The last time we went to Channing, it was with the intent to resign our wine club membership. We were persuaded to stay in the club when we learned we could switch from home delivery to pick-up at the winery, and go whenever we had time, even if it meant getting several selections at once.
We only had one installment to pick up, but we had decided to take some guests on the ferries from Greenport to Sag Harbor, and make a day of it. The ferries are not cheap, so it would not be cost-effective to go that route every time we needed to pick up wine (since we can drive around, through Riverhead), but on the other hand there was no way we were going to brave the traffic on Route 27 in the summer. Been there, sat there.
The ferries were fun for our visitors, especially two little ones who were excited to get out of their car seats and stand in the car while it floated across Peconic Bay. We also enjoyed strolling through Sag Harbor, visiting old favorites like the Wharf Shop and Blooming Shells. After a picnic lunch at the beautifully re-done Mashashimuet Park playground, we headed to Channing, intending to just pick up our shipment. But we hadn’t reckoned with the blandishments of the hospitable tasting room servers, who suggested that we “just try the new releases.”
The small members of the party admired Walter Channing’s huge wood sculptures and read their books while we did a quick tasting.
My notes are skimpy, because we hadn’t intended to do a tasting, plus, as the designated driver I only took a sip of each wine. But I think you can get a sense of what we love about Channing: the great variety of their wines and their brave spirit of experimentation.
1. 2018 Sauvignon Blanc $23
With its lovely lemon grass flavor, this is a perfect oyster go-with.
2. 2018 Rosato Petillant Naturel Cabernet Sauvignon $28
Delicious! A fizzy, fruity, yeasty, dry sparkler, we agreed we could drink this as a toast or an aperitif or with food. Charcuterie, perhaps?
3. 2018 Sylvanus Petillant Naturel $28
A blend of 50% pinot grigio, 40% muscat-ottonel, and 10% pinot bianco, this is a great illustration of the Channing experimentalism. It has a nice aroma of pineapple, but I did not particularly like it.
4. 2016 Blaufrankish $28
Another unusual blend, this is 75% blaufrankish and 25% dornfelder. It is dry, with tastes of blackberry and other dark fruits. Channing suggest you can age this 6-8 years. By the way, it is great fun to read the descriptions of their wines on their web site, which goes into intricate detail on the wines.
5. Vermouths $28 (most of them)
I didn’t taste the vermouths, but those who did said they would be great to drink on ice or in a cocktail.
Reasons to visit: still the greatest variety of wines anyone makes on the East End; best winery on the South Fork (though Wölffer is also quite good, it is a much more formal setting); vermouths, petillant naturels (they make ten in all, though not all are available at all times); beautiful sculptures made by Walter Channing.