FMN – June 2022 – Father’s Day Month

A June-long celebration of everything dad related

I find it refreshing every year when June rolls around and we can take the time to remember, pay homage to and dote on all the fathers out there. Many wrongfully assume that one day encompasses the entire celebration. Rather, the festivities kick off at the first of the month, crescendo on June 19th and then the remainder of the month represents a proverbial denouement. This gives the rest of the family convenience and ample time for presents, special favors and a myriad of cuisine (and beverage) opportunities.

Although I could, with voluminous text, pontificate about all my imbibements of the entire month, I will narrow my consumption window to the pinnacle of the merriment with Father’s Day itself. I do, however, encourage all fathers to rally and petition for the month-long celebration that was obviously intended when the holiday was created. Honestly, if it was really intended to be just one day, would the “creators-of-holidays” not have selected a Saturday rather than the day prior to a dreaded Monday.

Enough with my digression. After doing the token “fatherly duties” during the early part of the day, we move into the afternoon; the time for grill prep and a beverage. This requires some planning so your choice will not only satisfy the need for alcohol but also travel tableside to pair with your grilled animal. There are endless choices depending on preference, mood, relative humidity and exactly what animal fell victim to the sacrifice for the greater good.

Although I pour and drink the heck out of Southern Rhone wine, there is something inherently sexy about the appellations of the Northern Rhone. Make no mistake, this is Syrah country. Although many appellations conferment with the white grape Viognier, Cornas remains 100% Syrah.

The vineyards are planted in terraced rocky slopes called “chaillées” (shy – yeah) on east to southeast facing slopes of the Massif Central. Acting as a natural amphitheater these semicircular slopes of decomposed granite soils protect the vines from the brutal cold Mistral winds. The appellation is limited to this one village and has less than 400 acres (155ha) under vine. With the average yield being less than most famous Bordeaux appellations, these really are a bargain for such an amazing expression of Syrah.

It’s sad that many fortified wines have lost popularity; seen as stodgy and relegated to an “old man’s drink.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This topic and these wines warrant a myriad of future articles, but for this month, I will be drinking Port wine. Port gets its name from the town of Oporto, where, traditionally, the wines were held for shipping in large warehouses. A neutral grape spirit is added to the wines during the fermentation process resulting in a wine with unfermented residual sugar and a higher alcohol by volume (abv), around 20%.

Specifically, the style of Port known as tawny, sees oxidative aging in barrels and is blended from a multitude of differing ages of wine. Much different from other styles of wine, the age designation you see on the label is really an average age of wines blended together (some older and some younger). The tawny name is akin to the red-brown the wine develops after years of controlled exposure to oxygen. I will be having dessert during Father’s Day-Month and a well-aged tawny Port may be the best accompaniment I’ve ever had with pecan pie.

Now the feasting has completed and our protagonist hero, also know as Father, finds a quiet corner for relaxation, contemplation and…whisk(e)y. Every person you ask will have a different favorite here and there truly is no wrong answer. For many, they will pull and pour whatever hooch they have on hand, but this situation and whiskey choice has a special meaning. A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and we made the decision to buy a special (and expensive) bottle that would only be poured when we were together. Twice a year we sit, with a double, and discuss life, the past, the future, and sometimes we say nothing at all.

I could pontificate about Midleton’s master distiller Brian Nation or discuss the whiskey itself being a single pot still and single grain, averaging 13 -35 years of age. In this case, I see all that information as semantics. The point is, buy a good bottle and use it as an excuse to have real conversations with your father, before that option is lost.

Although, to many that know me, this may seem like a temperate Father’s Day with only three types of adult beverages. First, I am touched that you worry about my lack of consumption. It is reassuring to know that people care. Alluding back to my initial statements of the month-long holiday initiative, the celebration then becomes a marathon not a sprint. You may also compare this wisdom of consumption akin to the story of the old and young bull looking out over the field of cows. Ah, just a few of the many pearls, as fathers, we pass down to our offspring. To the fathers in Heaven, to the fathers on Earth, to the fathers to come, may they all know their worth. Sláinte.


Suggested Wines:

Domaine Durand Cornas AOP Prémices 2019                    Northern Rhone, France                              $45

This 100% Syrah sees 12 months of barrel ageing (20% new oak). The youthfulness of this wine is first evident by its deep ruby color. The nose leaps with vibrant black fruit (blackberry, currant), blueberry, plum, pencil graphite, spice (anise, black peppercorn). The palate is dry but ripe with well-balanced vibrant acidity. The upfront warming alcohol and firm but integrated chalky tannins give way to a prolonged spicy berry compote finish. This wine is just starting to show development and would benefit from a further 5 – 7 years aging. This wine begs for food. Pair with grilled lamb, venison au poivre, beef with truffles.

Budget alternative: Chave Selection Saint Joseph Offerus ~ $35


Sandeman 40-year tawny port                                               Oporto, Portugal          $160

The aromas of dried apricot, sweet balsamic, raw honey, and a nuttiness. The palate has obvious residual sugar (125g/L) but seems perceptively lower with the elevated level of acidity. The flavors mirror the nose with the added note of nut skin, reduced orchard fruit and a slight citrus rind. The alcohol is evident but not hot or off putting. The flavors and alcohol continue to a complex, lingering finish that is reminiscent of a dessert containing orchard fruit flambe cooked in balsamic and honey. It seems expensive but you can sip on these wines for three months or so before you start to see some fading. Pair with pecan pie, crème caramel, roasted chestnut dishes, aged Manchego cheeses.

(Budget alternative) Sandeman 20-year tawny port ~ $50


Midleton Very Rare Irish Whisky 2018                                  County Cork, Ireland                                $250

This is a very special whiskey and it demonstrates this with not only its complexity but unbelievable smoothness. The nose has some hints of fruit (green apple, baked pear, unripe banana), spice (cinnamon bark, clove) and a citrus component. On the palate, one first notices how welcoming the alcohol greets you. The spices and fruits continue with an added toasted note, displaying the time in American Oak (used Bourbon barrels). The complexity evolves with a spicy cooked cereal note lingering on the finish. This may be one of the best whiskies I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting; and worth the price. The age designation was the year it was bottled and there is a limited release every year. Pair with apple crumble, smoked salmon, assorted nuts and dried fruits or, even better, a chat with your dad / son.

(Budget alternative) Yellow Spot ~ $100