Wine On The Go, Spectacular Pairing, and Some Life Ramblings
Life is an interesting thing (wow, what a deep opening thought, huh?). I was supposed to depart at 6 am on a direct flight from New York to Miami to attend the conference. Thanks to much-hyphed-but-never-really-happened blizzard, my flight was cancelled and I was automatically re-booked, now on the flight with the stop, connecting through Charlotte. Charlotte. You know, there are some strong emotional words which I’m striving to avoid, whether conversing or writing. One of such words is “hate” – and I will explain the connection in a second.
I travel a lot, and I have interesting memories of the different airports and trips, some better and some worse. But – if there is an airport which I “hate”, that would be the Charlotte. Reason is simple – lots of memories of severely delayed flights, cancelled flights, indifferent customer service and even sleeping on the floor as no other options were available. Yes, I know – it is actually stupid to “hate” airport – but I wanted to explain my feelings when I saw that I’m connecting through the Charlotte.
Okay, so I have no choice (called my travel agent multiple times – no way no how, either I take the flight as it is, or just cancel the trip). Short uneventful ride to the La Guardia airport, and I’m at the terminal C. It is probably been a few years since I used that terminal, so once I get through security and walking to the gate, and I’m literally saying “wow”. The terminal looks very modern, screens and everything. I stumble upon a cafe which has lots of seats, with an iPad standing in front of every seat. iPad can be used for ordering, or just some limited internet browsing. Cafe features very attractive looking menu with lots of food options, mostly written in French, the language of “love of sophisticated food”. And the wine list looks quite reasonable, both in terms of international selection and price. Yes, definitely not something I was expecting to find.
Anyway, it was kind of early for wine and I was not hungry, so this was mostly a “note to self” for next time I might be using the same airport. To my surprise, the flight departed on time (almost a miracle for the La Guardia airport), and arrived to Charlotte ahead of scheduled time.
Many times in the past while flying through the Charlotte I stumbled upon a little wine shop, more of a tasting room for the Yadkin Valley wines. My schedule never allowed me to actually visit it. Then I remember been at the Charlotte airport at the reasonable time, only to find that the store was gone. This time as I knew that I will be connecting through the Charlotte, I decided just in case to check if there are any of my favorite Vino Volo restaurants at Charlotte. No, there were none, but I found a wine bar called Beaudevin, with a number of raving reviews, including the mention in the very reputable Fodor’s travel guide as one of the 8 top wine destinations in the airports in US. So the early arrival gave me enough time to stop by Beaudevin, which is conveniently located right in the middle of the terminal, in the section called Atrium.
It appears that Beaudevin uses similar model to the Vino Volo, offering wines both by the glass and as part of the tasting flights. To my delight, one of the featured flights consisted of North Carolina wines, and of course this is what I went for.
Somehow it was stuck in my head that I recently read some rather negative reviews of North Carolina wines, so I approached these wines with a bit of trepidation. But – call it luck, fruit day or anything else, but I was rather blessed with a wonderful treat.
The flight contained 3 wines, 2 whites and 1 red – Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon. I started with Sauvignon Blanc, and it was delicious, Viognier – delicious again, and then Cabernet Sauvignon – spot on! Here are the notes:
2011 Childress Sauvignon Blanc North Carolina (12.9% ABV) – Nose of white fruit, intense, with touch of herbs, hint of fresh cut grass. On the palate, nice acidity, dry, tart, lemon notes, good minerality, medium to full body. This is an excellent summer wine – every sip makes you think of summer. Drinkability: 8-
2011 Childress Viognier North Carolina (13.9% ABV) – sweet candy on the nose, very intense, with the characteristic Viognier “perfume” showing in a distance. Compare to the nose, the wine is surprisingly restrained on the palate – hint of candied sweetness, white stone fruit, lychees. Excellent balance. Drinkability: 7+/8-
2012 Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon North Carolina (13.6% ABV) – a welcoming nose of warm climate Cabernet Sauvignon, with sweet oak, vainilla, ripe blackberries. Very elegant on the palate, cassis, warm notes of red fruit, medium to full body, touch of green bell peppers, luscious with soft tannins. Excellent balance. Drinkability: 8-
And now, let’s talk about the spectacular pairing. Beaudevin offers essentially a full restaurant menu – if you have a long connection, you can spend quite an enjoyable time there. As my time was limited, I decided on a Charcuterie salad (lettuce, prosciutto, dried cranberries, green beans, dried cheese), with addition of smoked salmon.
When it comes to the salad in general, I never even attempt to pair it with the wine – I believe generally it is not an easy undertaking. In my case here, I finished my “tasting” and “note taking” session, and I had the wine left, so I really had nothing to lose. I started from Viognier, and “wow” – the wine greatly complemented sweet profile of the dried cranberries and dressing, so together it was almost a revelation. Next bite and sip, this time of Sauvignon Blanc – and yet another revelation – this time with the clean acidity cutting through the sweetness, contrasting and enhancing flavor. Last but not least, Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly complemented saltiness of prosciutto and even smoked salmon – totally unexpected, but considering the soft and delicate profile of the wine, it was again a home run. Three wines out of three, working perfectly with one dish (salad!) – this was definitely not something I was expecting, but I’m glad I was able to experience it.
Life is an interesting thing. Cancelled flight led to the very pleasant and educational experience – life can take one thing away from us, and give us something else instead – for sure my case with this trip. Also, it is very interesting to see how the wine culture is changing in the US. From unfathomable plonk only 3–4 years ago (I would never think of ordering wine at the airport 4 years ago – beer would be my only choice), to the upscale wines and wine flights – we are definitely looking at the cultural shift, and I don’t know about you, but I’m very happy to see this happening. Heck, I might even start looking forward to my next trip through the Charlotte airport. Cheers!