Blancs and Boats

by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay

Being on the waters of Nantucket can be life changing. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the smell of the ocean in your system, the feel of the salt water pulsing through your veins. The same can be said about an epiphany wine drinking experience. You remember the place where you had that first sip, can visualize who you shared the bottle with, and will never forget the aroma and taste of the wine as you swirled it around in your mouth. The beauty of boats and wines are both oft celebrated based on their craftsmanship and the elevated experience they can exude. Advanced Sommelier Jenny Benzie offers a selection of sips to pair with your next sailing vessel as you lean into summer on Nantucket.

WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?

Winemaker Kelley Fox has been quietly making wine in the Willamette Valley for more than two decades. Having honed her skill not through textbooks or working in other regions, she instead choose to work with the pioneers and experts in Oregon who had paved the way for the region itself. Similar to a boat making craftsman who had carves a cutter sailboat, her operation is small and is designed for being good at what it is meant to do versus capacity or largeness. A traditional cutter is a smaller sailing ship with a single mast. In this case, Pinot Noir is the main focus, with Pinot Blanc as one of its headsails.

Kelley Fox Pinot Blanc Freedom Hill Vineyard 2018 is a true 100% Pinot Blanc with no other grape variety added to it. It is made in the same way that most winemakers would make Chardonnay—whole cluster pressing for more texture and character, settling in a tank for several days before racking to create more depth and layers, then fermented in used oak barrels (never new) for roundness and richness on the palate. The nose has delicate citrus and exotic floral tones, with hints of the sea and soft minerals. This mouth feel is similar to the nose, and the length of the wine extends far longer than expected.

This is a perfect sip of sunshine to enjoy with the beet’s Bluefish Paté!

THE LOVE BOAT

Christening a boat with Champagne is a nautical tradition rooted in ancient times, as is winemaking itself. This ceremonious occasion need not be a formal event—it should be a fun social gathering enjoyed by a close circle of friends. A schooner is a type of sailing ship that has two or more masts, the foremast being slightly shorter than the mainmast. The term schooner is thought to be from the Scots language, translating to skipping over the water.

Making sparkling wine is similar in that it is two-step process. After the first fermentation of the wine is done to create the alcohol, a second fermentation is done in the bottle with a long extended aging period of time before being released. Each part of this operation is important in creating the final product. Hattingley Valley Blanc de Blancs 2011 is a delightful English sparkling wine worthy of your next maiden voyage. These British bubbles are made from 100% Chardonnay, making it a rich treasure that whose taste will last long after you have left the harbor. This remarkable, premium sparkling wine is from a family owned business in Hampshire and definitely head of its class.

A spoonful of Calvisius Sevruga Caviar will make the occasion even merrier!

ONE LOVE, ONE HEART

When putting your one love and one heart into making wine or a sailboat, you need to have a definitive focus. For a sloop, this sailboat has a single mast, typically meaning one headsail in front of the mast, and one mainsail behind the mast. Everything revolves around this one mast, and this is the core of the operation.

For Winemaker Nicolas Joly in the Savenièrres region of the Loire Valleyin France, his “mast” is Chenin Blanc. He is the leader in the biodynamic viticulture with an aim of not making just good wine, but true wine. His vineyard dates back to the Cistercian monks, and winemaking has been continuously practiced here for centuries. Nicolas Joly Les Vieux Clos Savenièrres 2014 is 100% Chenin Blanc and is certified organic and biodynamic agriculture. This makes for a wine that is made in the vineyard, with minimal intervention in the cellar. Its maturation is evident in aromas of spice and floral components. The palate is slighty nutty, with baked quince, and a richness of texture.

A delightful accompaniment to Nettle Meadow Simple Sheep cheese from New Hampshire.

SAILING TAKES ME AWAY

Sometimes you simply just want to cruise along the waters of the south shore of Nantucket. A ketch is a common rig for cruising sailboats and perfect for just such an occasion. It has two masts, one being a traditional mainmast as on a sloop, plus a smaller mast in the rear of the boat called the mizzenmast.

Le Blanc Sec de Suduiraut Bordeaux 2016 is a bright, aromatic expression of Sauvignon Blanc from France and perfect for cruising around in the afternoon. The history of the chateau is known as a dessert wine producer of the same grape. In more modern times, they made a significant investment in their vineyards and began to experiment with dry wine production, hence this gem. It has explosive aromas of tropical fruits on the nose. The palate has a slightly waxy texture and is full of racy acidity that will leave you wanted to return to your glass time and time again.

Matiz Small Sardines, tinned in olive oil, would be a tasty treat with this wine!

Wherever your sailing adventures take you around the island, be sure to practice your safe boating skills. Or put yourselves in the hands of an expert, and go sailing on the Endeavor with Captain James Genthner (508-228-5585 or EndeavorSailing.com). Enjoy a toast to the good life of the island and cheers to summer!