I shop at several different wine stores in town, and I belong to a wine club. This is just the way I shop. I do the same with my grocery shopping as I am very particular about what brands I buy, the quality of the fresh produce and meats, and the uniqueness of their more obscure offerings. Each store has its strengths and weaknesses in these regards. The same holds true with wine stores albeit with different criteria. Perhaps a wine store has a focus on Old World wines, strictly California wines or only obscure small producers of biodynamic wines. You need to know where to go to get what you need.
For me, wine is a beverage and a passion so I have to shop where the owners will know my name and have wine recommendations set aside for me without me asking. Sure I can drink wine from anywhere but when someone knows what I like/love, and they are looking out for me, how can I go wrong?
Think about the experience I would have missed had I not gone with the recommendations of the staff at goat.sheep.cow.north last week (Spanish Grenache). Or securing the last three bottles that Justin from Monarch Wine Merchants found of the 2015 vintage Beaujolais Blanc by Jean-Paul Brun that I love so much. It is this kind of care that I appreciate so much that reinforces why I shop the way I shop.
A Couple Recommendations
Domaine la Colombe Rosé 2016
The great thing about this rosé is that is a late arrival. When others start arriving in March or April and sellout by September, this one arrives in June and therefore stays around through the fall. We started drinking this rosé a couple of years ago when the Houchart and the Gassac had sold out. This is made in classic Provence rosé style blending Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah varietals. This winemaker sources the grapes from various vineyards throughout the region.
This vintage has a young tart strawberry nose as well as in the flavor. As the wine warms in the glass, you may experience ripe melon flavor. It is not as bright as the others we have tried but has enough acid to pair well with food. It ends with an earthy finish. We drank this wine with our dinner the other night when I made a Deconstructed Pork Bahn Mi, and it was the perfect beverage for this spiced pork dish.
This wine is recommended by the owner of The Wine Shop of Charleston. Last I checked she still had plenty on hand and nicely priced at $13.00 a bottle.
Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Blanc 2014
On my first visits to Monarch Wine Merchants, I shared with Justin my love of the Chateauneuf de Pape Blanc wine. How this was the first white wine that I really liked and hoped to find others to expand my white wine repertoire. One of my concerns is the cost of Chateauneuf de Pape (CDP) wines starting at $42 at the low end and going up from there. I could tell that he was making a mental note as we continued to get acquainted.
On a later visit, I was looking for new white wines. Justin immediately pulled this white blend from the shelf and suggested I give it a try. Then he went on to explain that Cassis is a coastal wine producing region that is south and west of CDP. He said that Cassis AOC wines are usually blended (like CDP) and that I should give it a try. Additionally, this bottle sells for $25.00 which is half as much as a typical CDP.
I could not have been better advised.
This is a delightful wine. It has a bright straw yellow color. At first, it was too cold, and the tartness is a bit overpowering. Do not be afraid to drink it at 65-68 degrees. When done so, this wine is big, rich, with soft edges and wonderfully balanced. Big citrusy fruit hits your palate along with a slight effervescence. This wine spent time in oak which adds a richness that adds to the texture of this wine. The wine is a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc. It is dry and juicy with a salty air and mineral finish. This wine would pair well with white fish. Justin, you did me well. Call Monarch Wine Merchants to check on availability.
Off topic and a Sideways Recommendation:
Speaking of Total Wine I have observed a major shift in the past few years. Have you noticed when you walk into the store there is an overwhelming preponderance of “Winery Direct” tags on most of the wines? Of course, there are the widely available national brands. They are usually in big stacks to get your attention and make you feel comfortable around familiar names.
A Good or Bad Thing?
But then everything else is “Winery Direct” aka “I have never heard of this before.” This has always been one of their “things,” but it is now the entire store. The bottom line is that they are buying wine in bulk and it is bottled just for them. You will never find this wine anywhere else. It that a bad thing? For me yes, because my experience with wines bought at Total Wine is very much a hit and miss. And even the “hit” is a middle of the road and pleases all palates style of wine. In the same way that I have moved away from the national industrial wines of my early wine drinking days, I have now moved past the more misses than hits in these middle of the road wines.
The sideways recommendation
That said when a friend serves at libation purchased at Total Wine that I enjoy, I been known to go in and just buy that particular wine. (i.e., Casada Morales Rosé).
Wine is like art, and I am in search of a masterpiece that is in my budget. I need folks to be looking out for me, and I would not have it any other way.
That is all for now.