Saturday we had lunch at Shinn Estates, provided by Shinn, Macari, and Jamesport Vineyards. The food was excellent and all local- duck, arugula, mushrooms and couscous, asparagus and pasta salad, and I'm not sure what all else. I played vegetarian and stuck to the salads.
There were a multitude of wines on the table, for which I might have scribbled tasting notes for a couple bottles. But first – the conversation.
The winemakers talked with us about sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming. They incorporate practices from all three into their vineyards, but have found that the Long Island land/climate prohibits them from going completely biodynamic/organic. Pesticides, for instance, still need to be used occasionally. For the most part, the vintners try to "trust in the land."
They pointed out that they feel lucky to have anything grow at all, considering that Long Island is just a "giant sandbar sticking 120 miles into the ocean." I can't argue with that, but based on the sheer number of vineyards, nurseries, and farms I saw, growing doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. Long Island grape growing, however, is only about 40 years old.
To achieve sustainability, they try to be true farms (yes, folks, vintners are often "grape farmers"), with chickens, rabbits, cows, and horses all resident on the property. This allows for effective composting and fertilizing, all within the farm. Part of the sustainability is letting things like dandelions grow wild. I can't remember why, per se, but it makes for a lovely photo. You'll also notice that the dandelions grow in the area directly under the vines, so something is healthy there somewhere.
It was a really interesting conversation and, oddly enough, they even passed around a flower pot filled with, um, manure. Sounds worse than it was. This is what they bury in the horn at the full moon, or some such thing. I've always sort of poked fun at that practice, but they made mention that the horns add calcium to the soil, so I feel better knowing there's a method to the madness.
(Tasting notes and more conversation after the jump.)
Someone jokingly called this our hippie lunch, although it was my favorite part of the whole day. The joke was sort of driven home, though, when we were told the nice folks at Shinn Estate try to "hug the farm in a really big way." It's effective imagery – esp when you see their farm – but it also makes me smile.
Again, my verdict is still out on biodynamics, although I'm a full supporter of sustainability and organics. But anyone who pays as much attention to the soil and each individual vine as a biodynamic grower, well, that much attention will bring good grapes, full moon or not.
2008 Macari Katherine's Field Sauvignon Blanc: This was a grassy New Zealand style sauv blanc. This complemented the citrusy pasta/asparagus salad in a wonderful way. I just loved it. Had it been available at that moment, I would have purchased a bottle.
2007 Shinn Estates Cabernet Franc – still in barrel: They had a bottle of this, but it had just been pulled from the barrel that morning. This was probably the favorite of everyone at TasteCamp. Yep, we all fell in love with a powerful red that isn't even available yet. I'm not even a fan of Cabernet Franc, but I loved this one because it was full and round with some heft, but no unpleasant bite. It was a confident wine. I'm sooo making Lenn send me a bottle of this one once it's bottled. It's rare to find a domestic Cabernet Franc that I truly enjoy.
We also had an enjoyable Shinn Estate Sauvignon Blanc that had 4% Semillon blended in, a nice 2007 Jamesport Sauvignon Blanc, and a pleasant 2006 Jamesport Pinot Noir. Aside from writing them down as enjoyable though, I have no actual notes.
Finally, our table stole a bottle of a Macari Rosé from the other table. It was a dry enough rose, with less floral and more heft, that even Kevin thought he might have found his inner pink. Apparently not enough to take notes, though. I think we were distracted by conversation and food.
Our thanks to the the three wineries who provided lunch and wine, and especially to Shinn Estates who invited us into their beautiful kitchen and their lovely vineyard.
This is my last Long Island post (unless Kevin writes a few). Today I head back to Amish country to empty Grandma's apartment. It's sad we're doing it on Mother's Day, but good that we're doing it soon, if that makes sense. Anyway, I'll be out of touch, again, through Sunday. Starting Monday, I hope to return to some semblance of normal, back to regular tastings, dance classes, work, and, yes, updating the calendar. Goodness what a year it's been – thanks for your patience. I love my readers!
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