Long Island’s North Fork is not the first place that comes to mind when I think of value wines in the under-$15 category, especially reds. The region’s relatively small producers necessarily have to ask quite a bit more for their estate-grown wines. So I was surprised when a friend brought over a bottle of Shinn Estate Vineyards’ “Red,” a non-vintage blend that still had the $13.50 price tag on the bottle (it lists for $15 on Shinn’s website). I’d forgotten that Shinn, which is located on a quiet old farm road in Mattituck, 90 miles or so east of Manhattan, even made an entry-level red (the winery produces some of Long Island’s most distinctive merlots, cabernet francs, malbecs and Bordeaux-style blends). Its Red is a blend of 52 percent merlot, 26 percent cab franc and 22 percent syrah, with a least some of the fruit sourced from other North Fork vineyards.
The wine shows a lot of bright red fruit notes, good tannic structure and has an impressively long finish. Sipping it with a casual meal (think chicken, grilled salmon, burgers, pizza) is an altogether pleasant experience that doesn’t invite over-analysis, simply enjoyment of it, which is exactly what a wine at this price should do. I’ve never had a house wine – too many new releases to taste – but if I were in the market for a red, this would be high on my list. And for those of us in or not far from the area, the fact that it’s locally produced might just seal the deal.