Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TasteCamp - Shinn Estates

Something wonderful happens to a person when they make the commitment to live and act in a way that best suits the environment. I noticed this phenomenon when I was in Chile last August at a seminar on organics. There was such camaraderie apparent among the winemakers. I thought that it was just a function of having the man that created the organic/biodynamic movement in Chile in the room with us, but perhaps it goes deeper than that. I wish I had been able to take the opportunity to meet Nicolas Jolie when he was in New York.

When we arrived at the Shinn Estates Vineyards the sky was grey and dark and it had been raining. We were greeted with a fantastic lunch spread, duck, fresh spring greens, and so much more. When I went up to get some food, Barbara Shinn, one of the proprietors at Shinn estates, and I chatted for a short time. When I mentioned the weather she looked outside and said that the sun would be out at 2:00 that afternoon. Whether she had a sixth sense about the weather or had simply looked at a weather report right before we arrived, I am not sure. However, the effect was very impressive.

The food was delicious and the wines that we tasted were equally impressive. My favorite wines from the lunch were the Shinn Sauvignon Blanc 2008, the Macari Rosé 2008, and a barrel sample of the Cabernet Franc 2007. The Cab Franc was awesome; I was almost upset that it was not a finished wine that I could buy there and then.

We then listened to the winemakers talk about their wines and their vineyard practices. All of the winemakers were very well versed in their own practices as well as their neighbors. It was as if everyone was looking for the right way to make wine as naturally as possible and were willing to share their experiments with the world. It was so refreshing to listen to.

In the midst of talking about their growing practices, Barbara Shinn passed around a small planters pot. In the pot was a hunk of poop. Barbara said, “Most people think that wine comes from the grapes or the land. Great wine comes from a horse’s ass.” Probably the most quoted moment among the bloggers of the entire weekend.

After tasting and lunch we went out to look at the vines. This was classic wine country visit procedure, and I am glad we got a chance to do it. The vines were just ending their bud break cycle and had begun to sprout the shoots that will eventually become the vines the grapes hang from. The plot of vines was beautiful, with thousands of dandelions and billions of clovers.

After that we went into the barrel room of the winery and found ourselves faced with another wave of wine, with representatives from most of the other wineries that we were not going to be able to visit waiting for us with a few of their wines. While there I was able to taste Borghese, Bouké, Harbes, Lieb Cellars, The Old Field, Palmer, and Sparkling Point.

Of those I enjoyed:

Harbes Merlot Rosé 2008
Harbes Old Barn Merlot 2005
Lieb Cellars Pinot Blanc 2007
The Old Field Blanc de Noir 04
Sparkling Point Brut Seduction 2000 (although I might have been influenced by the VERY attractive pourer)

On our way out, the sun was shining, I had the Harbes Rosé still in my mind (second rose I have liked this trip!) and a delicious chocolate brownie in my hand. This was a great visit.

And the story continues…
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