Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck has been one of my
favorite North Fork producers ever since my first visit last fall.
Then, they only had two wines available for tasting, a great value
Chardonnay and a tremendous 2002 “young vines” Merlot, which was touted
recently as Long Island’s best red in a New York Times article by Eric

I don’t agree with how Asimov came to this conclusion (no matter how
good the wine is) but let’s get back to Shinn Estate Vineyards, which
debuted four new wines at Windows On Long Island on April 25.

I’ve written several times about my love of Long Island Sauvignon
Blanc, and I have a new crush – Shinn Estate Vineyards 2004 Sauvignon
Blanc-Semillon ($18)
With a refined nose of grapefruit and lemongrass,
green apple flavors highlighted with fine mineral character, and
tongue-tingling crispness, this blend (which features 3 percent
Semillon) is well balanced, and the ideal counterpart to fresh Long
Island shellfish. It reminds me a bit of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
without the over-the-top herbaceousness.

Owners Barbara Shinn and David Page, with consulting winemaker Roman
Roth, only produced 67 cases of Shinn Estate Vineyards 2004 Rose ($14),
and believe me – it’s not going to last long. 100 percent Merlot, it’s
a gorgeous salmon color and offers a lightly fruity nose and crisp Fuji
apple flavors accented by hints of strawberry. This is a real thirst
quencher, so try it as an aperitif this summer or with a picnic lunch.

The 2003 Shinn Estate Vineyards Merlot ($24) is a smooth, medium-bodied
red that is eighty-eight percent Merlot, five percent Cabernet
Sauvignon, four percent Cabernet Franc, two percent Malbec and one
percent Petit Verdot. The nose is enchanting with faint plum aromas and
vanilla while the
palate offers more plum and dark berry flavors with smooth tannins and
well-integrated oak providing structure. This wine is every bit as good
as the previous vintage and may even prove better with additional
bottle aging. The label no longer carries the name “young vines”
because the vines are four years old now.

While the 2003 Merlot only spent ten months in French oak, the Shinn
Estate Vineyards’ 2002 “Six Barrel” Merlot ($34)
spent a full
twenty-two months in just six small French barrels, resulting in 151
cases of wine. Full-bodied and rich, the wine is ninety-two percent
Merlot, five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and three percent field blend
of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Its nose shows much more
than mere fruit and oak, offering a layered fusion of plums, berries,
cinnamon, allspice and toasted oak. Full, round tannins balance similarly
complex flavors in this generous, extravagant red. This is my favorite
of the new releases and it has aging potential (likely up to ten years).

The Shinn Estate Vineyards tasting room is now open from noon to 5 p.m.
on weekends but I recommend calling 631-804-0367 to reserve a spot in their
vineyard tours (3 p.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays). You’ll spend
half an hour walking through the vineyard with the owners and then head
to their beautifully rustic tasting room to sample wines. For more
information, visit