A tradition that started about 3 years ago for the Gorton & Braun Family is our annual attendance at Shinn Estate Vineyards Annual Futures Event, a “Shinn-Dig”.
My parents Mike & Patty Gorton, Melissa’s parents, Dave & Edith Braun, and our siblings, Melissa’s sister Stacy and her husband Darren Hawkins and my brothers, Tim and Matt Gorton, get together for some laughs and great food and delicious wine. This year was just as much fun as last, but maybe a little bit better.
Here is what happens at the Shinn-Dig, if you have never been there before, shame on you! You have an opportunity to taste the standard releases of wines that they produce, Coalescence, First Fruit, Chardonnay, Rose, Estate Merlot, Wild Boar Doe, Nine Barrels, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes there are other releases, but they are not complete yet. You taste them along side some very nice cheese and bread and some very good olives and some spicy nuts. David also prepares a hearty stew to enjoy while you taste their red wines. The cost of the evening is $95. with $40 of that going to the purchase of wine. It is a no brainer to get in on the action.
We all arrive and we were hosted by David Page in the Kitchen, Barbara was in the tasting room and Anthony was in the barrel cellar. Everyone bounced around talking about the wines and talking about the Shinn Philosophy.
One big announcement was that starting this year, Barbara Shinn will begin the process of becoming a certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyard. The first on the east coast! This has been a huge undertaking, no pun intended, by Barbara and David since they first started Shinn Estate Vineyards. Barbara has worked endlessly to make the vineyard self sustainable and you can taste the labor and love in their wines. This is the start of a 3 year process so hopefully in 2013 there will be something special to celebrate at Shinn Estate Vineyards.
Now on to the tasting; the table’s are set up family style with bread and cheese and olives and spiced nuts and most importantly family and friends!
We first tasted from the 2009 vintage, Shinn Estate Vineyards Coalescence ($14). This is a white table wine that has some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot Blanc and some Riesling from the Finger Lakes. On the nose you could definitely pick up the Riesling with some pineapple and apple and a little pear. There was a hint of salty beach rock. The taste was even better; the apple and pear combination was front and center with a zinging acidity. It was palate cleansing and a great way to start off the evening.
We then were offered Shinn Estate Vineyards 2009 “First Fruit” Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon ($22). There was plenty of Grapefruit, lemon and citrus. There was the sent of slate on the nose as well, something that I tend to find in Shinn Estate Wines. The taste had great acidity and was balanced with the fruit aspect of the wine that carried over onto the palate. It was clean and crisp, and it called for a summer evening.
Next up was Shinn Estate Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay ($17). This is steel fermented, no oak touches this wine. In the glass it was still cloudy, it is not finished yet, it still needed some time in the tank. But right up front you can taste the wonderful lemony citrus on the nose. There was a nice creaminess to this chardonnay with out it being buttery, as you would find in an oaked chardonnay. The taste was a bit acidic, but remember it was not complete yet.
We then were getting ready for our dinner, so we moved onto Shinn Estate Vineyards 2009 Rose($15). This is not your typical Rose. It is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc juice. The wine does have some contact with skin, but only briefly. It picks up some of there color and a touch of the tannins when it is in contact with the skins. It is an ultra dry style rose that just screams summer BBQ. On the nose I was getting some Strawberry and raspberry with a little fresh herbal notes. There was a little cranberry developing on the taste along with nice peppery finish. It was a clean wine and very refreshing.
We then moved onto the highlights of the evening, the red wines from the 2008 vintage (which is a special vintage since Melissa and I were married on that soil in that year!)
First up was Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Estate Merlot ($26). This Merlot in moving in the direction of their 2007 Merlot release “Rebellion” which is wild fermented with indigenous yeast. This is the direction that they are moving on based on the success of the “Rebellion”, and the way Shinn Estate feels this grape is best shown. You will not see Rebellion on the label, but you will know that this was fermented without the use of outside yeast. On the nose there was alot of fruit. Some cherry, currant and a bit of dried herbs and a hint of floral elements. The taste was more of the same with some peppery spice and a touch of sour cherry and an earthy minerality that has Shinn written all over it. It was a well balance and structured wine. The finish was nice, I was getting a little toasty vanilla.
We then were served a hearty bowl of Duck and Lentil Stew. There was some wonderful flavors of orange peel and cardamom. The duck was tender and flavorful. It truly warmed our soul. IT was preparing us and paired perfectly with the next wine, maybe my favorite of the night…
Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Wild Boar Doe ($29). This is a classic Bordeaux style wine with blends of the classic Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Malbec. Immediately on the nose I knew this was going to be an awesome wine. There were wonderful floral elements and exotic spice, with some wonderful plum and blackberry and dried cherry. With each sip, you could almost taste each varietal in the glass. The wonderful thing about this Wild Boar Doe was the spice element. There was some exotic, cardamom and coriander on the nose, but on the palate I was picking up some classic Chinese 5 spice flavors, anise, cinnamon and nutmeg along other. These spices were soft and approachable, no ware near harsh. This may be my favorite of the night and in my opinion, the best Wild Boar Doe to date! I also have to say that David could not stop talking about it. I don’t know who was digging it more!
Up next was the wonderful and distinctive 2008 Cabernet Franc from Shinn Estate Vineyards ($38). Loads of berries right up front on the nose; Raspberry, cherry, boysenberries and currant. It was spicy and herbal with some mint and dried basil. The spice elements of the wine were exotic and arousing, some cinnamon, anise, cardamom and coriander with a fresh black pepper kick. It was earthy and tasty. It was the first wine that I needed a second glass during the tasting and it went perfectly with my second helping of the Duck and lentil stew. This showed very traditional Shinn elements and is a great follow-up to the current release, the 2007 Cabernet Franc.
We then were poured Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot ($42). This really got my wheels going. It has just a touch of Petite Verdot in it, to round out the best 9 barrels of the 2008 Merlot Vintage. Right up front there was big fruit; cherry, blackberry, fig and plum. There was some chocolate and some wonderful soft exotic spice. This was a big wine, and when I say that I wanted to go for a swim in the glass, you know it was a knock out! The finish was even better with a kick of mint and vanilla. Probably my runner up of the evening, but very close to finishing first.
We then moved onto the last wine of the night, Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($40). Let me first start off by saying, I am not a Cab Sauv fan. I just cannot get into it. But this wine was complex, approachable and distinctive. There was aroma of Blackberry, coffee, chocolate and tobacco with a nice plum component. The taste carried over some of the fruit along with some menthol and eucalyptus. There was a little tobacco and some tart chocolate covered cherries with a smoky finish.
Sadly, this was the end of the night and now it was time to narrow down the winners and buy some wine. I re tasted the Wild Boar Doe, Cabernet Franc and Nine Barrels. It was a close call, but the majority of the our family loved the Cabernet Franc. Even my brother who loves his Merlot, was blown away by this cabernet franc. The overall winner was the 2009 First Fruit, we walked away with a total of 2 ½ cases (no surprise there because I help with the harvest on that one).
If you want to get in on wine at a 20% discount, you can, even if you did not attend the Shinn-Dig, you can visit their website and place your order by March 31. Keep in mind that some of the wine will not be available till later in the year, but when it is you will enjoy your wine at this special savings.
Well, I hate that I have to wait another year for the next Shinn Dig, but it will be alot of fun and hopefully some of you will be able to be there as well.
Come to think of it, looking at my list, I think I need to add some Cabernet Franc and Wild Board Doe…I think I made a miss calculation on the order.