Give me some skin

Channing Daughters Meditazione 2006

Click to go to the Channing Daughters website

Click to go to the Channing Daughters website

Appellation: Long Island
Varieties: Tocai Friulano 36%, Pinot Grigio 25%, Sauvignon Blanc 17%, Chardonnay 10.3%, Muscat Ottonel 9.5%, Viognier 1.2%, Malvasia Bianca 1%. Yeah, a bunch of grapes, so to speak.
ABV: 13%
Price Point: $40
Looks: Bold, deep golden color with a tinge of orange, somewhat like Sauternes.
Nose: Floral, orangey Muscat-like nose, with lemon peel and pineapple, LOTS going on.
Palate: Unlike any white wine I’ve had. There is some {astringency} to it! Unripe honeydew shows up on the perfumey palate, which also reminds me of peach iced tea. Great {mouthfeel}. Full-bodied, complex, and beautifully balanced, this white drinks like a red. It’s really unique.
Rating: corkcorkcorkhalfcork for an interesting aromatic white with panache.

Not everyone will like this wine, at least not at first. The muscat can be a bit overly perfumey for me. I’d also recommend having it at room temperature (cold can increase perception of bitterness and astringency, Ross and Weller, “Effect of serving temperature on the sensory attributes of red and white wines”, Journal of Sensory Studies, 2008, and if you don’t believe that, make some tea and try it hot, then put it in the refrigerator and try it cold). Basically, if you treat it like a red, this wine will do nicely. Its price and overall qualities make this more of a special occasion wine to me, but I believe it can function as more than just a curiosity in a wine sideshow. (Barker: Step right up! See the white wine fermented… on its own skins! Crowd: *gasp* Victorian ladies: *swoon*)

Channing Daughters is based on Long Island and uses grapes from both the North Fork and Hamptons. Perusal of the wine list on the website will quickly let you know that this winery is not about producing ordinary wines. This wine is no exception.

Check out the color!

Check out the color!

Unlike most white wines, which are pressed before fermentation, separating the juice from the skins, this wine is fermented ON the skins*, providing the somewhat rare experience of a white wine with noticeable tannin. I’m sure it also contributes to the fantastic color. (NB: Channing Daughters makes a few other whites with varying degrees of skin contact which I have not tried but would like to.)

For many readers, there are some unfamiliar grape varieties packed into this wine, likely because tocai fruilano and malvasia bianca are typically varietals grown in northern Italy. Lots of peoples’ wine varietal education starts with France: Bordeaux (merlot, cabernet, sauvignon blanc), Burgundy (pinot noir, chardonnay), Alsace (riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris). They then move on to California (all of the above, plus zinfandel), then the rest of the New World (Aussie shiraz, Argentine malbec, NZ sauvignon blanc, etc.) and sometimes never really make it to the “Italy” chapter of the book. At least this is the case with me. (NB: I’ve recently decided to add some Italian flair to my cellar, picking up a case including barbera, sangiovese, malvasia bianca, freisa, and others. Working on it…) I suppose one exception to this unfamiliarity is the ubiquity of pinot grigio, which may stem from consumers’ delight in saying “pinot grigio” out loud. Many FL producers will bottle a pinot gris/grigio.
It turns out that lots of great wines come out of Italy, along with lots of different grape varietals. Northeast Italy is a slightly cooler climate. It makes me wonder if there is a reason (beyond name recognition and marketing) that more Italian varietals aren’t grown in quantity in the Finger Lakes. Ventosa Vineyards does produce a tocai fruilano, which I have yet to try. They also have plantings of sangiovese, and of course, pinot grigio.

This wine was fermented on the skins, allowing extraction of phenolic groups (e.g., tannin) that would normally stay behind in a typical white wine fermentation. White wines fermented on skins have been shown to have an antioxidant capacity similar to that of red wine (Ref: Furman et al., “White Wine with Red Wine-like Properties: Increased Extraction of Grape Skin Polyphenols Improves the Antioxidant Capacity of the Derived White Wine”, J. Ag. and Food Chem., 2001). So if you drink wine strictly for health reasons, you’ve got that going for you. Interestingly, while {tannin} extraction is somewhat dependent on the alcohol content of the fermentation, color will start showing up much sooner. This is why rosé wines (reds pressed off of skins, perhaps with brief skin contact) have some color, but not much noticeable astringency. (Cf. Monday’s entry, the Chateau Frank Blanc de Noirs, made from black grapes [pinot noir and pinot meunier], pressed gently such that little to no color escaped from the skins). Finally, (possibly just so this site gets more hits on google) skin contact can even increase levels of the wine media darling resveratrol, a molecule which in itself merits its own discussion at a later time (Ref: Darias-Martín et al., “Effect of skin contact on the antioxidant phenolics in white wine”, Food Chemistry, 2000).

Published in: on 9 April 2009 at 4:24 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] “corn on the cob”.) Channing Daughters Meditazione 2007 (I reviewed 2006 Meditazione here) Channing Daughters Envelope 2007 (another skin-fermented white) Channing Daughters Rosato Cabernet […]

  2. […] written about a Channing Daughters wine before, the Meditazione. This winery is doing some really innovative things on Long Island, and I’m all about more […]

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