There’s nowhere like Long Island on a summer day, and drinking the Malbec of Shinn Vineyards, out of a thief with artisan David Page (pictured below), was something I’ve never done before. On Twitter I wrote the flavors were, “Like a walk in the forest during the summer.”
A thief is a tube of sorts, made from either plastic or glass. You use a thief to carefully draw wine out of the hole in the top of the cask and fill a glass with very little effort. Drinking that glass connects you to the cask and to the soil. It’s wine at the beginning of the process.
Wine such as this Malbec, resting gently in the wood cask that gives me a passion for food and conversation. I tasted the wine in my mouth for hours afterwards and these liquid-threaded memories are imprinted into my dreams.
I hardly slept a wink with the rich flavors of the Shinn wines spinning through my head. The day spent driving around the verdant farms turned vineyards, to the Greenport Brewery to eat oysters by the water and then finally home. The aromatics of this wine stayed with me all day into the next.
Drinking some of the wines of Shinn with slices of a grilled pork butt was impossible to forget. This is serious wine for food and for contemplation, leading to conversation about wine. The key word here is intoxicating. I’d heard people use words like intoxicating personalities when talking about the other really important wine and spirits writers. Find yourself some Shinn wines and contemplate your own dreams, then write them down and share them with us.
This thing we call reinvention brought me out to the North Fork Wine country to meet David Page and Barbara Shinn. A few months ago, through the introduction of another friend who is in the wine business, I was fortunate to interview both David and Barbara for an upcoming article being released in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America Ed., 2.
My topic for the Oxford Encyclopedia is Biodynamic and Organic food and wine. There are quite a few experts in this field and I needed the advice of someone who might know a bit more than I do. Plus, I adore the Shinn wines so visiting their tasting room and drinking their wines where they are made was an honor. I sat for a focused tasting of David and Barbara’s wines and came away with a new understanding of their passion.
Wine on Long Island
I grew up on a certified biodynamic farm but there was very little that I could tell people what exactly biodynamics and organics means for the propagation of grapes. David and Barbara suggested tasting their wines to get a feeling for the energy they attempt to extract from the specific terroir that says the North Fork of Long Island.
Long Island Terroir has the potential to make world-class wine. I tasted the Shinn wines and they said to me; class act. David opened his inner sanctum of the Shinn Vineyards to taste his wines right out of the cask.
Even really important collectors will tell you that they’ve had all the great wines in the world and may own anything that they can afford to buy, but rarely have they enjoyed their favorite purchases directly from the barrel, unblended, filtered or fined. Drinking wine directly from the cask reveals the true soul of wine. It was an experience I will never forget served by a genuinely enthusiastic man who has honor of sharing his liquid-driven craft with the world. David scampers like a veritable Billy Goat across the tall stacks of French White Oak barrels.
“Where’s the Malbec?” He calls out to no one in particular. Up and down David looks crawling up the slippery barrels like a kid on a jungle gym. He finds what he’s looking for and carefully draws out barrel samples for tasting. This was my description of the wine that I sent out on Twitter:
RT @WarrenBobrow1: David and Barbara Page of Shinn Vineyards. Producing handcrafted wines with great personality. A walk in the summer forest comes to mind. cc @shinnvineyard
The Malbec was unlike any Southern ocean Malbec I’d ever tasted. Flavors of forest floor (a kind of pine cone smell if you’ve ever stepped down on a pine cone, or smelled that pine sap smell) then, coming into view (from a nasal perspective) are the aromas of last year’s leaves, the sound of them crunching underfoot and the aromatics revealed by that specific action of foot on top of decaying plants rising up to the nose. That’s the earth element that I find so beguiling. Next, little bursts of white chocolate and bittersweet dark pitted fruits come into focus. I called these discoveries – little firecrackers of flavor.
Bursts of dark, light and bittersweet chocolate reveal themselves upon swallowing the wine. This was certainly one to drink, not sip and spit which is my practice when tasting dozens of wines at a time. You just can get blasted too quickly drinking barrel samples. My next impression was grass fed beef. The flavors quickly deepened and had the flavorful, charred characteristics of a grass fed ribeye steak. I could have sat down in the aging room in the cool darkness and waxed poetic over this single glass of wine for hours.
- The tasting room is open 10:30am – 5pm every day
- Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm the vineyard is opened for a walking tour and wine tasting. The walk highlights the growing cycle of the vines and addresses the sustainable farming practices of the estate. Owners David Page and Barbara Shinn host the 20 – 30 minute walk and tasting. The limited production estate wine is poured after the walk and is available for purchase. The tour is $US12.50 which includes the wine tasting.
- Call for reservations 631-804-0367.
- Vineyard is located in the North Fork of Long Island, NY.
- They also have a FABULOUS B&B.
- Address: 2000 Oregon Road Mattituck, NY 11952
- Read more about Warren’s adventures at Cocktail Whisperer
- You’ll find him on Twitter @warrenbobrow1
- You’ll find Warren’s cocktail books HERE