Summer 2011 Host's Guide: Ultimate Lobster Bake: Wine

  • Brett Anderson

J Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay Russian River Valley
Geologist-turned-vintner Judy Jordan’s J Vineyards & Winery focuses entirely on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, producing refined yet effusive sparkling wines and elegant table wines. This Russian River Valley white is redolent of lemon blossoms, conjuring flavors of summer peach, ripe lemon, and nutty nougat. Fermentation in oak barrels lends the wine a subtle richness and versatility that enables it to pair seamlessly with the burrata with heirloom tomatoes and white-bean bruschetta with prosciutto. ($28)

Blackbird Vineyards 2010 Arriviste Rosé
Though Napa Valley is known as Cabernet Sauvignon country, a handful of vintners has chosen to emphasize other Bordeaux varietals—most significantly Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Some critics have argued that these grapes perform best as supporting players, but Michael Polenske—founder of Blackbird Vineyards and a contrarian by nature—takes a different point of view. His label’s first wine, like the great blends of Pomerol, gave Merlot the leading role, and he has since built upon the success of those releases. Blackbird Vineyards’ Illustration, a Merlot-based blend, and Paramour, a red wine that gives emphasis to Cabernet Franc, continue to attract collectors, but those seeking a more egalitarian expression of Polenske’s vineyards should chill a bottle of Arriviste, a refreshing Rosé that achieves a beautiful harmony among its three component grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. This vibrantly pink wine exudes a bouquet of fresh strawberries and brioche and, on the palate, offers peach, cherry, kiwi, and orange flavors. The lovely balance and rich fruit provides a piquant counterpoint to our spicier take on the traditional lobster bake. ($24)

Villa Sandi Cartizze Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore
For several generations, the Moretti Polegato family has upheld the ancient traditions of viticulture in the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and Montello e Piave regions of the Veneto. The heart of the family’s operation is Villa Sandi, an ornate, wedding-cake-white classical villa in the Palladian style constructed in 1622. This structure embodies the passion for art and agriculture that informs the family’s array of compelling Proseccos and eminently age-worthy red table wines. Just as the villa serves as the architectural centerpiece of the winery, one vineyard in the family’s portfolio stands at the center of its sparkling wine production. La Rivetta—located in the Cartizze appellation, which comprises 252 acres situated between Santo Stefano and Santo Pietro di Barbozza in Valdobbiadene—is a unique plot of land with all of the characteristics of a grand cru vineyard. Its moderate microclimate and calcareous sandstone and clay soils contribute to the wine’s delicate pear aromas and subtle lemon- and apple-flavored palate. This soft, creamy sparkling wine marries well with the fiore di latte gelati and fresh berries. ($25)