Lots and lots going on…
On Friday the 22nd, I had the distinct pleasure of winning a ticket to attend the inaugural BurdiGala event at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City. The contest was through the Guild of Sommeliers asking for an essay explaining what advice you would offer to a prestigious château seeking to make their wines successful in a sommelier-run wine program in the United States – they apparently liked what I had to say.
The name BurdiGala was the name given to the city of Bordeaux by the Romans, who brought the culture of wine to the region. “In recognition of the Bordeaux region as a whole, to celebrate the incomparable terrior, legendary wines and the new generation of Bordeaux’s most passionate enthusiasts.”
The event began with a three hour tasting:
Château Cos d’Estournel – 2010, 2008, 2006
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou – 2010, 2003, 2000
Clos Fourtet – 2010, 2008, 2005
Château Gruaud-Larose – 2010, 2007, 2004
Château Haut-Bailly – 2010, 2009, 2008
Château d’Issan – 2010, 2008, 2006
Château Lynch-Bages – 2010, 2008, 2006
Château Ormes de Pez – 2010, 2005, 2003
Château Palmer – 2010, 1998, 1990
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – 2010, 2009, 2008
Château Pontet-Canet – 2010, 2006, 2000
Château Smith Haut Lafitte – 2011, 2010, 2009
Château d’Yquem – 2009, 2007, 1996
Needless to say it was a daunting task but I made it through the wines. What a treat to have to opportunity to taste these gems, something I could never afford to do on my own. All of the wines were quite lovely, distinct and displayed unique characteristics of their vintage; but a few stood above the rest: 2011 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, 2010 Château Pontet-Canet, 1990 Château Palmer and 1996 Château d’Yquem. It goes without saying that the 2010 vintage presents some awe-inspiring wines.
The Gala, which began at the close of the tasting, was a black-tie dinner featuring the food of chef Alain Ducasse and Benoit Bistro. The inside of St. Bartholomew’s had been transformed into an elegant dining room. Cocktail hour commenced with Billecart Salmon Cuvée Brut Reserve in magnum served with cod brandade, smoked salmon with caviar d’aquitaine, foie gras on brioche, vegetable spring rolls with avocado and a fantastic mushroom vol-au-vent. The dinner wines were all served from magnum as well: Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2010 blanc, Château Cos d’Estournel 2005, Château Ducru Beaucaillou 1999, Clos Fourtet 1995, Château Gruaud Larose 2000, Château Haut Bailly 1998, Château Lynch-Bages 2003, Château Les Ormes de Pez 2005, Château Palmer 2004, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1996, Château Pontet-Canet 2003, Château d’Yquem 1995, Tesseron Cognac Lot 53 XO Perfection. At long last, the meal: gougers; salade gourmande of foie gras shavings and Magret de Canard, haricots-vert, mushrooms and red endive; braised short ribs with pomme fondant, carrot and root vegetable with Bordelaise sauce; Cheese course: Tamie de Savoie, Xavier David Camembert, Tête de Moine, Marcel Petite 2 year Comté; and Vacherin for dessert. The evening was absolutely beyond expectation, not one I’ll soon forget.
Other events on the horizon:
On March 6th we will have Michelle Duckett from Elyse Winery at Weathervane for a wine tasting and small plates. Michelle, National Sales Manager for Elyse Winery, will be on-hand to discuss the wines made by winemaker Ray Corison, and also to share her knowledge and experience. Paired with each wine with be a small plate, featuring a sneak peak of the new Weathervane menu. It’s the perfect way to try out some new wines and sample the new menu items. The evening with begin at 6:30 and will be $35.00 per person, inclusive. You can purchase your tickets at the Weathervane bar or host stand.
On March 20th, I will be teaching the “Science of Food and Wine” course at CLASS. It shall be an innovative look at pairing food and wine together, ‘from the inside out,’ using simplified food science. In this workshop, you will learn the elements of food and wine that meld and blend or juxtapose and contrast. It will really change how you think about pairing—an eye-opening load of fun! There are still seats open, $35.00 per person at 6PM
Featured Wine: Come and check out our Spring Cleaning specials. We are making room for our new spring selections, so come in and see the deals.
Fullsteam Brewing – Durham, NC
Carver Sweet Potato Lager
Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
A true Durham classic, the Carver Sweet Potato Lager uses 250 pounds of local sweet potatoes per batch. Light, smooth and clean, it’s the perfect thirst quencher for a balmy spring afternoon.
On tap – $6.00 pint; Growlers – $12.99
Thornbridge Brewery – Bakewell, UK
Kipling South Pacific Style Pale Ale
Style: English Pale Ale
A British bitter brewed exclusively with New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hops. Golden blonde, with passion fruit and mango on the nose. A sweet, round palate with a bitter, grapefruit-y finish.
Brasserie Unibroue – Chambly QUÉ
Blanche de Chambly
North America’s first re-fermented (bottle-conditioned) white beer brewed in the Belgian tradition, Quebec’s Blanche de Chambly is pale golden with fine bubbles and a white, creamy head. Spice, citrus and yeast dominate the nose, with coriander, cloves and orange following through to the palate. The finish is light, clean and refreshing.
Boulevard Brewing Company – Kansas City, MO
Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
A straw-colored, light Farmhouse ale from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing. With its earthy, spicy, grapefruit aroma and soft, sweet malts with prominent hop bitterness, the Tank 7 is deliciously drinkable.
A customer recently asked me about the origin of the term “Wee Heavy”. He had seen it on the Duck Rabbit seasonal bottle, he explained, but wasn’t aware that it was anything other than a fanciful term until he noticed it on another bottle from a different brewery. The style has become a favorite with North Carolina brewers lately, and it goes well with the late-winter doldrums we’re experiencing, so let’s lift a glass and explore the Wee Heavy and its Scottish Ale brethren.
Scottish ales can be divided into four categories: light, heavy, export and strong, or “Scotch” ales, the last of which includes the Wee Heavy subset. The styles are also occasionally referred to by the 19th century price-per-barrel (calculated in shillings, of course): 60/-, 70/-, 80/- and 100/- (160/- for the Wee Heavy). Brewers typically use pale malt, wheat malt and, occasionally, sugar. Hop varietals are almost exclusively English or Continental (anything with low alpha acid), and used only to bring the sweetness into balance. This results in a beer family that is amber to light brown in color, malt-forward, full-bodied and extremely low in bitterness.
So how exactly does the Wee Heavy fit into all this? Higher in alcohol than the others, the Wee Heavy is deep copper to brown, with a caramel and roasted malt flavor profile. A higher level of un-fermentable sugars gives the style a characteristic sweetness, but you won’t find much of the smokiness associated with the light, heavy and export Scottish ales. The standard food pairing for the Scotch Ale is, surprise surprise, Scottish food: roasted lamb, beer, game or smoked salmon (haggis optional), though I’ve found the reliable sweetness an interesting foil for spicier food (burritos or Indian chaat).
The North Carolina market has a wide selection of Scottish ales available to try, from Scotland’s Orkney Skullsplitter (with a glaring Viking on the label), to Asheville’s own French Broad Wee-Heavy-er. And of course, Southern Season’s Wine Bar currently has Mystery Brewing’s “Jings me Criven” on tap- a roasty take on the Wee Heavy style, named for a Scottish expletive and aged in Raffaldini wine barrels. So stop by and give it a try- your inner Scotsman will thank you! As for your outer Scot, well, we all know you can’t be responsible for what your outer Scot does after a few strong ales. Slàinte mhath!
This Friday we will be featuring the wines of Southern France hosted by Will Gordon of Freedom Beverage. We will be sampling 6 wines from the south of France along with select cheeses presented by our Cheesemongers and a few other nibbles. We are returning upstairs to the Cooking School, from 5PM to 8PM, at $15.00 per person. Get your Uncorked ticket price back with a purchase of $25 (one ticket for each $25 or greater purchase) in the store that evening.
March 8th, we will have Laurence Vuelta, of Aveniu Brands, hosting the Spanish Wine Experience. Laurence will be on-hand to walk you through his varied portfolio of Spanish gems along with a selection of cheese and other nibbles to share. Upstairs at the Cooking School, from 5PM to 8PM; $15 per person.
March 15th, join us as we walk host our own Easter dinner selection. We will have classic Easter fare with our staff favorites to go with your special Sunday meal. $15.00
March 22nd, We are thrilled to host Doug Cohen, National Sales Manager with Solena Wines of Oregon, on-hand to walk us through their spectacular wines. You won’t want to miss out on this tasting, Mr. Cohen will share his expertise, knowledge and experience in the world of Oregon wines. $15.00
Wine Bar: Starting in March and running through the end of the month we will be offering 50% off all wine bar selections from Monday through Wednesday. It’s a great way to try out our selection and see what we have to offer. Stop in anytime between 11AM and 8PM, Monday through Wednesday and enjoy the savings.
March 2013 Wine Case
Each month the Wine Department assembles 12 fantastic wines into a case of 12 bottles and offers them for sale at a discounted bulk price of $99.95. This is an opportunity to share some of our favorite flavors and classic varietals, and it’s one we take very seriously. Whether you’re looking for a prime example of your cherished Crianza, or looking to branch out and discover new tastes and textures, the Southern Season monthly wine case makes oenological exploration sublimely simple.
This month’s selections are:
Domaine de la Bouysse Blanc
Domaine la Croix Gratiot Picpoul de Pinet
Paire les Saignes
Bodegas Terra Sigilata Filon Garnacha
Château de Marjolet Côtes du Rhône
Dominio de Aranleon Crianza
Château Gasparets Corbières Rouge
For full descriptions and retail pricing information, click here: March 2013 Wine Case.