. I will be visiting this summer for sure!

City Winery, NYC

Make your own wine at City Winery

Make your own wine at City Winery

I don’t know where to start on this one. Should it be last night’s amazing tasting and pairing of Long Island’s Channing Daughters and their amazing wines with NYC staple Murray’s Cheeses? Meeting yet another winemaker and head cheese, so to speak, while they were hosting and and sharing stories and answering questions over amazing olfactory and gastronomical pleasures? Should it be the restaurant and tasting room where I bought some of their wines made on site, or viewing the large barrel room and vinification room complete with the obligatory steel tanks, de-stemmers and sorting tables where they were made and aged? Perhaps the winemaking classes where you can meet with their winemaker, pick your source of juice and blend and age your own private label wine with their on-site winemakers? (my friends, this is going to happen, I promise) Or maybe the first-class music venue. And all of this in the heart of New York City. I was blown away on so many levels. Joining their premium membership not only gets me perks on wine events, but advanced presales on concerts. Double bonus.

Winemaking room, City Winery NYC

Winemaking room, City Winery NYC

I still don’t really know what to do but fill out the forms to start making my own wines and think about how to tell you about the great wines I tasted from Channing Daughters.

Can I defer ? — I’ve got some thinking to do but I wanted to share my excitement while it was fresh.  In the meantime, will you check this place out — you really must. There’s one in Chicago too.

North Fork Live Blog Day 3: Lenz Winery & Bedell Cellars

Lenz Winery, Peconic, NY

Lenz Winery, Peconic, NY

For this last day at the North Fork of Long Island I am back at a few favorites to stock up ! I just left Lenz whose Blanc de Noir was on the top of my list (I reviewed it here last year) and I was impressed with their Gewürztraminer as well. I was also quite giddy seeing the workers out pruning the shoots on the vines in preparation for budburst as well as seeing head winemaker Eric Fry and his team working on the next vintage in the winery.

Tasting at Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue, NY

Tasting at Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue, NY

I am now at another favorite, Bedell Cellars whose 2010 first crush I reviewed as another favorite last year. Consider this my first vertical tasting as I just had the 2011 which has the addition of 20% Syrah which has added a nice spice to last year’s fruit-forward blend ( which I obviously loved). I like both a lot. 2010 was hot and the fruit really stood out in a way I adored, and while 2011 didn’t have as hot a year, this is a beautifully balanced wine and the Syrah addition is a nice touch. Their 2011 Cabernet Franc is also very nice as well as their 2010 Gallery white which is a pricier (but worth it) showcase blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. The tasting room and feel here are more modern and contemporary. Visit both when you can.

North Fork Live Blog Day 2: Croteaux vineyards

Croteaux Vineyards Rosé tasting

Croteaux Vineyards Rosé tasting

I am sitting here in an absolutely beautiful farmhouse complete with an antique barn and endless rows of French and California cloned vines of Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Franc stretching beyond into the distance. Except that Croteaux is all rosé. The tasting room studio is an attic barn space painted with bright Provençal colors and and windows all around overlooking the 1600’s barn and vineyards. It is also filled with the owner’s currently in-process paintings ( and hence the pleasantly pungent aroma of oil paint) of vines and other oenophilea. This art studio vibe is an enticing enhancement to the room. I can imagine the owner painting all week while overlooking his vineyards and listening to French music and can almost transport myself there. And dream of the same life. We tried six different rosé wines with some baguettes and the favorites were the Chloé Sauvignon Blanc rose and the Jolie Cabernet Franc rosé, the latter of which had nice complexity in the aromas including black cherry, currant, rosemary and other wild herbs. It has a fuller body and light rouge color. The former having expected grassy notes and more herbaceous notes but a lighter body and typical rosé characteristics. I will be back for both the ambiance and the wine!


North Fork Live Blog Day 1: The Winemaker’s Studio

The Winemaker's Studio

The Winemaker’s Studio

I am very happily camped out at The Winemaker’s Studio, a small shop and tasting room which is the result of many local winemakers’ getting to do their own private labels through a local crushing co-op. There are many to choose from, and the quality here shows their experience. The menu has each winemaker’s story and current wine offerings. The a la carte menu of 12 or so wines changes weekly. The best of many worlds all at once. We have passed here a few times on our last visits but were always under the impression that it was perhaps a private business.

Everything we’ve had here has been top notch and particularly the Anthony Nappa wines who was formerly the head winemaker at Shinn, who I reviewed here in October after visiting. The “Bordo” Cabernet Franc I just tasted is perhaps the best I’ve had in the region so far. So, so good. Cigar-box aromas and berry spice permeate the nose as well as the palate, and its nice and fruit forward like my other favorite Cabernet Francs. It is fermented ‘wild’ which I assume means in the bins left to macerate upon itself. The finish keeps on going. I am buying two of these. There was a fantastic white Pinot Noir which I will also be bringing home, some great Viogniers, Rieslings, a Cab/Merlot blend, and a very nice dry rosé as well as an ‘orange wine’ which is partially oxidized. Several of these are from Red Hook winery in Brooklyn, whose rosé was one of the first I wrote about on this blog when I tried it at a Brooklyn rooftop BBQ. We will be going to visit Red Hook, as everything we’ve tried of theirs is also very good.

They also do spirit tastings here. While it looks more like a coffee shop, everything here is the real deal, and the staff as knowledgeable as they get. And, there IS fresh coffee available as well as some local beer if that is your craving or a necessity. Next door is a gourmet food shop, and our cheese plate was prepared of gourmet fresh cheeses on the spot.

We have also just joined the Winemaker’s studio wine club. That’s about the highest recommendation I can give. Go!

North Fork Live Blog Day 1: Jamesport Vineyards

Jamesport Vineyards 2011 East End Rosé

Jamesport Vineyards 2011 East End Rosé

Out on the North Fork of Long Island in wine country for my anniversary once again and trying my first live blogging experiment. Upon some recommendations we are at Jamesport vineyards, in the town of the same name, just east of Riverhead and the branch of the two forks – the southern more known for the Hamptons and Beaches and Montauk, the north for wine and quaint maritime towns.

My wife and I did a tasting of 5 wines each including a few whites including a nice Riesling, some Cab Francs from two vintages and Cab Franc blend, a spicy Syrah and Pinot Noir and our first-ever Petite Verdot Rosé. While there was some good stuff going on here, the prices are a bit prohibitive with the Syrah and Cab Franc blend reaching into the $30-$50 range. The tasting room and winery are beautiful, all wood and wood beams with the winemaking equipment on full view behind glass and outside the tasting room. Though we are having a bit of a snowstorm at the moment so that certainly has made it more interesting. I’d like to focus on the Petit Verdot ‘East-End Rosé’ as it really was unique and the one we are walking out with. The nose had apricot and raspberry notes and on the palate more notes of raspberry with some dried strawberry. The acidity and body were well balanced and about a medium. Refreshing but not heavy, like a good rosé should be. And, at only $14, a great value.  On to the next winery where we will also be treated to some live jazz as part of this weekend’s “Jazz on the Vine” festival!