by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay
While Labor Day weekend may mark the end of summer for some, it is the beginning of a new drinking season for others. Gone are the days of crisp, mineral-driven wines. Lighter style reds take a back seat to ones that have more depth and complexity. Even rosé drinkers rejoice as they continue to discover the sea of well-made pink options as we fade into autumn.
Advanced Sommelier Jenny Benzie offers a selection of home-grown, patriotic picks to celebrate with this weekend, including an unique spirit to toast into September.
Labor Day is an annual American tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Cliff Lede has taken this one step further in his creation of FEL Wines. The letters in FEL represent Florence Elsie Lede, founder Cliff Lede’s mother, a home winemaker who provided the early inspiration for Cliff’s love of wine. The tulip on the label signifies the end of winter, bringing a freshness and excitement of warmer days ahead (sounds a bit like Nantucket’s annual Daffodil Festival!) and also a tribute to his mother’s passion for gardening.
FEL Pinot Noir hails from sustainable vineyards in Anderson Valley, a coolclimate area located north of Napa and Sonoma counties. This wine is a fullbodied for a pinot noir, showing plump red and black cherries, with black plums on the palate. The tannins are well rounded with layers of texture that culminate with a lingering fruity finish.
This wine is quite the match with Domaine de Provence Duck Mousse Pate.
WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY
The namesake of the winery aptly known as Vineyard 29 couldn’t be more obvious to anyone who has driven through the main highway that cuts through Napa Valley. However, don’t expect to easily find the address or location of this state of the art winery, as private tasting and winery experiences are available by request and reservation only.
With such small, limited production of all of their wines, the life of Vineyard 29 “CRU” Sauvignon Blanc begins in the vineyard. From vineyard site selection, to crop yield, and specific harvest planning, each farming decision is made with this specific wine in mind. The wine is then finished in a sophisticated, gravity- flow winery designed with the least amount of environmental impact. This wine is aged just shy of one year with a touch of oak to add texture and complexity to this layered wine. The nose entices you with aromas of bright Meyer lemon, tangerine rind, and delicate notes of white nectarine. Your palate is coated with lemon oil flavors, complemented by a hint of minerality, that are long, rich, and luxurious. This modern day wine could easily be mistaken for a classic Bordeaux Blanc from France, while still expressing its youthful character hailing from Napa Valley.
Enjoy this wine with Comté cheese, made from cow’s milk in the Franche- Comté province in Eastern France.
ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE PINK
It is important to note that Rosé is a category of wine, just like white, red, or sparkling wine. What this means to you is that you do not under any circumstances need to stop drinking it as the weather changes. With so many different styles and winemaking techniques, not to mention grape varietals and regions from which they hail, there is always room for transition in the genre of libations as well.
In looking for the perfect September sipper, glance no further than Angels & Cowboys Rosé. This Grenache-based blend hails from Sonoma County and is made with the winemaking techniques similar to those used in the South of France, known as the epicenter for Rosé. It is considered a classic Oeil de Perdrix (translates to “eye of the partridge”), which originated from Switzerland and has a very light, orange-pink hue similar to a champagne diamond. Experience delicate aromas of mandarin, pomegranate blossoms and wildflowers. On the palate, the wine is lively and racy with flavors of tart cherries and minerals.
Pinkies up with this wine and a taste of Jansal Valley Honey Roasted Cashews.
SILVER IS THE NEW GOLD
To round-up a feature of American made selections, we head out to the Wild West where anything can happen. All spirits are born clear in their initial stages of production. They only turn brown after aging in a barrel, like you when sunbathing at Steps Beach. While Tequila and rum both have levels of blanco and ańejo (literally translating to old, however meaning aged in this sense), now whiskey does, too!
Enter un-aged oat whiskey known as High West Silver Whiskey. Similar to blanco (or silver) tequila, this product has spent all of 5 minutes in a barrel to minimize the barrel’s influence on the taste of the native spirit. This unique and incredibly smooth whiskey is made from a mash bill containing 85% oats and 15% barley malt. The Silver name is also in reference to the fact that it is distilled in old town Park City, one of the west’s richest silver mining towns. Try it neat, on the rocks, or anywhere you choose a “clear” spirit.
Kick back and enjoy this libation with a My Father Connecticut Toro cigar!
As you celebrate the fruits of your labor this weekend, please remember to celebrate responsibly and take care of our Nantucket Island. Enjoy the holiday and cheers to you!