FreshredChanning Daughters Winery, located in Bridgehampton, is one of the most unique wineries on Long Island. While most around here focus on Bordeaux varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon…Channing Daughters is always trying new things.

Think I’m kidding? Sure, they make Merlot, Cab Franc (only in good years though) and a few different Chardonnays…BUT they also make Blaufrankisch, Tocai Friuliano, a Fruilian-style white blend of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco…and grow Dornfelder too. They also try just about every Chardonnay clone you can think of…with some always-interesting results.

Truly an artisanal producer, they make extremely small lots, which almost always sell out to their wine club before even "hitting the street."

Why do you think we had to join the club? These are wines that you have to get your hands on.

This bottle, the 2003 Fresh Red Merlot, is one of the few wines they make every year. And, they make more of this than anything else.

Eyes: This red is much lighter than any Merlot I’ve ever had. Light ruby that almost has a Pinot Noir look to it.

Nose: Light red cherry is paired nicely with a smoky, cigar-box aromas. Maybe even a little black pepper spice…but just a little.

Tongue: It’s super soft and velvety on the tongue. Red cherry and the cigary-box remain…with almost non-existent tannins. This wine is uncomplicated and very drinkable .

Price: $15

Overall: Extremely charming and "Fresh Red" is a good name for it I’ve always been a fan of this wine (see my review of the 2002 vintage) and it reminds me a bit of a Beaujolais (not Noveau) but with an interesting smokiness that makes it perfect for grilled fare. We drank it last night along side spice-rubbed chicken with cilantro pesto and I think it paired very well. It really begs for the grill though, and they claim it can take a slight chill, which I believe given the lack of tannins.

If it were in the 10 to 12 buck range, it would be a near perfect wine…for what it is…simple, easy to drink and fun.