Pairing Our Town with a Suitable Wine
Originally published in The Heart of Hillsborough, February 2018
While on a visit to Purple Crow Books recently, I picked up 27 Views of Hillsborough, a wonderful literary collection that professes love and respect for everything our town offers. Indeed, the afternoon I spent reading made me fall in love even more, leading me to wonder: can a wine be paired with a geographic location, in this case, Hillsborough, to further reflect a sense of place? Obviously, our town is deserving of more than just one pairing given our vibrancy, but I thought I would start the conversation by providing my selection!
In considering what wine to pair with Hillsborough, I thought about what is personally endearing about it. There are a great many things that make it the place that it is – and all of them are worthy of consideration. But if I were to describe it as I do a wine, this would be it: Hillsborough is independent, self-reliant, and welcoming. Full of character, it embraces change, but remains proud and aware of how centuries of history have defined what it is today. It is passionate, complex, and certainly not easily forgettable. After reflecting on those words, the wine that immediately came to mind was champagne.
The Champagne wine region, located in northeast France, needs little introduction. Steeped in tradition, the picturesque rolling countryside of vineyards and tiny villages brings to mind the romance of the famous wines it so eloquently crafts. Much like Hillsborough, the people are eclectic and warm, their region also having seen war, revolution, and change. What remains consistent is the “bubbly” wines for which it is known are the best in the world!
Amongst the estates, one stands out as my candidate for pairing. Since 1885, Estate Grongnet has produced exquisite champagne, meticulously keeping alive five generations of tradition, including aging the wine in foudre, large oak barrels that other producers have opted to abandon in favor of stainless steel tanks. Cecile Grongnet whose great-great grandfather founded the business in the small village of Etoges, currently heads the operation and is known to do almost everything by herself!
The estate’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (priced at $39.00 and available at Weaver Street Market) is 100% chardonnay. Often, when I pour a bottle of champagne, I fully expect its effervescence to limit my ability to see the color clearly. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised that the “bubbles” were subdued enough to view the wine’s elegant light gold hue. From the glass arose a nutty, citrus aroma with hints of almond and Meyer lemon, inviting and delicate. Tasting, the “bubbles” did not distract, rather a bite of lemon and apricot mingled on my palate before giving way to honeysuckle and pear. The finish was crisp and as the flavors faded, all remained balanced. The care that went into crafting it was evident, making it a perfect pairing for the town I call home!
What wine would you pair with our town?