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A Tasting Weekend: Part One

This past weekend was a weekend of wine with friends, a wine tasting on Saturday and again on Sunday. Fun times, new wines, a gala celebration and a trip to a new wine store. All in all, it was a great weekend. Here we go…

Wine with Friends

2016 rosé gassacI am sure we all go through this. You reach out to friends to get together, and you can not find a date that works for the group. Next thing you know it is 6 or 8 weeks out before a gathering materializes. This describes what it took to get this group together at our house on Thursday. Eight weeks after first trying we finally got together for pizza and wine. I asked the guys to bring a bottle of something that they liked. Gary and I had our Moulin de Gassac Guilheim Rosé on hand which is still our “everyday” wine. At $9.89 a bottle with a 10% case discount, this we can drink all day long and not hurt the bank.

The plan was to order pizza so really most any wine would work. The guys brought a bottle of their favorite rosé Whispering Angel.

For the record… I am not saying anything here that I did not say that evening. It was fun drinking the bottles that were shared and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Oh That Angel

pink wine

Whispering Angel is good and well marketed, but I am not sure it is worth the $20-$32 price tag. I think a lot of the price is perceived value versus enjoyment value. They have done an excellent job marketing the wine, and that costs money which raises the price tag.  I have said this before, it is a decent bottle of wine, but you can drink many other rosés for a third to half the price for similar enjoyment value. Perhaps its because

Perhaps I say this because I can be a bit frugal, I do not know. I would encourage you all to give it a try and see what you think. The best price for this wine will be at Costco and at independent wine stores. Definitely not at grocery stores.


Saturday: A Three Stop Day

We had a busy Saturday. It started with a wine tasting, immediately followed by pre-event cocktails and then a gala for a local LGBT organization. Pace yourself, Rick, Pace yourself.

Tasting Burgundy at goat.sheep.cow.south

A tasting at goat.sheep.cow is always fun because you not only taste fabulous wine, but they also pair the wine with exquisite cheeses and charcuterie. This was the case for Saturday as they showcased four wines from Burgundy, an Aligoté, a Chardonnay and two Pinot Noirs. Albeit the proper name for the chard is Pouilly-Fuissé and the two pinots  – simply Bourgogne (Rouge) or Red Burgundy even though one does list the Pinot Noir varietal on the label. This, of course, is done specifically for the US market as doing so in France is stating the obvious.

They all four were delicious… and the pairing made them all truly shine. 

tasting weekend

The Pairings

Domaine Charles Audoin Bourgogne Aligoté paired with Delice de Bourgogne from France. This cheese is triple cream with no apologies.  Expect a little pungent but creamy wins the day. The wine cuts right through the fat allowing your mouth to beg for more cheese.

Domaine des Gerbeaux Pouilly-Fuissé 2016 paired with Ossau Iraty, cheese from the Pyrenees in France. Aged at least 90 days and has a firm, slightly oily texture. It is both nutty and sweet. Yum!

Domaine Morey-Coffinet Bourgogne (Pinot Noir) 2015 paired with Wisconsin Pleasant Ridge Reserve. This is a raw cow’s milk cheese made in the alpine tradition like Gruyere and Beaufort. This is an award-winning cheese that makes you think you are sitting on a hillside in Switzerland.

Domaine Charles Audoin Bourgogne 2014 (Red Burgundy) paired with Rosette de Lyon, a new world version of a classic French sausage made in California. Perfection is all I can say!

tasting weekend

Tasting Aligoté

While Gary and I both enjoyed all of the wines and the pairings we honed in on the first wine, the Aligoté. Unique and new is always exciting for us and when it stands out in a crowd, you have a winner.

Domaine Charles Audoin Bourgogne Aligoté 2016 – (Burgundy White).

Neither Gary or I had ever heard of this grape. We learned that it is only grown in Burgundy, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Bulgaria. It is a thin-skinned grape, so the fragility makes it a challenge. But is also fruits and ripens early so places with shorter growing seasons find this one of the few varietals they can cultivate. In Burgundy, it has always been the bastard stepchild to Chardonnay. But done right as described in this excellent New York Times article from a couple of months back and you will see this wine has a place and deserves respect.

I have to be honest; I was not expecting to like this wine because what I was being told and the descriptor card was not signaling wine that I would like. But I was absolutely wrong. I could not get enough of this. It is medium bodied yet crisp and bright. It is earthy and mineral-driven with a balanced layer of tart green apple and other summertime flavors.


The two reds were a real treat. Burgundy’s of this quality in the $33-$34 price point is hard to find. I enjoyed tasting both of these exquisite wines leaning more toward the Domaine Morey-Coffinet Bourgogne (Pinot Noir) 2015. However, I have to admit that the complexity of these wines is above my skill and wine knowledge level.

That said, this is why I go to tastings like this. They provide an affordable way for me to sample wine that I otherwise would not drink. I look at this as part of my wine education. Burgundy is intimidating but tasting wines like these provide great opportunity to learn.

Next Stop: The Living Room at The Dewberry Hotel

Our friends who were also attending the AFFA gala at the Gailliard on Saturday thought it would be fun to start the evening with a pre-cocktail hour cocktail at The Dewberry.  Which is a mid-century modern, former federal office building converted into a classy, upscale boutique hotel on Meeting Street. It has a prime location across the street from Marion Square in the heart of downtown Charleston.

tasting weekend

The Living Room is the lobby bar outfitted with mid-century modern furnishings and cocktail offerings that make you think you are in an episode of Mad Men. Gary and I decided to stick with wine as it was going to be a long night ahead and we needed to keep our heads on straight.

Cocktail du jour

So we both chose to drink the only rosé on the menu Phillippe Viallet Vin de Savoie Gamay Rosé 2016.  I know, big surprise a rosé but it was the wine we were most comfortable drinking based on the selections. While we were quite pleased with the wine when we allowed other to sample ours they chose a different wine (a Sparkling Rosé Prosecco). My guess why is because the Gamay rosé has bigger fruit and lower acidity than a traditional rosé from Provence. And some will interpret those attributes into “sweet.”

It was delightful, and I was happy with my selection.

tasting weekend

Last Stop: On to the Gala

While we had a grand time at the AFFA annual gala, I will not bore you with the details of the event other than the wine. I decided to drink white wine tonight.  Why? White wines have a lower alcohol level, and I figured it would be a mass market chardonnay which will not leave me with a headache as a similar red wine would. They were passing out white wine as we entered. It appeared to be a Chardonnay, based solely on the color.  I figured, If it did not pass the test, I could always head to the bar to see what my other options were.

The wine was Clos du Bois California Chardonnay. It is classified as a super-premium value ($7-$15) wine. It is mass produced and widely available and has a profile that fits the “average” white wine drinker year after year.  Will I stock this wine at home? No. But it is a safe bet and a decent choice given that many bar services chose economy wines in the $3-$6 range.

Well, that is all for now.




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