Too often, the term "food friendly" is meant as a negative in wine journalism — applied to wines deemed unable to bring pleasure on their own. This, of course, is absolutely ludicrous. It's impossible to separate the two. Food and wine are forever intertwined -- like Abott and Costello, peanut butter and jelly, or the Pittsburgh Steelers and Super Bowl rings.
Labeling a bottling as a "food wine" should be an accolade, not a comment on its overall quality.
Given their pedigree as restaurateurs, it's no surprise that David Page and Barbara Shinn, owners of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, bring a chef's sensibility to winemaking. Their new releases, from a fresh sauvignon blanc to a lighter-bodied merlot blend to this aromatic, fun Bordeaux-style blend, these wines are right at Home (also the name of their Greenwich Village restaurant) on the dinner table.
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2004 "Wild Boar Doe" (Boar Doe — Bordeaux. Get it?) ($22), is made with 40% merlot, 23% cabernet sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 15% petit verdot and 5% cabernet franc.
Interesting and deeply aromatic the abundant nose is reminds one of local fresh raspberries with wisps of summer herbs and smoky black pepper. The palate is medium bodied and soft up front with peppery red raspberry flavors that lead to a medium-long finish with a little acidity. Sensible use of oak has preserved the fruit character and aromatics in this wine — a great choice in a cooler year. Drink now or over the next three to five years with stews or grilled meat.
David told me on a recent visit that they are focusing their style toward highly aromatic wines -- and this wine is most certainly in line with that.
All of Shinn Estate Vineyards' wines are made with estate-grown grapes from their North Fork vineyard. You can the wines in restaurants both on Long Island and in Manhattan, or you can order online from their website.