As great as Long Island cabernet franc is and can be – it’s a category that is hard to pin down, though it’s getting a bit easier. There was a time when too many local wineries tried to give cabernet franc the “cabernet sauvignon treatment.” Too much extraction. Too much time in new oak. Too much trying to make cabernet franc something that it’s not.
All of that, and nowhere near enough character or elegance.
That has shifted. Most winemakers have scaled back the barrel time and are allowing cabernet franc to let its freak flag fly. It’s okay for cabernet franc to have a green, herbal edge. Really!
Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck has long grown and made some of the North Fork’s best cabernet franc, but with the 2014 vintage, they added a new wine to the cab franc lineup: Shinn Estate Vineyards 2014 “Mojo” Cabernet Franc ($22).
Fresh and vibrant – with nary a splinter of oak used in its production – this is North Fork cab franc at is most transparent and pure.
Lean, crunchy red fruits – think raspberry and cranberry – are joined by an earthy, woodsy spicy note and just a bit of the herbal nuance that the best Long Island cabernet franc always has. It relies on acidity rather than tannin for structure.
At the table, treat it almost like you would pinot noir, with pork and fowl and even richer fish dishes. Thanksgiving dinner would be a good time to open it – but perhaps even better would be with your leftover turkey sandwich piled with sausage stuffing and cranberry mayo.
It’s available for $22 at the winery, located at 2000 Oregon Road in Mattituck.