As the couple at a nearby table on the Shinn Vineyard’s new and very nice patio noted, it took some searching to find Shinn, but they were glad they had persisted, having wended their way to Oregon Road. We already knew our way, but we were glad we were there, too. In 2017, Shinn was bought by the Frankel family, and they have made some attractive changes, though the place has a less funky vibe than it used to.
On arrival, we were offered seats inside—in the A/C—or outside on the patio. Though it was a warm day, it was not oppressively so, and the patio offered shaded areas. We ended up spending almost an hour there, doing a leisurely tasting plus a couple of other tastes and sharing a delicious cheese board. Reggae music played in the background—I remember one verse mentioning “island sun”—and it was easy to forget we were on Long Island and imagine we were on a tropical island.
The tasting menu offers many options, from a rosé flight for $16, which includes a couple of Croteaux rosés, to our choice, the Winemaker’s Picks, of five of their higher end wines for $28. Why, you may wonder, do they feature Croteaux rosés? Because the Frankel family recently bought Croteaux as well, and have reopened the tasting room and garden there. Our server assured us that they are keeping the Croteaux rosés the same as they were. We’ll have to check that out!
Our server brought the wines to us, the three whites first and then, when we had finished them, the two reds, carefully placed on a little mat which had labeled spots for each wine. She also brought us a glass bottle of water and two plastic cups, a nice touch.
After we finished the five wines in our tasting, we still had quite a bit of cheese left of the $14 cheese board, so we each added one more taste, which I have put at the end of the listing. These also came on tiny round coasters with labels for what they were.
1. 2018 Concrete Blonde $40
Why this name? The sauvignon blanc is aged in a concrete “egg” made, we are informed, from “French soil,” instead of in steel or oak. Macari also uses this method, and you can find a discussion of the concrete egg in my entries on that winery. The aroma of the wine is lovely, floral, like a bouquet of summer flowers. The wine is more reminiscent of a chardonnay than a sauvignon blanc, almost creamy, with a citrus taste that is like a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. It doesn’t really complement the cheese, but would be quite nice with charcuterie.
2. 2016 Haven $35
What, I wondered, is referenced by the name of this blend, of 70% sauvignon blanc, 20% semillon, and 10% pinot blanc? Haven is a reference to the type of soil on the farm, we were told, a combination of sand and loam. This one is aged more traditionally, in oak, and I can scent a touch of the oak when I sniff. Then I get flowers. The wine is softer than a usual sauv blanc, with some depth and a touch of spice, perhaps nutmeg. It’s a good food wine.
3. 2016 Pinot Blanc $35
Now we’re back in experimental territory, as puncheon (i.e. big) barrels of neutral oak were used to age this wine, for eight months. The aroma is faint, with a touch of honeysuckle, but, on the other hand, as my husband notes, it has a lot of taste. Again, I think of this wine as soft, not tart but not sweet, with some nice fruit tastes. It would make a lovely aperitif wine, as it is very easy to drink on its own.
4. 2018 Mojo $26
In 2014, Shinn had such a copious harvest of cabernet franc that they ran out of oak barrels, and so decided to make an unoaked cab franc. Then they were so pleased with the result that since then they have made it that way on purpose. The menu describes this wine as “bright, fresh,” and I agree. They serve it chilled, which is nice on a hot day. The aroma has a touch of funkiness, perhaps pine or forest floor, plus minerality. This pleasant, fruity wine would be great for sangria.
5. 2016 Wild Boar Doe $42
Of course, this is their Bordeaux blend: 59% merlot, 21.5% cabernet franc, 12.5% petit verdot, and 7% malbec. The merlot gives it a cherry aroma and taste, but I’m not sure what the other grapes add. “It could be more assertive,” asserts my tasting buddy. I get some light tannins, and the wine is dry, but, again, the word that keeps coming to mind is soft.
6. Non-vintage Red Blend $19
We needed a bit more beverage to go with the rest of our cheese, so my husband opted to try a red we’d be likely—based on price—to buy. This is a light, refreshing summer red, a simple table wine. It’s a blend of 61% merlot, 22% cabernet franc, 15% cabernet sauvignon, and 2% petit verdot, and tastes, as you’d expect, of the merlot cherry flavor. We bought two bottles.
7. Alembic Brandy $65
Brandy? Yep, they actually have a menu of four brandies, labeled Julius Drover Brandy. Our server gave me a rundown of the four. Divine is made from semillon grapes combined with the alembic; Eau de Vie is made from whatever scraps of grapes they have around and is only aged for one year, so it’s pretty forceful; Apple Brandy is like Calvados, and is made from apples and pears; and Alembic Brandy is made from chardonnay grapes, aged four years. If you like cognac, you’ll like the Alembic, which I quite enjoyed. The taste made me think I should be drinking it after dinner, perhaps with a good cigar and a bowl of walnuts for cracking (just kidding about the cigar).
Reasons to visit: Off the beaten track, so less crowded and quieter than the big places, especially in the summer, as our new friends on the patio noted; lovely outdoor patio; nice menu of snacks; certified sustainable (a landmark for locating them is their tall windmill); the Concrete Blonde in particular, but all the wines are very drinkable, if not exciting.