1999 Nantucket Wine Festival

It was spring, warm and sunny, we had a new (to us) 1986 Kawasaki Concours motorcycle to try out, and the Nantucket Wine Festival gave us the perfect excuse to meander around the Cape Cod area. We were off!

Friday, May 21st
Friday evening - miraculously, I ended my day at 5:30pm instead of the 2am of previous nights. I drove up to meet Bob in Westboro, where we left the Mustang. We put the hard bags onto the Concours, climbed into our gear, and we were off!

First, some nice curvy back roads to get started. We went past goldfinches, some red-winged blackbirds watching over marshes, a few hawks. The trees were all full with spring leaves, and I began to wonder what the names of them all were. I'm pretty bad at telling trees apart. We moved down into cranberry bog land, and passed the exit for Carver, which always reminds me of the Faire.

This is always one of my favorite parts of the trip, the first sight of ocean. I love the ocean, and to see the waves and boats, and to feel the crisp air on me, is heaven. I could ride those coastal roads for hours, just gazing out at the water and rocks.

We hit the bridge, with no backup at all, and headed north and inland. We pulled into Hyannis around 8:10pm, found our two friends Donna and Beth in residence, and headed out to Baxter's Restaurant. This neat seafood place has a barge attached to it, and boats were coming up to dock while we ate outside in the warm starlight air. We were a diverse bunch - one had soda, one wine, one beer, and one a rum & coke.

The food was delicious, and Bob helped one of the larger boats dock. We talked about which wines we'd want to taste first tomorrow, and then headed back to the hotel. Bob took the motorcycle out to get a lock, and then we went to sleep.

Watching trees glide past -
spruce? pine? Maple? Sadly,
Can't remember names.

Again, ocean nears,
My heart sighs with deep pleasure
waves wash over me

No seagulls tonite?
Alas, our french fries shall waste
While robber-birds sleep

Saturday, May 22nd
We had promised each other to make sure we were all awake on time, but we all managed to wake early and get showered and dressed. We grabbed some donuts and OJ from their offering, which was in fact also for a sailing class next door. I was intrigued, looking at the people that would spend the day learning to sail. Then, we walked the short distance to the ferry.

Erp, a few misunderstandings here. First, Donna didn't realize we needed reservations, so while Bob and I had the round trips long reserved, they were completely full and Donna & Beth had to take the slow ferry out. Luckily, there was space on the fast ferry back. Second, the hotel had promised us all coupons for the fast ferry, but as it turns out the coupons were invalid. Time to talk to the hotel. In any case, Donna & Beth boarded the slow ferry, while Bob and I climbed into the plush seats of the fast one.

Ferry We laughed as the open back of the Fast Ferry filled with people - we knew from experience that they would quickly find it too cold. Sure enough, once the ferry started moving they all flooded back inside, now scrounging for places to sit. I went out for a short while to wave when we overtook and passed the slower ferry. At the other end, we found where the first lecture was to take place and bought a hip-bag for my heels. We went back to the ferry then, and met Donna & Beth.

We wandered back over to the lecture location, where a Jamaican porter pointed us to another building on the "left und side". We smiled and went along to it, right at 11:30, and we were the first ones there! It was gorgeous out, so people slowly filled in. They had a series of Mondavi Coastals there, including a light La Familia wine and some Coastal Reds. All were quite tasty. Then we sat down for the lecture.

The woman went through a slide show explaining how wine pots have been found that were 5,000 years old, and how the Macedonians grew wine. Even the Egyptians had walled vineyards. The lecture was very interesting, and at 12:45 we were done. Unfortunately, the wine tasting itself was at 1pm and was at the "other end of the island".

We raced to the shuttle spot, only to find a pile of people there with a random number having tickets. We bought tickets, and waited, while a huge crowd gathered. The ticket person didn't let people know she had them, so when the shuttle finally showed up, she started selling them to people that had managed to push ahead in line, even though us ticket holders were now in back. Some people who had bought tickets first didn't even get onto the bus! I had to sit on Bob's lap to get onto it.

Finally, tho, the bus traversed the short distance to the tasting hall, and we disembarked. We grabbed our brochures and glasses and entered the room.

Tasters With that in mind, I sent Bob off to find some Estancia Meritage while we waited. This was high on my list to try. He came back with a great story - he'd arrived at the booth and dutifully asked for the Estancia Meritage. The rep looked at him in surprise, asking how Bob knew they had the Meritage there.

Bob shrugged and replied he had been sent for it. The rep covertly took his glass and poured him some literally 'under the table', and Bob brought it back for us. Very smooth, plummy, spicy - with a dry tobacco taste to it.

A second "primary wine to taste" for this festival was Banyuls - a red, port-like wine. As it so happens, one Banyuls vendor was against this food line and we tried some - smooth, light, not quite porty but definitely on that road.

One of my aims at the festival was to find some good Amarone - a wine from Italy, near Venice. I did find a Sergio Zenato Amarone, very full and rich. This was a Classico '91, from Allegrini.

The wines I tried next were quite numerous. St Supery was quite good, as was Carneros Creek and Pommery, one of my favorite Champagne houses. We tried Nantucket Vineyards, the resident winery, and Westport Rivers, my favorite from Massachusetts. There were also quite a few ports on my list, which I worked through with careful abandon.

By the time we were finished with the tasting, we were ready to return home. One of the riders on our shuttle back into town broke into "Mack the Knife" over the intercom system, with an amazingly good rendition that had the whole bus singing along. All too quickly, the ferry brought us back onto the mainland and to the rest of the weekend.

We finished off with dinner at Baxter's again, and Donna and Beth headed home. Bob and I went to sleep, preparing for Martha's Vineyard the next day.

Sunday, May 23nd
We watched the weather channel a bit, making sure we could beat the thunderstorms predicted for today, then sprinted out of the hotel along the coast for Wood's Hole and the ferry. We managed to get there just as one left but before the second of the set - the cargo ferry - left at 9:45. We easily got tickets and rode the motorcycle onto the ferry. We were worried about it in the waves, but it was actually pretty calm and we got across the short channel easily enough.

We went up first to Gay Head Cliffs, where I thought Bob wanted me to get off the bike but actually it was unbalanced. Oops, we went over from a standstill. Luckily the bike wasn't damaged much. We saw the cliffs, then went to the other side where we saw the one-minute ferry over to Chappaquidic. This is when the rain started lightly - we drove around a bit more but headed back to the ferry. Very quickly, we were in line to get back on.

This time we took the covered ferry back, another easy ride. The rain was done when we reached Woods Hole, and we went up to the Cape Cod Winery in Falmouth. We chatted with the owners, and got 2 more merlot clippings to try in our back yard. I tucked these into my leather jacket, and we rode home carefully, making sure not to injure them.

All of the wine reviews are at the database on My Wine Page - take a look!

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