By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Scuttlehole-chardChanning Daughters Winery‘s winemaker, Christopher Tracy, makes several chardonnay-based wines in a wide range of styles. For my money, his all-steel Scuttlehole Chardonnay is consistently the best and is the wine against which I judge other New York wines of its type.

Channing Daughters 2009 Scuttlehole Chardonnay ($17) is proof that stainless steel chardonnay needn’t be one-dimensional and somewhat neutral. The fruit for this wine was all hand harvested and whole-cluster pressed — the norm at Channing Daughters, but not as common with most other steel-feremented chardonnays. Maybe that’s the key difference, particularly the whole-cluster pressing.

The nose is surprisingly expressive and bright, showing layers of green apple, lemon-lime soda, Bosc pear and subtle notes of earthy white pepper.

Medium bodied, the palate is lively and very citrusy, bringing more lemon-lime character with fresh-cut apple and pear skin flavors in the background — all with a great acidic backbone.

The finish isn’t overly long, but it’s not short either, but brings that white pepper note again, along with an earthy, almost-saline note along with citrus juice and citrus zest.

And, it’s a strong value as long as it stays under $20.

Producer: Channing Daughters Winery
AVA: Long Island
ABV: 13%
Production: 1208 cases
Price: $17
Rating: 88

(*Ratings Guide)