"There is no reason to produce wimpy little pink wines with no varietal character."
That's what David Page, co-owner of Shinn Estate Vineyards said when I asked him about his 2006 Rose ($16)--a much richer, bolder wine than many local bottlings. He's right, the strawberry- and watermelon-scented wine with a faint buttery note is far from wimpy. It's medium bodied and much rounder and fuller on the palate--but still balanced with gentle acidity and even a little tannic structure. While not the style I prefer, it's hard to argue with this wine's versatility. Page recommends it with "everything from lobster rolls on the beach to charred steaks in the backyard."
Two white wines--both summery and fresh--are also extremely food friendly--at tip of the cork to Page's pedigree as a chef.
On the nose, Shinn Estate Vineyards' 2006 Chardonnay ($18) is vaguely reminiscent of sauvignon blanc with grapefruit, lemon and hints of grassiness and minerals. Fresh-picked green apples and citrus dominate a simple but mouth-watering plate that is framed by briney minerality and plenty of acidity. A salad made with the season's best local produce, maybe some grilled shellfish and a bottle of this wine would make a nice summer lunch.
My favorite--by a substantial margin--is Shinn Estate Vineyards' 2006 First Fruit ($23) which is primarily sauvignon blanc, with just a squirt (4%) Semillon. Right out of the bottle, the nose is a little taut and doesn't offer much, but with a little coaxing, bright, fresh aromas of juicy pear citrus and sweet basil emerge. Medium bodied and flavorful the pear flavors are lip-smackingly delicious, with subtle ruby red grapefruit and terrific acidity. The herbal character of the grape is here, particularly on a surprisingly long minty-lime finish, but it's not aggressive or overbearing. Impeccable balance is on display here. Local seafood prays for this wine when it goes to sleep at night.
As good as these wines are, the first made by Shinn's new winemaker Juan Eduardo Micieli-Martinez--there is something even more exciting happening Shinn Estate.
Earlier this month, Page and his wife Barbara Shinn opened the Shinn Estate Farmhouse--a bed and breakfast right next to their vineyard, tasting room and winery.
Of the bed and breakfast, which is sure to become the premier one-stop Long Island wine destination, Page told me that "Integrating wine, food and lodging under the same roof allows wine lovers to actually 'be somewhere' when they visit us. Dodging in and out of one winery after another does not always create the sense of belonging that a small vineyard inn does. I expect that more wineries will be developing lodging and dining opportunities for their guests. The region needs to see more of this type of eco-friendly development in order to keep farming viable. Our local communities need to make every effort to give wineries the tools they need to accomplish this kind of preservation.
Of course, the chef in Page is excited about the new venture for other reasons as well. "I just got out of the kitchen after serving Crescent Farms smoked duck hash alongside Catapano goat cheese omelets to ravenous guests. How tough could life get? Having the opportunity to be a chef, farmer and winemaker on the same day, every day. That is a dream come true!"