We were still aimlessly wandering in downtown Birmingham, albeit shopping in the summer sun. While Noel Coward may not have coined the expression, it still rings true when one is shopping in a downtown setting “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” You stop at a couple of stores, and then you have to walk over to the parking garage to drop off your shopping bags, so that you can continue on. There is just something more traditional and comforting shopping at small independent retail establishments, instead of giant behemoth shopping malls with more loiterers than shoppers.
We walked over to the Townsend Hotel, where we have even stayed because of board meetings in the past, and went to the Rugby Grille. You can tell that the Townsend is a traditional location with a bar by that name, and it fits in perfectly in the city of Birmingham. I am a creature of comfort, so I prefer to go and drink at the bar, rather than sit outside at a table especially on a hot afternoon and breath in exhaust fumes from cars driving by or idling. Plus, it is the type of establishment that has bartenders of the Old School that can regale you with tales of days of yore, of past exploits of watering holes across the country, some that are still around and others that are now part of history. I guess I just like colorful tales of three martini lunches, and dinner parties where the host and his guests eventually have to be dragged out, because the bar was either closing or had closed. Those were wonderful days and as the legendary Bernard “Toots” Shor said when the blackouts of WWII affected the night life of Manhattan “any guy that can’t get drunk by midnight, aint trying.”
As we were cooling off at the bar, and I even think that my Bride enjoys sitting at some bars, we had to get something to cool off with. My Bride had a glass of Domaine des Cassagnoles Blanc Cotes de Gascogne IGP 2019. If she hadn’t chose it, I would, because of the famous Gascon in literature D’Artagnan. Gilles Baumann and Janine Cardeillac Baumann moved into the family farm called Cassagnoles in Gascony back in 1974. Originally the farm produced grapes for the production of Armagnac. In 1978, they created their first bottle of wine commercially. In 1980 they created the first bottle of Le Domaine des Cassagnoles which was pure Colombard. In 2010, the parents retired and their daughter took over, and she began instituting best agriculture practices as well as introducing more varietals. The sixty-hectare estate continues to win more and more accreditations in the wine industry for good husbandry. Cotes de Gascogne IGP wines are basically white and made from the local varieties of Courbu, Gros Manseng, Colombard and Arrufiac and there is about ten percent red wine production. Originally it was a Vin de Pays rating or Table Wine, and about sixty percent of the wine is exported. Colombard is one of the two main wines used to make Armagnac, which is also part of the Cotes de Gascogne IGP, and the characteristics of this grape is high acidity, low alcohol and a rather neutral flavor. This wine was just bright and crisp, not a lot of character, with a flinty terroir finish, but a winner on a hot day.
I went out of character a bit and tried a glass of Weingut St. Urbans-Hoff Riesling Estate Bottled from Old Vines Mosel 2019. Weingut St Urbans-Hof is a family-owned estate founded in 1947 and they are now in their third generation. The winery was founded by Nicolaus Weis and since 1997 it is managed by Nik Weis. They became part of the VDP in 2000. Some of their vineyards have ungrafted vines that are over one-hundred years of age. They use white labels for their dry wines and black labels for their sweet wines. This wine is made from vines that are forty to sixty years of age, and they use indigenous yeasts to make this wine in Stainless Steel. Even though it is on a black label, the wine was very crisp with floral notes, offering the taste of stone fruits and a nice mineral terroir finish, with just a reminder of sweetness to me. If we were ordering food, this would have been terrific with pork. Then we went back out for more walking and some more shopping. We like to get about five miles a day in walking and we accomplished that goal.