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What our expert thought of Channing Daughters, Rosato di Cabernet Franc




about this wine About this wine
 
Believe it or not, New York State is the second-largest producer of wine in the USA, behind California (obviously) but ahead of better-known wine regions such as Oregon and Washington.  There are a lot of thirsty New Yorkers so little is exported, even to other US states.
 
Most New York State wine is produced far inland, from vineyards on the south shore of Lake Eyrie or around the Finger Lakes a little to the east.  But this one is from Long Island, home to Queens and Brooklyn and separated from Manhattan itself only by the much-bridged Harlem River.  Long Island is well-named, so while its western end may be covered in skyscrapers and city blocks, the other end, 90 miles away, is positively rustic and it’s there that you find the vineyards.
 
Most of them are to be found on the decidedly agricultural North Fork, where there are 38 wineries scattered amongst the churches and farms.  The South Fork, better known as the Hamptons, is famously where the New York elite have their grand country houses, so land prices are prohibitively high and there are few wineries.  Such vineyards that do exist tend to have been established as a hobby or retirement project by the multi-millionaire who owned the land already.
 
This is just such a one.  Venture capitalist Walter Channing planted the first ever vineyard on the South Fork in 1982, on a corner of his estate that had previously been a potato patch.  Initially it was just a hobby, but by the mid-Nineties it had grown into a commercial operation named after his children, the four Channing Daughters.
 
Chief winemaker Christopher Tracy trained as a sommelier and chef, and draws vinous and culinary inspiration from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy.  Many of the estate’s eclectic range of grape varieties hail from Friuli and each one of the impressive selection of pink wines produced is labelled a rosato  rather than a rosé.  Six different rosati  were made in 2015, but the number fluctuates each year as Christopher assesses whether vintage conditions favour vinifying a particular black variety as a red or a pink.
 
There are always at least three rosés produced: a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot and this one, the Rosato di Cabernet Franc.  The grapes for this wine were whole-cluster pressed and the juice left in the press for just three to four hours to pick up a touch of colour from the skins.  Fermentation and aging is entirely in temperature-controlled stainless steel.
 
the tasting The Tasting
 
This is even paler than most Provençal rosés - a delicate, slightly coppery salmon pink.
 
It has a lovely fresh nose of red berries (redcurrants and strawberries), honeysuckle and stony citrus.  There’s also an intriguing cedary note.  Unlike many rosés, it doesn’t smell estery or confected.  For a rosé it’s positively minerally, and you just know the wine is going to be dry.
 
And it is, but there’s plenty of fruit sweetness on the palate so it doesn’t come over as austere despite the crisp acidity.  It’s medium-bodied - surprisingly big and concentrated given the delicate colour and fresh nose - with satisfyingly multidimensional flavours of light red fruits (raspberry), stone fruit (nectarine) and citrus (pink grapefruit).  There’s also a leafy edge - blackcurrant leaf, perhaps - that hints at its Cabernet Franc origins.
 
That density makes for a long, mouthwatering finish, with no need to rush back for the next sip.
 
Assessment
 
This has just what I look for in a rosé.  It’s dry and food-friendly without being too austere to quaff on its own, and complex enough to repay thoughtful drinking while being so well-balanced and approachable that there’s actually no need to think about it to appreciate it.  (And it’s a gorgeous colour!)
 
Normally I’d look for those qualities in a pink from Provence, but this stomps all over any Provençal rosé I can remember tasting.  I think I’ve just found my new house pink.  The one quality it does lack is cheapness, but that’s sadly true of any quality American wine.  And when it comes to rosé, this one is king of the hill and top of the heap.


Tasting notes

Appearance
clear coppery pale salmon pink
Nose

Intensity medium

Aromas red berries(redcurrant, strawberry), floral (honeysuckle), stony citrus, hint of cedar wood

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness dry, but with sweet fruit

Acidity medium+

Body medium

Intensity medium, but concentrated

Flavours light red fruit (raspberry), stone fruit (nectarine), citrus (pink grapefruit), blackcurrant leaf
Finish

Length medium+

Flavours as palate, mouthwatering acidity
Other notes
Unoaked. Intense but balanced. Very moreish.


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