Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine


Futures Dinner At Shinn Estate

On Saturday night David Page and Barbara Shinn held their annual Futures Dinner where you get to have a Napa/Sonoma experience on the East End of Long Island.  However unlike our more temperate cousin in California, the weather on Long Island in February can be atrocious. Walking from our jeep to the farmhouse I had a flashback to Terra del Fuego at the tip of Patagonia – driving rain, fog, and gusty winds. Once inside however, the warm and welcoming room with candles lighting long tables gave us a reward for venturing out. 

The Shinns are in the process of obtaining organic and biodynamic certification. These futures dinners have brought together their fans, given the locals something to do in the middle of the winter and helped with marketing and cash flow. In David’s address to us he discussed community supported agriculture and our sharing the risk of this whole enterprise with our participation in the dinner and our purchase of the deeply discounted case futures. 

The food was simple and great: bread, cheese, humus, charcuterie, salad and duck stew. Barbara baked cookies for desert. In our room we had David talk us thru the tasting and answer questions. As always he was a mix of poet and scholar, romantic about organic farming, his wind turbine, and the special care they take in the fields, yet very precise about the technical characteristics of what we were drinking. Specifically, David talked about the effect their switching to wild yeast has on the flavor profiles.

Here are some random notes on a few of the wines we sampled. All are from the ’10 harvest. Some of the whites were already bottled and the reds will be bottled this year. Our ad-hoc tasting panel consisted of myself, my wife Deborah, deep friends Bill Geraghty and Kathleen Lynch and Dr. Robert Sloan. Some new friends sitting next to us also chimed in.

Coalescence: This is Shinn’s entry level white and everyone thought it particularly good this year. David has Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot grapes blended into a refreshing wine with nicely balanced, lovely floral notes and citrus highs. Drink cold on a summer’s day with seafood or cold cuts and a salad. Amazing that anyone could make an organic wine this good on pricy real estate for this low a price. This is one of my house wines, and the one I take a case of when I go sailing for a week. 

Chardonnay: Our very informal tasting panel said this was “vibrant, delicious, and well made.” We had it unfiltered and it had the color of lemonade. The full body fruit came thru as no oak ever touched the juice. The acid was forward but not too much. We tasted peaches, lemon and raisins.  If I had this with a salad and a piece of fresh local grilled fish I would be in locavore heaven. 

Rose: This is a classic Cab Franc Rose, the panel tasted strawberries, watermelon, pepper and peach. There was a great deal of plain fun in the bottle, nothing too serious. There was a slight effervescence to the wine and a short finish. Think of a cold roast chicken dipped in a tarragon vinaigrette and you would have a great picnic meal. 

09 Merlot: This one was mixed – there were fans and detractors. The fans thought it rich, elegant and full of licorice. The naysayers tasted too much sour cherry. 

Wild Boar Doe: This year was a winner. The intelligence of the blend, the enhanced cherry and blackberry notes and the creamy smoothness of the fruit blend really made us happy. Have this one with… just what we were served. Some cheese, a salad and a flavorful duck stew. 

09 Nine Barrels: This is Shinn’s prestige wine and it deserves the accolades. Great depth, luscious fruit, balanced tannins and complexity in color. Put this away for a half decade and then open it up with a roaring fire and a carnivorous meal plan. 

09 Cab Franc: The panel really liked this wine and I agree whole heartily. It was balanced, tasted of true terroir and real soil and had an elegant finish and great mouth feel. A great wine to have with your favorite pasta dish.

09 Cab Sauvignon: Our panel also appreciated the craft that made this red. Good tannins and lots of raspberries. 

We want to thank David and Barbara for a wonderful evening.