Now if you are of a certain age, or musical disposition, then the opportunity to hang out and listen to 80s pop music can be hard to ignore. Throw in the chance to taste some cutting edge Alsace wine at the same time, then what’s not to like. But that was what was on offer to the lucky guests to the recent 80s Brit Pop Alsace tasting with a personal selection of wines and songs chosen by Foulques Aulagnon, export manager at Alsace Wines
Now this could start a new trend for tastings matched to different eras of music. If so then it’s a great start with this selection of 80s classics all matched to Alsace wines. Thanks to the music collection and upbringing of Foulques Aulagnon, export manager at the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace.
Tell us about the recent ‘Foulques’ Favourites and 80s Brit Pop Alsace tasting’. What was the idea about it?
There was a double idea behind it. Food and wine pairing is a classic ways of assessing wines, but wine and music pairings bring another dimension. Whilst food and wines play on the olfactory, gustatory systems and the sensations taking place in our mouth, music adds an extra hearing dimension to the experience.
Generally, we like to talk about local food and how they work with our wines, but here the idea was to talk about “local music”. That’s why American (i.e Michael Jackson) and Australian music (i.e. INXS) etc were excluded. The goal was to touch the guests’ emotional side. That’s also why the 80’s were selected. The large majority of our guests were teenagers back then and a lot of these songs remind them of their youth.
How did you choose the wines to serve at the dinner?
I chose the wines first, and then the songs to go with them. I selected wines from producers that I know are at the top level and and are also imported in the UK. We are spoilt by having so many exceptional wines and producers in Alsace, so the problem wasn’t finding enough great wines, but having too many of them…
Our guests were invited to an evening of ‘Foulques’ Favourites’, and I’ve had many Brit Pop talks with most of them in recent years during their visits to Alsace, as I’m a huge fan of the Smiths. That’s why I chose songs from this period. If I chose another decade, it wouldn’t say anything about my life. To quote Morrissey: “Because the music that they constantly play / It says nothing to me about my life” (Panic, July 1986).
Some people don’t like tasting wine with music playing. What do you think of that?
Guests were invited and forewarned about the music element of the evening! But I did turn the sound down after the start of each song so it didn’t interfere with the conversation.
With your wine rather than musical hat on, how do you see the opportunity for Alsace wines in the UK premium on-trade?
Potential Brexit impact aside, we are optimistic about our place and our potential of improvement in the UK premium on-trade. We have a few aces up our sleeve. Our wines match with all types of food, and can also easily be drunk on their own. There aren’t many wine producing regions in the world that can say the same.
In term of taste, we are on trend: people are tired of heavily oaked wines, and fat and oily wines as you can only really drink one glass of them. Consumers (and the trade) are looking for wines that are easy to digest, pure and aromatic. And that is the definition of an Alsace wine.
Prices are also never high, not even for the top quality wines. This allows for a good sales margin, and consumers have the opportunity to drink something very good without bankrupting themselves!
Which Alsace wines styles do you think would work well in UK premium on-trade?
There are different styles of Alsace wines, but I think it’s their overall minerality that makes them so attractive for the premium on-trade.
Foulques Aulagnon’s Alsace 80’s Pop Songs and Wines
So here we go with the line up of 80’s songs enjoyed at the tasting and a personal reason from Foulques Aulagnon why he chose the song for that wine. Oh, and if you have the time some classic videos to enjoy as well. Enjoying rythm & “tainted” for white wines mostly presented.
Welcome track: Soft Cell: Tainted Love (1981) To get people in to the mood and “tainted” for white wines mostly presented.
Wine: Vins Schoenheitz, “Millésimé” 2008 Cremant d’Alsace.
Song: Depeche Mode, Just Can’t Get Enough (1981) Melody from the keyboards and electronic drums for the bubbles and harmony on the keyboard for the complexity of this six years on the lees Crémant.
Wine: Josemeyer, Le Dragon 2014, Riesling
Song: The Silencers, Answer Me (1988) Delicacy of the song starts for the delicate and feminine wine and backing drums and dry guitar for the mineral Riesling.
Wine: Domaine Weinbach, Cuvée Ste Catherine L’Inédit 2015, Riesling, Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg
Song: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Secret (1985) Minor chord for a really “vieille France” family and elegant wine. Great harmony and a quiet song with lots of nostalgia. The song’s title “Secret” is all about discovering the wine.
Wine: Domaine Albert Boxler Riesling 2013, Alsace Grand Cru Sommerberg
Song: Fine Young Cannibals, Suspicious Minds (1985) Rhythm and speed arpeggio for the sharpness and the fine acidity from the granite Riesling and muted trumpet, violin and Jimmy Sommerville’s backing vocal for the high length and the complexity of the wine.
Wine: F E Trimbach, Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2oo8 Riesling
Song: The Cure, Just Like Heaven (1987) Bass guitar and simple main keyboard for the large acidity and the half-mature Riesling from the limestone soil, backing keyboard for the large aromatic expression. This wine is “Just Like Heaven”.
Wine: Domaine Zind Humbrecht Lieu-dit “Clos Windsbuhl” 2015 Pinot Gris
Song: Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980) Autumn wine with autumn music, sad tone, seriousness and warm voice for the structured and salty Pinot Gris. Time lag drums and others instruments for the dryness.
Wine: Domaine du Clos Saint Landelin – Véronique & Thomas Muré “V” 2015 Pinot Noir
Song: The The, This is the Day (1983) Accordion for the fatness of the wine (hot vintage, limestone soil), sad tone and warm voice for the density of this Pinot Noir, rhythm for the expression of the fruit.
Wine: Domaine Schlumberger ind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2014 Alsace Grand Cru Kessler
Song: Housemartins, Caravan of Love (1986) This vineyard exploited by the Murbach Abbay mongrels inspired some chorus song closed to canon, the ampleness of this Gewurztraminer need a richness of the voices and gives echo to the word “Love”.
Wine: Domaine Weinbach Zind Humbrecht Lieu-dit “Altenbourg” 2013 Gewurztraminer
Song: The Stranglers, Golden Brown (1981) Waltz in three-quarter time has something of the past time which matches with this wine. Keyboard reminds me of a street organ which correspond to the single-vineyard “Altenbourg” [“the Old gentlemen’s vineyard”]. Low melody matches for the fatness of the wine. “Golden brown” is a wink to the colour of wine.
Wine: Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer 2010, Alsace Grand Cru Sonnenglanz
Song: Madness, Our House (1982) Rich and opulent music for the very expressive and large Gewurztraminer. Saxophone and backing violins (made by keyboards) are matching with this marl-limestone wine. Trumpets are dryer than saxophones, which works with the late ripening and tenseness of the vintage 2010.
Wine: Vins Shoenheitz Lieu-dit “Herrenreben” 2005 Riesling Selection de Grains Nobles
Altenbourg” 2013 Gewurztraminer
Song: The Smiths, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (1986) Fine and precise dry lead guitar responds well to the graniteRiesling, very fine and length on the wine works with the high positioned and harmonic voice, through to the precious and exquisite aromas and mouth feel and the richness of sugar.
And then on departure the guests were played out to The Pet Shop Boy and Always on My Mind (2007).