by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay
Nantucket is home to a plethora of beautiful home gardens and bountiful farm fresh harvests, and summertime is when everything is in full bloom. Maintaining these fields of plenty takes time, effort, and patience. Keeping it green on our island is more important than ever these days. We must be stewards of the land and carefully choose how we cultivate it for generations ahead to continue to enjoy all of its beauty and splendor.
The same could be said about the life cycle of working on a vineyard, where the grapes are growing and tended to in order to mature to just the right ripeness for picking. How vignerons decide to care for their land not only affect this year’s harvest, but also the health and vitality of the soil for yours to come. Here are summertime selections of sustainable wines for you to enjoy this summer that are also considerate to Mother Earth.
A property once occupied by Cistercian monks who planted vines there, the Drappier Family has its roots in this 17th century domaine and the 8th generation currently represents the domaine. Hundreds of years have not diminished the passion behind this Champagne family and what they have done to continue to produce quality wine and soundly take care of their land. The vineyards of Drappier are located in Urville, in the Côtes des Bar region of southeast Champagne, which is slightly closer to Chablis than to the epicenters of Reims and Épernay and where Pinot Noir dominates as the main grape instead of Chardonnay.
Drappier Carte d’Or Champagne Non-Vintage represents a perfect example of all the aromas of the noble grape variety Pinot Noir, which is at least 80% of the blend. This red grape that produces white juice could be considered a trademark in this region. It not only offers great structure to the wine, it also gives the wine its characteristic notes that it is know for of red fruits, such as red apple skin, along with white peach and quince. Dry on the palate, long on the finish, this should be your go-to bright yellow label wine based on such excellent quality and reasonable price. Pairs well with a perfect starry evening on Nantucket!
WHAT GROWS TOGETHER, GOES TOGETHER
The Bourgeois family has been growing wines in Chavignol, located in the Loire Valley of France, for ten generations. They are passionately devoted to the Sauvignon Blanc (and Pinot Noir) that grows in the region. They work on a mosaic of many vine plots, where each is isolated and worked in respect to its terroir and what it has to offer the final blend.
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre “Les Baronnes” 2018 is just one example from their estate that expresses the chalky clay soils on which the vines are grown. The wine is aromatic on the nose, with hints of passionfruit, citrus and distinctive minerality. The palate is fresh and expressive, with lively acidity and a light chalky finish. Even better is the ease of accessibility being one of very few Sancerre producers that offers their wine in a screw-top format. This region is also home to its famous eponymous goat cheese, making a classic accompaniment to this delicious wine offering, as would Nantucket oysters on the half shell.
ARTISAN BY THE SEA
Living on Nantucket, you realize the benefits that salty air has to offer us. The owners of Léoube Estate use their proximity to the water’s edge to their advantage in their organic vineyards. They take great care and affection to make wines with character that are true to the terroir from which they come, all the while being respectful of nature with their environmentally friendly farming, the biodiversity found in their vineyard, and utilizing natural wine making practices.
Love by Léoube Organic Rosé Côtes de Provence 2018 is a lovely dry rosé wine, a staple in the south of France and here on Nantucket. It is a blend of Grenache and Cinsault, completed by a touch of Syrah and Mourvèdre. This elegant rosé had a soft mouthfeel, with flavors of strawberries, hints of pineapple, and red berries. It is well-balanced and generous on the palate, inviting you back for another sip with your al fresco meal overlooking the water.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Just as you wait all year for summer to finally arrive on Nantucket, winemakers do the same in the lifecycle of a vineyard. Seresin Estate is an example of a new world winery with an old world approach where good things come to those who wait. With vineyards located in the sun-soaked heart of Marlborough at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, they produce wine in the most natural way without compromising quality. It is this passion for organics that form the foundation for Seresin Estate. They farm biodynamically, which means that they work in harmony with seasonal, earthly, and celestial rhythms, and are also certified organic. The vineyard floor is carpeted with wild flowers and grasses, and the air is filled with the sounds of the birds and the bees.
While the region is well-known for its white wines, they produce a limited amount of excellent reds. Seresin Pinot Noir “Leah” Marlborough, NZ 2016 had classic Pinot Noir characteristics, displaying a complex nose of red berries fruits, reminiscent of cherries and raspberries. This medium-bodied wine has a supple palate and silky tannins, whilst the natural fermentation adds complexity. Move over California and Oregon, New Zealand Pinot Noir has arrived!
These selections are just a small sampling of winemakers who have chosen to produce wines that represent their unique terroirs and use sustainable practices in their vineyards and winemaking processes. As we choose our summer staples grown and harvested on island, keep these and other like minded wineries in mind to pair with your farm fresh Nantucket meal.