Friday, May 8, 2015

Get That Peaceful Easy Feeling--Wednesday Wine Stroll At Middleton Place

With the Ashley River lazily meandering in the distance, a peaceful easy feeling came over me as I sat on a wooden bench leisurely sipping on a plastic cup of red wine. I was in the company of one of the oldest oak trees in the Charleston Lowcountry. Greyed from age and bearing the scars of a sometimes tumultuous past, the Great Oak's long, broad branches majestically overshadowed the calming waters of the Rice Fields where fish launched themselves into the air like mortar shells and alligators prowled the surface like the H. L. Hunley in search of an unwary prey.

Clinging to the tree's weather-beaten bark, a cardinal curiously watched my every move. We weren't alone. With the Octagonal Garden to the right and the Sundial Garden behind, the soft, intimate chatter and light laughter of fellow strollers navigating the garden's preened pathways filled the warm evening air. The occasion was Wednesday Wine Stroll at Middleton Place.

The Wednesday Wine Strolls were started as a way for visitors to experience the beauty of Middleton Place in the early evening light and a more relaxed atmosphere--no tour guides needed. It is just you, the gardens, and a world renowned vino. The Wine Strolls are an invitation to drink in the incomparable natural beauty of the plantations 274 year old gardens--the oldest landscaped gardens in America. Each week, samples of specially selected wines from around the world are uncorked by the Middleton Place Restaurant for you to savor. A different wine region and beautiful garden location in bloom is chosen for the stroll.

This week's selected location was the southern magnolia-lined walkway along the spring-fed Reflection Pond. The four white-cloth covered tables were evenly spread out under the tall trees the full distance of the pond and strategically located at pathway entrances for easy access into the sprawling gardens. On each table were two bottles of wine--one red and one white. Each setting was accompanied by a basket of crackers for cleansing the palette between tastings.

The wine region selected was South America. At Table One, Tomero Torrontes 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina was the white offering and Malma Malbec 2012 from Patagonia, Argentina was the red. At Table Two, the white offering was Cautivo Chardonnay 2014 from Mendoza and the red was Errazuric Max Reserva Carmenere from the Villa de Aconcagua, Chile 2011. Moving to Table Three, Arido Moscato 2013 from Mendoza was the white and Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Clasico 2013 from Mendoza was the red. Table Four topped off the selections with a Sangria Blanco and a Sangria Roja.

The correct pronunciations I leave to you to figure out--some Spanish required. The Cautivo Chardonnay was my white wine favorite and the Bonarda Clasico was the red I sipped under the Great Oak. After a few glasses of the South American vino and a dash of imagination, I found myself rubbing shoulders and clinking glasses with Henry and Mary as a guest of their garden party. Blame my whimsical tryst to the past on the wine.

If you want to get that peaceful easy feeling, Middleton's Wednesday Wine Stroll is where you want to be. It is a perfect blend of fine wine and floral gardens accented with the aroma of magnolias and oaks interlaced with a tremendous concentration of gentle sunlight. With a long finish, this event is elegant and well-balanced...Enjoy the pictures.

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