There are not many things that will get me out of my warm cozy house on a freezing January night, but the annual Futures Dinner at Shinn Estates Vineyard is one of them. First, we get a preview of the new wines. Then there’s the opportunity to chat with viticulturist Barbara Shinn and winemaker Patrick Caserta. And of course, there’s the home-made duck stew prepared by distiller and chef David Page. But I think the big draw is the camaraderie of sitting at a great big table in the dead of winter talking wine and comparing notes with fellow wine lovers. Which is why I always look forward to going back to the futures wine dinner each year.
Shinn Estates, located in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island, was an early adapter of sustainable farming and is a member winery of Sustainable Long Island. We tasted nine wines, starting with the 2014 First Fruit Sauvignon Blanc, which had already been bottled, and ending with the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 Rose was interesting as it still had quite a bit of sweetness, all of which will be gone by the time it is ready to be bottled. Both 2013 and 2014 were stellar years on Long Island, so all the wines were quite excellent. But the highlight of the evening for me were the 2013 Merlots. While the 2013 Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot was tasting great and had the promise of a great wine, the 2013 Estate Merlot really blew me away.
The great thing about a futures dinner is that you get a chance to purchase wines at a steep discount. Almost like dabbling in the commodities market. Except that it’s not much fun tasting North Texas Crude or Chicago Soft Red Winter Wheat. The tricky thing is trying to figure out where the wine is going. Like predicting where the Dow Jones Industrial Average is going to be a year from now. This is especially true with the reds, which still need months to go in the barrels and a few years in the bottle before they reach their peak. Do I put all my eggs in one basket and go for the one wine I think has the greatest potential? Or do I hedge my bets and pick one of each wine, kind of like investing in a broad-based mutual fund. In the end I decided to pick four wines: the two Merlots, the First Fruit Sauvignon and after some insider information I decided to do a little speculating and went with the 2013 Malbec, which we didn’t actually taste. Only time will tell if I invested wisely.
But wait, this is wine, not the S&P 500. So, it’s a win-win situation. This is one of the few investments which pays excellent dividends regardless of performance. If only managing my 401K was this easy!