by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay
Summer on Nantucket is more than just going to one of the many beautiful, soft sandy beaches of the island. It’s actually being on the water and feeling the energy that Mother Ocean has to offer. Whether you are surfing the waves at Cisco Beach, swiftly paddle boarding in the calmer waters of the harbor, or enjoying a personally guided fishing charter off-shore, it is always a pleasure to reap the rewards of your ocean experience with some edible nourishment from the sea and the perfect libation to pair with it.
Nantucket is now home to a handful of oyster farms. While these farms may be small in size, they are able to grow in distinctively different areas that show the diversity of our water culture’s influence. From Great Harbor Oysters, to RETSYO near the Wauwinet dock, you also have Pocomo Meadow and Fifth Bend in between. These tasty bivalves offer a certain salinity that is best matched with sparkling wine.
Founded in 1982, Roederer Estate is an iconic sparkling wine producer in the foggy Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. This California property is owned by the Champagne house of Louis Roederer. They only source estate grown fruit and are dedicated to farming their vineyards organically and biodynamical. Oak-aged wines from the estate’s reserve cellars are added to the blend, creating a multi-vintage cuvée in the traditional Louis Roederer style. Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling Wine NV is made of 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. It is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. The palate is lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor. Cheers to this bubbly libation and a dozen local oysters on the half shell!
Fishing for striped bass in the waters of Nantucket has such a unique appeal. The fish can be found in a wide variety of places, along the shoreline, just outside the surf, or in the numerous shoals offshore. They are available to fish throughout the summer and even into the late fall, which is still an ideal time to visit the island. Also known as stripers, this variety of fish is a smart seafood choice because striped bass is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations. The meat of a striped bass is rich and flavorful—a happy medium between flaky and meaty. Its texture lies between cod and swordfish. This fish calls for a wine of the same stature.
Domaine Jessiaume is a beautiful property located in Santenay, in the Côte de Beaune of Burgundy, France. They own twenty-two acres of vines that span from the Nantucket’s sister city of Beaune to the charming village of Santenay, including holdings also in Pommard, Volnay and Auxey- Duresses. The viticulture terroir of each vineyard is linked to the notion of “Climats” in each of these distinctive regions.
The wines at this property are made with minimal intervention and being converted to organic viticulture. Maison Jessiaume Bourgogne Blanc 2017 is made from 100% Chardonnay from a blend of vineyards in this region. It is floral, yet fruity on the nose with a generous mouth offering sweetness and nuances of pastry. It is aged in used oak barrels on the lees for 12 months, adding richness and texture to the wine. The simplicity of this wine makes it ever so drinkable with your fresh catch of the day!
For those who want a more adventurous day on the water, rise before the sun even begins to awaken and head way off shore for a day of tuna fishing. After a long trip out to sea and the many hours to takes to reel in a several hundred pound tuna, you will be thankful for the rewards of your hard work. Plus, seeing the sunrise over the foggy morning waters is a memory worth capturing.
No matter how you choose to prepare your tuna for consumption, an excellent match would be a wine of the similar vibrant color. Cloudline Pinot Noir hails from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. This elegant and approachable wine is known for its high quality and superb value. Fruit forward, silky texture, delicious layers make this very enjoyable and ready to drink. This wine is vinified under the watchful eye of Véronique Drouhin-Boss, whose family hails from Burgundy. The wine is bottled in eco-glass, which is 20% lighter than most wine bottles. Not only is the wine a great value, it is also environmentally sound!
If fishing isn’t your sport, and you prefer to do the work on land, lobsters are the way to go for another seafood delicacy found on-island. While you could go to a lovely waterfront restaurant that will serve you lobster already out of the shell, there is something to be said about working for your next meal by having the experience of taking the lobster out of the shell yourself.
Nantucket’s favorite sip of summer should be close at hand. Hogwash Rosé of Grenache 2018 is just pure fun in a glass. This wine was started when Winemaker Tuck Beckstoffer was invited to co-host a charity fundraiser featuring southern barbeque. Coincidentally Tuck had been experimenting with making rosé from a special Grenache vineyard in the Central Coast of California that he thought would be ideal for a rosé that paid homage to the rosés from the South of France and yet distinctly California in style. This wine is salmon-pink in color with fresh, lively aromas of rose, raspberry and orange. The flavors of mandarin and peach are balanced with soft acidity, making your mouth water for more. No hogwash about this match made in Nantucket heaven!
The bounty of the ocean available from our Nantucket waters is a bonus to living on such a magical island. Please remember that boating and alcohol consumption do not mix, and be sure to enjoy your wine on much drier land.