As luck would have it, our desire to break out of our wine rut coincided with the opening of an incredible new wine shop in downtown Charleston. Located right next door to our favorite new café, The Harbinger, in North Central, Monarch Wine Merchants unlocked its doors in early June. On its opening day, we waited a perfectly respectable 90 minutes before barging in, three-year-old in tow, excited to get a sense of the store and its offerings. We were thrilled to find a small but very well-cultivated collection of Old World wine, with a healthy mix of New World bottles. The shop stocks a selection of everything from Airen (a Spanish white wine grape) to Zweigelt, and each of our visits has resulted in the purchase of multiple bottles of fascinating, new-to-us wines.
We’re still working our way through our purchases, but several bottles we’ve opened have been stellar:
AJ Adam Hofberg Riesling (2011)
We’ve had a lot of less-than-stellar Riesling, so we asked Monarch’s owner, Justin Coleman, for a bottle that would change our minds about the grape. He recommended this bottle from Germany’s Mosel Valley. Mission accomplished – with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, this wine has us eager to seek out more quality Riesling.
Le Sot de l’Ange Rouge G
This is a sulfur dioxide-free blend of Gamay and Grolleau from the Loire Valley. “Funnest” isn’t a word, but it should be so that we could say that this may be the funnest bottle of wine we’ve ever had. Bring it to a party or let it bring the party to you.
Partida Creus GT
Another natural wine, this time a Garrut from Spain. Unfined, unfiltered and sulfur dioxide-free, this funky wine is delicious in ways that defy description. We talked about it for hours and still couldn’t pin it down. Clearly we need buy another to continue our “research.”
Monarch also has a large selection of rosé on a table that dominates the main space of the shop; we haven’t delved into it yet but it’s only a matter of time (and increasing mercury). Given someone’s penchant for large format bottles (ahem, Tyler), one of Monarch’s double-magnums (3L) of rosé will probably be coming home with us soon.
Monarch’s wines are mostly in the $25+ range, but they also have a wall of wines all priced under the very budget-friendly price of $18. If we found ourselves in need for a bottle for dinner and didn’t want to spend a ton, this is absolutely where we would go. Monarch is here to save all of us from buying wine at the grocery store.
Basically, Monarch has something for everybody. If you love wine, you should shop at Monarch. If you know nothing about wine, you should shop at Monarch. If you know everything about wine, you should shop at Monarch.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to open a bottle (or three). Cheers!
Monarch Wine Merchants website
1107 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm