Enhancing Life | One Sip At A Time!June 4, 2020
As we travel on this road called life, we would like to introduce you to our Cheers to Charities benefactor for the month of June, Palliative & Supportive Care on Nantucket (PASCON). The mission of PASCON is a specialized health care program dedicated to providing excellent physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care for persons with life-threatening illness and their families.
The PASCON Foundation is dedicated to funding all of PASCON’s programs and services so that they may be provided free to the community without insurance reimbursement and to educating the community and raising awareness about palliative and supportive care issues. Their motto of “Compassion, Support, Respect” is something that can be evidenced beyond just the staff, volunteers, and patients involved with their programs. This can also be seen in the passion found in winemaking.
The diversity of wines, from different regions and grape varieties, is what makes them all so special and unique. Each wine has its own story and history of where it came from, how it was made, and about the land and people who helped to shape it into what it becomes. Much like a community of people, it takes a village to raise these wines to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment and see them through until their final days.
Consuming wine can also be translated as a sense of place and time, as to where you were when you had that wine, who did you share it with, and also the influence of where the wine came from. The Iberian Peninsula of Portugal and Spain offers delicious wines of character from some lesser known winemaking regions to enjoy as we delve into summer and all the pleasures that Nantucket has to offer.
Living 30 miles out to sea has its bonuses. The salty air is abundant almost anywhere you roam, the entire edge of the island is a beach, and the sense of community here is strong. One of the downsides of being so far away from the American mainland is the lack of easy access to proper medical for someone who has a terminal illness. Luckily, the Marla Ceely Lamb Fund was established to help defray the costs of transportation and lodging for patients who must travel off-island for cancer treatment. This fund, which is managed and administered by the PASCON Foundation, is made possible by the fundraising efforts of Marla’s family and friends, along with the generosity of the Nantucket Community.
This sense of community can be found in the small towns of Portugal where wine is made. Our wine travels begin to find an artisanal discovery from Portugal that is a beautiful example of what this indigenous grape has to offer. The best expression of the white Alvarinho grape comes from the extreme north of this country, right on the border with Spain, which is divided here by the Minho River. NORTICO ALVARINHO is hence named Nortico, in reference to being in the North. This wine is produced on the south bank of this river in sustainably grown vines on granite soil in plots so small they are called “jardins,” which translates to gardens in Portuguese. This is a young, fresh wine. It has fresh citrus, peach and tropical aromas paired with clean, juicy fruit and vibrant minerality. The bright acidity makes a lovely summer wine to drink on its own as an aperitif or with a noon-day meal of fish tacos or oysters on the half shell.
The beautiful, picturesque label is in homage to the small tile ateliers who historically produce the 14 cm x 14 cm tiles shaped by scratch and painted by hand. These tiles can be found on all types of buildings while walking the streets of Oporto, where the famous Port wine in made, or Lisbon, the country’s capital city. Not only are they a durable building material, they are also considered an early form of storytelling and graphic design, much like the examples of scrimshaw from Nantucket’s whaling days. Both of these capture the spirit of the people and the local aesthetics from which they come.
Planning in Advance
It has been said that two things in life are certain, taxes and death. And while many people wait last minute to do their taxes right before the deadline that is the exact same every year, how prepared can we be for our final days when we have no idea when that time might come? One of the many valuable services that PASCON offers is information about Advance Directives. These are documents that provide directions for your health care, if you should become unable to communicate your wishes yourself, at the time that a health care decision must be made. This could include a health care proxy and a living will, of which both are simple, easy to do and important no matter what stage in life you are. The time you take to do these things now will save you the hassle of uncertainty at a later time in your life.
It is also best to plan ahead when thinking of wine travel to Spain during the off-season of Nantucket. The most visited region for wine travels in Spain is the well-known region of Rioja. However, there is another “R” region worthy of your attention.
Produced in a very small town in the north central area of the Ribera del Duero wine region in Spain, here you will find TORREMORON TEMPRANILLO, where this famous red grape and the winemaking that revolves around it is the lifeblood of this region. The majority of the town folk work at the winery, the rest work at the only restaurant/bar in the area – talk about the sense of community! What makes this region so unique in its grape growing success is the high desert climate with enormous diurnal temperature shifts from day to night, along with its lack of annual rainfall and the high elevation of where this particular vineyard in the region.
The extremely old-vine vineyard (on average over 100 years) of Tempranillo, also known as Tinto Fino in the region, is planted on limestone soils and this youthful, pure wine is produced only in stainless steel, combining to produce an unadulterated version of what this grape and region have to offer. The wine has aromas of red berries and a rugged mineral character. There is a slight spiciness on the palate that follows with a chewy, juicy finish. The wine is middle-of-the road, not being to light in flavors and aromas, or too heavily burdened with texture by oak. It would be the ultimate pairing for your festive summer bbq of grilled meats and sausages, or as a red option for those who enjoy a not so bold red with their Nantucket fresh catch of the day.
Like most non-profit organizations where the lifeblood of the operation revolves around fundraising, giving time also has an important impact on being able to provide the services that are offered. By volunteering with PASCON, one’s heart can truly find peace and fulfillment by being of service to your neighbor. Volunteer Opportunities included staying with patients to give respite breaks to caregivers, driving patients to doctor’s appointments, and just spending time with a patient to read to them, listen to their story, and be there. What may seem like a small gesture for you could be the highlight of a patient’s day or help to relieve stress for their family. Being a volunteer increases self-confidence, as it gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment by doing food for others in your community. This is something to cheers about!
Taking us back to Portugal on our wine journey is the FITAPRETA TOURIGA VAI NUA “UNOAKED” red wine. Vai Nua literally translates to going naked, and hence the name of this wine as it sees no oak. This wine comes from the Alentejo region, located in the southeastern central part of the country closer to the Spanish border than the Portuguese coast. It is made from 100% Touriga Nacional from sustainably grown vines on average of 30 years old, tended in schist rocky soil, and a true expression of Portugal’s King of grapes.
The wine has warm, lush, ripe fruit, yet is fresh and light on its feet due to a partial carbonic maceration. This is a winemaking technique in which the initial fermentation is not started by the addition of yeast as in traditional winemaking, but rather by filling a sealed vessel with carbon dioxide and then adding whole, intact bunches of grapes to begin the fermentation from the inside of the grape out on its own. The result is a fruitier style red wine with softer tannins, that makes this wine extremely versatile.
Dark purple in color, don’t be deceived by the ultra-fruity bubble-gum aroma with fresh notes of boysenberry, blackberry, plum and blueberry. On the palate, you will find savage notes of iron, beef blood, anise and rose petals. The complexity of this simple wine, along with the moderate level of alcohol and lack of tannin, make it a perfect accompaniment for a more serious charcuterie and cheese platter.
A Group Effort
While PASCON offers support to the patient in need, they also offer a myriad of Support Groups to close family members and friends throughout the continuum of the patient’s illness. Each of these groups is designed specifically to provide one another with comfort, encouragement, and advice with a particular focus. From a caregiver support group to help with stress reduction, to a grief and bereavement support group to help those who have lost a loved one, there are even services for ill or grieving children and their families. These groups may help to fill a gap between medical treatment and the need for emotional support.
Making wine is seen as a group effort, where the sum is greater than its parts. Our wine travels take us next to one of the oldest established wine regions of Portugal. The temperate Dão region is located in mountainous Northern Central Portugal. It is the origin of the red grape Touriga Nacional, which is the principal component of fortified Port wines. Historically, this Port wine was favored by the British. It made its way to America on British ship, as the barrels were used as ballast for the Trans-Atlantic crossing. It was also favored because fortified wines would hold well enough to be consumed along the way on these long sea voyages.
In recent years, we have seen the rise in production of still wines from the region that still use the same traditional grape varieties found in Port, however just not fortified in strength. QUINTA DE SAES TINTO is one such wine. This wine is a field blend, drawing on the tradition of interplanting different grape varietals in a place to give a more cohesive and complete picture of the terroir. It is a blend of 25% Tinta Roriz, 25% Touriga Naçional, 25% Alfrocheiro, 25% Jaen. The sustainably grown vines are on a granite-based soil in a temperate climate. The winemaking here is “old school,” in that the wine is made in the vineyard as a reflection of the soil, and there is little intervention in the winery. After fermentation with wild yeasts, the wine is aged in used large format French oak to create some roundness and cohesiveness in the wines.
The wine is bright ruby-garnet in color. The nose is bright fresh cherry, pomegranate, rose petal and flint. The palate is elegant and fresh, with spice notes wrapped around a core of fresh cherry fruit. The finish is long, with juicy acidity and a touch of minerality. The fresh red fruit and delicate aromatics of this wine would be delicious with poultry, wild game, and a combination of exotic mushrooms.
Learn more about PASCON and their services, or donate directly, at www.pascon.org.
Here is how it works to support our partner charity of the month:
- The CHEERS TO CHARITIES Wine Pack is a collection of four hand-picked, Sommelier selected wines that are congruent with the mission of the partnered non-profit of the month. (This month’s selections are the wines mentioned above.)
- The Wine Pack is available to purchase throughout the month, beginning on the first day through the last day of the month (whatever date that may be…).
- One wine from the pack will be featured each week at our #WineWithJenny Virtual Tasting, held every Thursday at 6pm EST via Facebook + Instagram Live!
- You can order the Wine Pack online or call the store to order. We are currently offering curbside pick-up or island delivery, only.
- Each Wine Pack purchased is $79, of which 10% will be donated to the charity at the end of the month.
- You can purchase as many Wine Packs as you want throughout the duration of the month… think Fathers’s Day, Thank You offering, Birthday present, Graduation gift (college!).
- Monthly subscription services are available, let’s keep the ball rolling! Please inquire.
- While individual bottles of the wines are available for sale, only proceeds from the purchase of the Wine Pack are part of this initiative.
- The Wine Pack is unique on its own and not considered for a case discount, however the number of bottles count toward a case discount quantity amount.