Have you ever entered a store and felt like a child at a grown-ups party? It is like that awkward feeling teenagers have as parents look on while you ready yourself for prom. I remember entering Bond Street Wines and immediately sensing that I was in the wrong place. This perception was not driven by its staff (they were rather welcoming) nor its sparse decor (loved its cellar-like feel). On the contrary, I felt out of my element because the few bottles I picked up were either out of my price range or so foreign that I didn’t dare try my luck in purchasing them.
This first impression prevented me from entering the Charlotte-based wine store again for nearly five years. All that changed when I met Mr. Andrew Lunquist, the young and brilliant Sales Executive of Proof Wine & Spirits. I admit, at first, I was a bit smitten by this 26 year-old, who looks like he belongs more in a Beastie Boys video than in a wine shop (gotta love a guy that can rock a color-block Polo, thick silver chain and sneakers!). But, once he started describing the producers, vintners, and value of the wines that Bond Street features, I knew that he would be the man to dis-spell my prohibitions.
His mission was to expose me to new varietals (e.g. my tasting would exclude Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs!) at a price point under $30.00 (e.g. to compete with my “top shelf” wine selections!). He succeeded by introducing me to three amazing bottles of wine that are perfect for summer sipping….and at these prices, acceptable for over-indulging! Woo-hoo!
First, we sipped Domaine Duffour 2015 Cotes De Gasconge, a light and lively summer white that literally makes you salivate for more! It is a kin to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (think Kim Crawford) and has an acidity that doesn’t just fall off the palette. Wanting more, it simply made me want to entertain! And, at $10.99 a bottle, I could finally fulfill my vision of executing a killer alfresco supper. Just picture cases of chilled Domain Duffour, served alongside skewers of garlic and herb spot prawns splayed upon platters upon platters of raw vegetables, all dressed in a tangy lemon-caper sauce. Yum…lets drink and eat!
Next, he suggested we drink Rose. Seriously, I almost had to stop him there as I freeze-framed back to my junior year of high school, where Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill was my drink of choice! He convinced me that Rose was neither that of my adolescent youth nor was it the White Zinfandel that Sutter Homes continues to bankroll through gas stations nationwide. Rather, Rose can be a crazy, bright acidic wine like the California Jolie Laide 2016 Validiguie Rose. At first taste, I was a convert and pictured myself poolside in Palm Springs circa 1950 with Lauren Bacall, laughing giddily awaiting a luxurious lunch. With glamour at my side, I would attempt being exotic and perfectly pair this Rose with spicy Thai dishes like Pad Thai and Pad Kr Pao (it may be take-out, but damn if it wouldn’t be fabulous!)
Side note I can’t exclude: this Rose is cooler than it makes you feel…the producer Scott Schultz hires insanely creative artists each year to produce the label series (look closely…that is artist Brian Gaberman’s signature on the bottle…art, wine, skateboards! yes!).
For our final taste, Andrew not only introduced me to a spectacular red wine, but he also educated me on how to enjoy reds at the height of summer’s swelter. I hate to admit that I am not a seasonal wine drinker. I typically find my favorite bottle and drink it regardless of the temperature outside. But, Andrew explained a red wine like Folk Machine Parts & Labor 2016 Red Wine can taste even better slightly chilled, especially in the summer. Consider throwing this “bistro-style” wine in your refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes (or lets be honest…your cooler!) and enjoy its unconventional elements with a rack of charred ribs or a juicy burger. Its elements, aka the grapes, cover all the basis with the Carignan providing depth and color; the Syrah giving you a smoky finish; the Grenache smoothing any harsh undertones, and the Barbera acting as the balancing agent to bring all together. Bottom-line, think of this as the happy median for any party guest and at $19.99, I fear my go-to Meomi Pinot Noir just got replaced!
With all I’ve learned, I encourage you to seek out your local wine store and embrace what they can offer. And, if you hit Bond Street Wines Charlotte, I guarantee you they will have a taste ready and a story behind every bottle. Xoxo and here’s to happy summer sipping! E.