Toast of the Island - Cape Cod LIFE Publications

Toast of the Island

The 2011 Nantucket Wine Festival promises to be a premier summer season opener with high-profile events, renowned winemakers, and fine island cuisine.

Photo by Terry Pommett

Photo by Terry Pommett

The Nantucket Wine Festival commemorates 15 years of bringing some of the most celebrated winemakers to the island during this year’s four-day event, which takes place May 18 through 22. Presented by Nantucket Combined Charities, the 2011 festival once again toasts world-renowned wines paired with superb cuisine against the backdrop of some of the island’s most beautiful locations.

The festival traces back to 1990 when Denis Toner, then working as sommelier at Nantucket’s distinguished restaurant, Chanticleer, realized that there was no better place than the island for a wine and food festival. The festival got off the ground in 1997 and word spread organically to wine makers and wine lovers.

Photo by Terry Pommett

Photo by Terry Pommett

“Part of the reason for the festival’s success is Nantucket’s reputation in the industry as home to a large concentration of fine restaurants, so it is a very important market for wine,” says Toner. “Over the past 15 years, I have spent considerable time seeking out quality wineries from around the globe—the entire point of the festival is to emphasize quality over quantity. We’re not the biggest, but I think we’ve proven over the years we are among the most selective.”

Photo by Terry Pommett

Photo by Terry Pommett

Highlights of the 2011 festival include the Luncheon Symposium program, featuring an hour-long tasting and discussion, followed by a four-course luncheon of exquisite food paired with the wines of the participating vignerons. The symposia include: Burgundy Roundtable (hosted by The Nantucket Golf Club), California Classics (hosted by the Brick House Bistro), and American Beauties (hosted by American Seasons). The pièce de resistance at this year’s festival, the Premiere Grand Cru Classe Tasting and Luncheon (hosted by the Great Harbor Yacht Club), gives attendees an opportunity to sample 12 premier grand cru Saint-Emilion wines, all handcrafted in Bordeaux.

The 2011 festival has named Tim Mondavi of Continuum Estate as “Luminary of the Year.” The Luminary of the Year award recognizes an individual who has had a notable effect on the landscape of wine and food. “We are very excited to have Tim Mondavi as our Luminary of the Year,” says Toner. “He comes from a long line of distinguished winemakers with a great American name and he is making news with his venture, Continuum Estate.”

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