Most good tales are about a girl. This one begins no differently.
Exactly 200 years ago, in 1822, a young man who had spent a long tour out at sea finally returned to the mainland and planned on traveling north to visit his Love and ask for her hand in marriage. Mounting his horse, he began his journey from Charleston to seek her out. Along his way, however, the skies blackened and the clouds turned to steel. A storm was brewing, dark and ominous, and an angry sea swirled. To outrun the gale, the young man chanced a shortcut through the marsh just outside of Pawleys Island. After such a long stretch on the water, all the young man wanted was to see his lady and spend the rest of his days with her. Fate, however, had different plans. If the young man had stayed on the road and braved the storm rather than risking a quicker path through the marsh, perhaps he would have lived or perhaps he would not have; history will never know. What did happen was that the young man did perish. His horse got stuck in the pluff mud and the man was thrown to the cruel, thick mud which entrapped him and pulled him beneath the surface.
Upon hearing the news of her lover's demise, the girl was clearly devastated. To find solace, she began taking long walks on the beach to clear her thoughts. Some time later, on one her strolls, she saw the silhouette of a man in the distance. He was gray and blurred, but as she grew closer she recognized the face of her lover. Though she knew it impossible, for he was dead, the man who loved her stood there before her in a spot along her usual path. She had so many questions, but the familiar young man had no answers. The only words he was allowed to speak were a warning of a coming storm. After that he vanished. Legend has it that the girl and her family heeded the warning of the gray figure and they headed inland. Soon after, a hurricane slammed into the Lowcountry, leaving devastation in its wake. Amidst the lashing of the storm, one home was spared from destruction: hers.
Thus began the Legend of the Gray Man of Pawleys Island.
Local lore now has it that a gray-cloaked roams the beach at Pawleys Island ahead of major storms that threaten the area. In 1954, before Hurricane Hazel made landfall, there were claims of a gray ghost on the beach. And then again in 1989, before Hugo, ripped through the South Carolina coast, there was another eerie sighting of a figure on the beach clad in gray. And most recently, there were reports of similar sightings prior to Hurricane Florence in 2018.
The ghost seems to be a benevolent force rather than a frightening one, and only appears to give warning and hope that those whom he advises heeds his message: A storm is coming and get to safety. Or else perish as he once did.
While yes, we often do have mandatory evacuations here in the Lowcountry when a massive hurricane is coming, there are always those who decide to cast their lot against Chance and stay home. But whether you're the type to stay or the type to leave, the one thing everyone has in common is that Hurricane Parties are Awesome!
Though we're already two months into Hurricane Season, and hopefully we won't see any kind of storm destruction this year, being prepared for a Hurricane Party can't hurt. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water, nonperishable food, candles, flashlights, batteries, and a generator. Now that the luxuries are accounted for, now on to the necessities. Be sure to have a wine opener, glasses, and plenty of wine to survive a mammoth tempest. But as far as wine goes, there are a few things to keep in mind. The possibility of losing power is more than likely, and what wine you have you want to enjoy obviously, but god forbid you lose it, you'll want something you won't be devastated about spoiling, just in case. Also, you'll probably have friends over, it's a party after all. And since you'll have no power and you can't really go out, the only thing you'll really have to do is drink. So you'll also want something that'll be a crowd-pleaser but also something you can stockpile so that there's more than enough to go around. Something quaffable. Something affordable.
We've got just the thing.
In honor of the young man who lost his life seeking his Love and now spends eternity drifting along the beach as a gray-clad spirit who heralds the dangers of coming storms, we will be tasting this week through a few iterations of Pinot Grigio, a ghostly grayish-purple grape varietal that mutated from Pinot Noir somewhere along the way.
Pinot Grigio is a perfect wine for Hurricane Parties; it checks all the boxes on the list. The grape it comes from may be the color of the storm clouds outside, but the wine itself is fresh and vibrant. It's a quaffable crowd-pleaser. It's inexpensive. And if the temperature rose too high due to lack of AC because of a power outage and the wine happened to spoil, it would be a significantly easier loss to bear than something special out of your cellar.
From three unique areas of Italy, we'll be showcasing the beauty of Pinot Grigio. One from Molise, located in central Italy along the eastern coastline to the north of Abruzzo. The second is from the base of the foothills of the Dolomites in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy. And third, we're going to Lazio, right outside of the city of Rome with Fontana Candida's Frascati. Ok so Frascati isn't Pinot Grigio, but it's ridiculously similar. Flavor profile, brightness, acidity, texture and price point. It's even thought to be in the Pinot Grigio family. But before we get into all that, you know how we do: We're going to start off with bubbles. But not just any bubbles. We'll be enjoying Franciacorta from Ca' del Bosco! We all know that Prosecco is Italy's primary sparkling wine, but Franciacorta is something special. Made in the true, traditional method of Champagne (unlike Prosecco; leave it to the Italians to do their own thing!), Franciacorta is Italy's High End sparkling wine, akin to Champagne. In addition, arguably the best producer of Franciacorta is Ca' del Bosco. They're so good at it that, while they are not the only House to produce Franciacorta, their name is synonymous with it!
Not part of the Tasting, but something we've started is we've partnered with Vintage Wine Estates and are a part of their Angels Share Program. We've brought back in Swanson Merlot from Napa and Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir from Arroyo Grande Valley. Every bottle of either of these that sell between now and Halloween, Vintage Wine Estates will donate 30 meals per bottle to the Lowcountry Food Bank! We say Drinking for a Cause and they say Food is Love. Pour it On!
The Wine Shop Team