Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck has been one of my favorite North Fork producers ever since my first visit last fall. Then, they only had two wines available for tasting, a great value Chardonnay and a tremendous 2002 “young vines” Merlot, which was touted recently as Long Island’s best red in a New York Times article by Eric Asimov.
I don’t agree with how Asimov came to this conclusion (no matter how good the wine is) but let’s get back to Shinn Estate Vineyards, which debuted four new wines at Windows On Long Island on April 25.
I’ve written several times about my love of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc, and I have a new crush – Shinn Estate Vineyards 2004 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon ($18) With a refined nose of grapefruit and lemongrass, green apple flavors highlighted with fine mineral character, and tongue-tingling crispness, this blend (which features 3 percent Semillon) is well balanced, and the ideal counterpart to fresh Long Island shellfish. It reminds me a bit of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc without the over-the-top herbaceousness.
Owners Barbara Shinn and David Page, with consulting winemaker Roman Roth, only produced 67 cases of Shinn Estate Vineyards 2004 Rose ($14), and believe me – it’s not going to last long. 100 percent Merlot, it’s a gorgeous salmon color and offers a lightly fruity nose and crisp Fuji apple flavors accented by hints of strawberry. This is a real thirst quencher, so try it as an aperitif this summer or with a picnic lunch.
The 2003 Shinn Estate Vineyards Merlot ($24) is a smooth, medium-bodied
red that is eighty-eight percent Merlot, five percent Cabernet
Sauvignon, four percent Cabernet Franc, two percent Malbec and one
percent Petit Verdot. The nose is enchanting with faint plum aromas and
vanilla while the
palate offers more plum and dark berry flavors with smooth tannins and well-integrated oak providing structure. This wine is every bit as good as the previous vintage and may even prove better with additional bottle aging. The label no longer carries the name “young vines” because the vines are four years old now.
While the 2003 Merlot only spent ten months in French oak, the Shinn Estate Vineyards’ 2002 “Six Barrel” Merlot ($34) spent a full twenty-two months in just six small French barrels, resulting in 151 cases of wine. Full-bodied and rich, the wine is ninety-two percent Merlot, five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and three percent field blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Its nose shows much more than mere fruit and oak, offering a layered fusion of plums, berries, cinnamon, allspice and toasted oak. Full, round tannins balance similarly complex flavors in this generous, extravagant red. This is my favorite of the new releases and it has aging potential (likely up to ten years).
The Shinn Estate Vineyards tasting room is now open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends but I recommend calling 631-804-0367 to reserve a spot in their vineyard tours (3 p.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays). You’ll spend half an hour walking through the vineyard with the owners and then head to their beautifully rustic tasting room to sample wines. For more information, visit http://www.shinnestatevineyards.com/.