"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
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!"