VinoTripping Blog

Nantucket Wine Festival, May 2018

Nantucket Wine Festival @farniente

Rain and wind, were no match for the elegant Nantucket Wine Festival.  Outstanding wines, wine makers from all over the world, tents to shield us from the weather and 5 star cuisine!  Highly recommend!

 3pm We are on our way! Kids packed, dog picked up, my favorite Lilly’s packed for the island.  Nantucket Wine Festival here we come.

6pm Arrive at Steamship Authority.  Next ferry is 7:30.  Perfect!  We have time to grab dinner on Main St. and KKatie’s Burger Bar is the perfect stop.  The burgers are amazing.

7:30pm ferry.  Quick ride, 1 hour.  Not a full ferry, most people sailed earlier for the wine events that started on Thursday.

8:30pm Hopped an Uber and at the hotel by 8:40

8:40pm Checked into the Beachside Hotel.  The room is perfect!  It’s a huge room, two queen beds, desk, tv, bureau, huge closet, hutch with coffee maker, fridge.  Then a second bedroom with king size bed, another closet and big bathroom.  Perfect for our family of 5.  We go right to sleep.

9:00am Continental breakfast at the hotel while we watch the royal wedding with other guests.  We decide to try to walk to town as a family.  It takes us no more than 5 mins. The children are happy to find store fronts and restaurants right near by.  We can’t get over how close the hotel is to town!

We walk around for a bit, grab legos for the kids, take out lunch and then back to the hotel.

11:00am Dressed and ready to go.  Mr. M and I leave the kids in capable babysitting hands and walk to the White Elephant.  On the way we look into the wine shop, Epernay.  They are having tastings all day, all weekend.  There is a decent crowd, and we don’t want to be late to the White Elephant, so we decide to stop by later.

11:20am We get in line for the Grand Tasting at the White Elephant Hotel.  The tickets were $175/pp on line.  The line is big, and it ends up it doesn’t matter where we are in line.  They admit guests very quickly from two sides.  The crowds are lively, friendly and excited.  Many of the men are in Nantucket casual, suit jackets, pink pants.  Others are in full suit gear, but everyone is nicely dressed.  The women are in dresses and jeans.  It’s a rainy, chilly day, so outfits have been adjusted.  Some are wearing sandals, but many are in boots or black sneakers.  There is A LOT of Lilly Pulitzer!!  My favorite!

12:00pm The doors open.  People crowd in and grab a glass.  This event is very well organized and people are in quickly.  I can’t get over the amazing food and wine in this first tent.  I grab a glass of Veuve Cliquot from the first tent, their 200th anniversary rose – incredible, and Mr. M and I duck into the next tent to avoid the crowds in the first.

There is an entry tent and then two additional tents set up, so no-one minds the rain and wind.  Food and wine are throughout all three tents, most of the to restaurants from Nantucket and Boston.

I have already decided my plan of attack.  I am starting with the

champagne, Veuve, and then the 4 French Champagne houses.  However, slight miscalculation.  As we enter, I see Turnbull in the first tent.  I love their wine and will definitely be back, their reds are outstanding.  However, I don’t want to get to them until I have the great whites in the other room. I make a note that I will return and head to the second tent.

The next booth I stop at is Gundlach Bundschu (“Gun Bun”).  I share my excitement at seeing them and my condolescences on their losses in the Napa/Sonoma fires this past fall.  The booth rep is the daughter of the owners and describes how they fought the fires side by side, family member next to winery worker next to friend but it was just too much.  They lost so much in the fires, but they are fortunate they all survived and are working to come back strong.  She is focused on moving forward and her wines are outstanding.

I stopped at a few tables to sample some of the incredible food, on the way to Champagne.  One dish just blew us away.  It was crispy Thai glazed pork bellies with spicy peanuts.  It was unbelievable!  There were so many outstanding restaurants at the event, but this was by far the best there.  We went back again and again for this treat.  It was a creation by Chef David Blessing.  He is the Chef of Longwood Venues.  They run five private event venues in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, specializing in locally sourced food, prepared fresh on site for every unique event.  It has been said that people will attend this wine and food festival just to taste Chef Blessing’s creations.  I can certainly see why!  Perhaps we will see him in Newport at that festival as well.

Next, I headed to Champagne.  I was fortunate to be the first to arrive at Leclerc Briant. I was able to have my own tasting orated by the rep, but I had lost Mr. M to the Glen Livet table. Time to focus on wines.  The Blanc de Meuniers and the La Croisette were amazing!!!  The Blanc de Meunier is made solely with Pinot Meunier grapes.  Most champagne is a blend of chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.  The winery wanted to show that Pinot Meunier could be elegant, refined and stand on it’s own and they had the right year so they made it.  It was really, really good and different.  Minerally, pear, apple, with an outstanding finish.  We went through the tasting and finished with the La Croisette.  It was amazing.  I wasn’t ready to be done and could have stayed at that table for hours, but needed to move on.

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I headed to Gossett.  Their Champagne Brut Grande Reserve was lovely but was a complete surprise on the back end.  It was crisp and smooth, as you would expect with a good Champagne, but on the secondary palate there was a knockout punch of peach or stone fruit with a long finish. I was honestly knocked out by the palate, the initial taste gave way to a knockout punch of peach and then a glorious finish.  Almost like fireworks.  Really good!

I then visited Chateau de Bligny.  Their blanc de blanc was very nice, flinty and citric.  Elegance and a nice finish.

I took my glass of champagne and headed to FarNiente.  Mr. M. found me there chatting with the gracious owners of Far Niente.  Far Niente Chardonnay is absolutely outstanding, elegant, with pear, honey and lemon.  I didn’t realize they also make several other labels.  Their their Nickel & Nickel was amazing as always and their Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon was a surprising standout.  It was one of my favorites of the day.  Black cherry, white pepper, black licorice.  Could be cellared.

 At this point, I was ready for the reds.  I stopped for Joseph Phelps Insignia

which is always outstanding and a highlight at wine festivals.  Then to Peju, a Napa/ Sonoma winery.  Their Sauvignon Blanc knocked my socks off.  I was ready for reds, and had already had some outstanding ones, but this sauvignon blanc honestly cleansed my palate for the reds.  I plan to try it again, as its texture and minerality along with subtle tropical fruits were memorable.  All of the Peju wines were terrific and their Cabernet Franc was also a surprise.  Great wines that I had never before tasted!

Next I headed to Silverado and thoroughly enjoyed their GEO Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was time for food, but I couldn’t pass Pride again.  We had a great time talking with the rep from Pride and I promised to visit with him soon in Napa.  Check out the Magnum of Merlot, partially from Napa partially from Sonoma.  It was soooo jammy with great texture. Terrific!

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We headed back to the Thai Pork Bellys and discovered they were right next door to Penfolds.  I shared with the Penfolds rep how we had visited recently and he shared a really great Shiraz.  After talking for a while, he poured me their 707.  Holy Moley it was unbelievably good.  Americans who know wine were centered around Penfolds.  It wasn’t easy to get it but it was outstanding.

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We next headed to Turnbull.  Her display was adorable and people seemed to keep coming back for their Chardonnay.  I had already committed to the reds and she shared 3 outstanding reds.  The Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc and the red blend were amazing and unforgettable!!!  If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Cabernet Franc simply for the surprise of the quality, but I would drink any of these happily.

Right next door I visited Flanagan. I had met the husband and wife team in Martha’s Vineyard last year and we talked for quite a while.  They are awesome and love what they do.  I enjoy sharing their great Sonoma wines

with them.  I agreed to visit when we go to Napa and Sonoma later this year.  Their wines are beautiful.  They make wonderful Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Syrah.

I next stopped at Daou.  I had not had their wines before, but I am so glad I did.  Daniel Daou was very interesting to speak with. He and his brother had been engineers in CA and loved Bordeaux and the wines made there.  He saw the potential in Paso Robles and he and his brother endeavored to make Paso Robles a force in wine making. We talked about their various vineyards and where they are hoping to take their wines. Their cabs were outstanding and at a great price point around $20.  Their other wines were beautiful as well.

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We last headed to ZD.  Many of my friends love this winery and they were very fun to chat with.  By that time I was only tasting reds, and I enjoyed their Pinot Noir and their Cabernet Sauvignon.

2:00pm  Festival over.  It was only 2 hours.  Mr. M. and I had such a great time, we decided to keep it going by heading to Epernay for a final tasting.  It was packed so we tried the wines quickly and then walked over to Jetties Beach.  The overcast weather and sprinkling rain didn’t deter us.  It was a perfect day to relax on the beach for a short while.  We then went to Sandbar, the restaurant on the beach.  They had buck-a-shuck fresh Oysters and they were amazing and fresh!  Absolutely amazing!!!

3:30pm  We stopped in the Culinary Tent on Jetties Beach and bought tasty olive oil.  I would definitely like to come back to the culinary tent next year to visit the vendors, but by the time we arrived, it was mostly closed down.

4:30pm This was a great day and we returned in perfect time to take the kids for a walk out to dinner downtown.  What a great festival!!!  Well done Nantucket!

About Author

After graduating from Brandeis University, Alison worked as a teacher at two of the top high schools in the country and spent her summers traveling the world. On one of her adventures, she visited Stellenbosch and Paarl in South Africa, which ignited a lifelong passion for learning about wine. In 2004, she worked as a Wine Consultant for the Traveling Vineyard and began to study wine more intensively. While working as a high tech recruiter, she completed her Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in the UK in 2018. Her wine travels have taken her to the wine growing regions of the US, Europe, Africa and Australia. Alison is a member of the Boston Sommelier Society, a member of the Guild of Master Sommeliers and is a Wine, Travel and Lifestyle Media Influencer. Currently, after leaving her recruiting career, Alison is running her business, Artisan Wine Group, teaching wine courses, running private and corporate wine events and organizing wine tours.

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