Shortly after the introductory session, Kim Sunee and the workshop attendees walked down Franklin Street to Bonne Soiree for a tasting of eclectic wines from local importer Centerba Selections. Damon Hanes, one of the Centerba founders, was on hand with captivating stories about obscure grapes and whimsical wineries. Bonne Soiree owners Tina Vaughn and chef Chip Smith complimented the wines with artisanal cheese from around the world as well as a local goat cheese souffle and an impeccable pork foie gras with pistachio and prunes.
The white flight began with a wonderfully dry Vouvray Petillant Non Dosé from the Francois Pinon in France’s Loire Valley. Its dryness is the result of the ‘non dosé’ method, in which producers refrain from introducing additional sugars during fermentation, and Damon believes this wine is a pure expression of Vouvray. From there we hopped across the border to the Spanish region of Ribera del Duero for Vina Sastre’s “Flavus,” only to return to the Loire with Le Brin de Chevre 2007 from Le Clos du Tue-Boeuf. Those familiar with the French word for goat cheese–chevre–will notice it in that wine’s name. Menu Pineau, the grape in this bottle is prevalent in the Loire Valley and gives the wine a light, bright and distinctively … goaty character.
Before moving on to the reds, Damon introduced us to a slightly effervescent, minerally Mosel Reisling from Peter Lauer. Trollies make the winery’s steep hillsides accessible and the concentration of slate and quartz in the soil make this Riesling particularly refreshing and complex when paired with buttered French blue cheese (yes, you read this correctly: bread, blue cheese, and butter).
Continuing down the list of rebel winemakers and offbeat grapes, Damon poured a Beaujolais from Fleurie whose owner was so frustrated by the French classification process that he replaced that information with a picture of his favorite horse. Its red berry notes (namely cranberry and raspberry) played beautifully with Chef Smith’s pork foie gras. Afterward, we moved to a deep purple Spanish Ribeira Sacra red called Pena do Lobo and then to Italy for an unclassified Tuscan Chiante Classico from Montesecondo.
The evening’s centerpiece, a 2005 Cabernet Franc from Clos Rougeard Saumur Champigny, again in the Loire Valley, was exquisite. Apparently the limestone on the vineyard is so moist, you can easily stick a coin in it (though once you do, it becomes the winemaker’s property). The silky, robust wine has distinct notes of coconut, leather (or tobacco, depending on who you ask) and bourbon. Spitting this wine was forbidden.
Before the final wine of the evening, a southern Spanish Sherry, Damon and Tina treated attendees to a taste of a Rioja Tempranillo, which tasted reminiscent of blueberries, spice and leather. Tina passed out warm toasted almonds to pair with the sherry, which because of its proximity to the Atlantic tasted distinctly salty and clean.
For more images of the wine tasting, please visit our Flickr page.