Channing Daughters Winery's winemaker, Chris Tracy, is a magician with white wines. For the most part though, I find his reds a notch or (and sometimes two) below the level of those beautiful whites. He's no less creative with the reds though.

Take this Channing Daughters Winery 2005 MUDD ($40) a blend of 48% merlot (from Sam McCullough’s Vineyard in Aquebogue), 36% cabernet sauvignon (from Mudd Vineyard in Southold) and 16% Blaufrankisch (from CDW's estate in Bridgehampton).

I don't know many winemakers who would take a Bordeaux-styled blend of merlot and cabernet and throw 16% Blau, which is most commonly known as Lembeger in the U.S., into it, but Chris did. While this wine did spend 21 months in barrel, only 25% was new oak (50% in one-year oak and 25% in neutral oak). A combination of French, Hungarian and American oak was used.

The result is a smooth, supple wine with an interesting, complex nose with aromas of sugar plum, cherry, cinnamon, black pepper, cured meat and cocoa powder. Tasting this wine over the course of two days, it was interesting to see how each of those compoments stepped forward and then back at different times.

Medium-light in body, the tannins are low here, but food-friendly acidity brings just enough structure. The flavors closely match the nose — plums, cherries and spice — with a minerally, meaty note that appears right after the sweet cherry/raspberry mid-palate and carries through to the medium finish where just a little raw oak creeps in with all that spice.

There is a lot to like here, especially if you like what Blaufrankisch brings to the table like I do, but for $40 I think most people want a bit more structure and longevity. I'd recommend drinking this over the next year or three. 120 cases were made.

Producer: Channing Daughters Winery
AVA: Long Island
ABV: 12.5%
Rating:  25
(2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(Ratings Guide)