During our recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, we had the pleasure of staying at the Shinn Vineyards Farmhouse B&B. Following a fabulous lunch at Shinn during Taste Camp back in May, Megan and I agreed that we MUST come back and stay at Shinn—six months later, here we were!
We visited Shinn during harvest, so it was a lot of fun to see (and taste) all the action while we were there. Each morning we took a long jog along their country road lined with vines, while tractors and field hands (and birds and bees) buzzed back and forth between vineyards. Then we returned to the house to enjoy a cup of hot coffee while wandering lazily through Shinn’s vineyards, snacking on nearly ripe grapes. We also spent the mornings watching grapes get sorted and crushed on the crush pad, tasting fresh juice, chatting with their winemaker Anthony Nappa, and generally getting in the way.
Once we had worked up on appetite, we had the pleasure of an amazing breakfast prepared by owner David Page, a former professional chef. We had everything from homemade fruit smoothies to leek and mushroom risotto topped with a fried duck egg. Needless to say, these scrumptious breakfasts got our wine tasting days started on the right foot.
Our tasting at Shinn began in the vineyard with owners Barbara and David. During the walk we learned more about their growing techniques while we sampled Cab Franc and Merlot grapes fresh from the vine. When fellow bloggers Lenn Thompson and Michael Gorton Jr. arrived, we headed into the winery with David and Anthony to sample their current works in progress. We tasted some of the ’09 juice that had already come in, including the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc. I was most impressed with the Pinot Blanc, which was produced as a wild ferment. It was wonderfully crisp, beautiful citrus with touches of petrol – very reminiscent of an Alsatian style.
Tasting raw wine is a treat in itself, but we had the additional treat of sitting in the Shinn “library” and tasting some back vintage wines with the gang:
07 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion – lots of white tea, fully body and tropical fruit, with the addition of a nice briney, mineral quality.
04 Cabernet Franc – raspberry reduction on the nose with lots of cedar and spice, slight floral note on the palate with raspberry, green bean, cassis and a hint of brett(??). Very well integrated tannins and acid – beautiful.
05 Cabernet Sauvignon – lots of cherry, raspberry and red currant. Still a young with beautiful leather tannins and loads of ripe fruit
06 Cabernet Sauvignon – dark fruit with a great black tea component, black currant and nice earthy quality. Smooth and silky, a bit more “ready” than the ’05, hint of mint/eucalyptus on the back of the palate
07 Malbec – roasted chestnut, cocoa, black fruit with fairly racy acidity. Full bodied, young and vibrant.
David was also nice enough to pull out a 95 Cabernet Sauvignon from Bedell Cellars – barnyard and earth, leather, dark fruit and cedar. Ripe plum and blackberry. Still very big tannins and “spicy” acidity.
I appreciate Shinn’s wines not only for how they taste, but also for how they are made—hand-crafted, and with a dedication to sustainable vineyard practices. David, Barbara and Anthony take a very holistic approach to “wine growing.” Megan did a great post on Shinn after our visit during Taste Camp–here is an excerpt:
“Shinn Estate Vineyards has embraced biodynamic principles, and continues to strive for complete sustainability. Shinn uses extensive cover cropping to maximize soil nutrition, to prevent erosion and to encourage biodiversity. They use solar panels to partially power their farmhouse and winery. They also work closely with Cornell University to explore the benefits and risks of various sustainable viticultural techniques and chemical alternatives, and thus contribute to both the knowledge of the field and to others in the region who are struggling with similar challenges.”
Over the next couple of days we sampled Shinn’s regular tasting room lineup — I will give you a tour of those wines in a future post.
Thanks to David, Barbara and Anthony for showing us a great time.