By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Shinn_09wild My feelings about barrel-influenced chardonnay are well documented — and I hear comments about them from winemakers and other local wine geeks all the time.

It's simply not my favored style. It's rare that I'd reach for a bottle on any given night of the week. And while sometimes food does call for one, there are other options that tend to find their way onto my dinner table.

But, that doesn't mean I can't recognize when oaked chardonnay is done well, like this Shinn Estate Vineyards 2009 Wild Fermented Chardonnay ($33).

I don't get caught up in how "natural" a wine is — I care much more about deliciousness — but often appreciate the complexity and mouthfeel of wild-fermented wines. This is no exception.

The nose starts off with sweet cedar (no doubt from 10 months in French oak) with subtle vanilla, butter and apple blossom bringing nuance to ripe apple-pear and peach flavors.

Once in the mouth, I wrote down "texturally stunning" to describe the mouthfeel, which is intense and rich but also lithe and fresh, with less oak and butter apparent on the palate.

Flavors of mandarin orange, peach and pear are backed by light saline minerality and an earthy note beneath.

With some time in bottle — and I think this wine will age well for 5+ years — that overtly oaky note on the nose should integrate. A definite re-taste in 6-12 months…if there is any left.

Producer: Shinn Estate Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13.8%
Production: 56 cases
Price: $33*
Rating: 88