These wines never get old. By these, I mean natural, living, mineral driven whites from the Loire Valley. Where else in the world can you taste the true expression of nature for well under $22.00 from top notch, benchmark estates? Take Muscadet for example. The tip top wines from vignerons like Claude Branger, Marc Ollivier, SergeBatard, Guy Brossard, and Jo Landron retail for well under $20.00. That is an absolute steal in a world full of wines which are expensive and under deliver(not a good combo I might add…) and offer nothing but one dimensional vanilla fruit bombs. Any fool can soften a wine and add oak to be a crowd pleaser. But as you know, I believe wines which are made to be what they are, offer a more profound and meaningful wine drinking experience than wines made just to please–and nothing else. Listen, I am not complaining that I can build an illustrious cellar of Loire whites for the same price as a bottle of obnoxiously overpriced classified Bordeaux. I smell greed when I lower my nose to 9 out of 10 red Bordeaux. Most of those guys are about snuffing out terroir anyway. Please don’t ask me to explain that opinion, I can’t. I just feel it in my gut. My point is though, that you don’t need to spend over twenty five dollars to have a compelling, truthful, terroir driven wine experience.
Speaking of minerals and rock scents, I had a moment while sifting through a book last week. I am sure you have had similar experiences when you read a wonderful passage from an articulate, thoughtful author and say to yourself, ” Holy shit, I have been wanting to say just what he said, but couldn’t figure out a way to express the idea so clearly.” Well it happened to me again. So now it’s my turn to use the foundation he set and explain to you, in my own words, why my best wine drinking adventures have always been when I can smell minerals and taste rocks. Unfortunately, this will use up way–way too much space, emotion and time on this post. Look forward to that explanation later. Now, on to the Flinty Wine Adventure of last night…….All wines were paired with slices of saucisson I bought from Murry’s and six briny oysters. Delicious, real and simple. It’s the way I like things.
2007 Francis Blanchet Pouilly-Fume Cuvee Salice: Coming from a parcel of 20 year old vines planted on 100% silex or flint. Blanchet’s wines are so transparent and full of Mother Earth. Their link to Chablis through the soils is undeniable. Often, the beauty and truth of his wines gives me the chills. I like getting the chills when I drink wine. The nose on the ’07 is all minerals and high toned, bright green fruits. If you like, they were soaring like cathedral arches. So intense and focused the aromas were, that my eyes rolled to the back of my head!!! Not joking. The palate is marrowy yet trenchant and incredibly long. I love the texture of this wine. Oh, and don’t overlook the color in the glass, which we often do……It’s a delightful yellowish green which reminds me of springtime.
Claude Branger and his son Sebastien are doing some wonderful things in their little corner of the earth. Like many great artisan vignerons in Muscadet they are restricting yields, harvesting by hand, and using only native yeasts. Harvesting by hand is a bitch, I know, I did it for three weeks in a row last year in Minervois. My body is still aching almost a year later; I am truly humbled by the sacrifices the Branger family(and many others) make in the name of history,tradition, and terroir.
The U.S. importer of Domaine Claude Branger described their wines as refined; I couldn’t agree more.“Le fils des Gras Moutons“ is the base cuvee of the estate coming from various parcels throughout the appellation with vines averaging 35 years of age. The 2007 vintage landed recently, so I wasn’t surprised to find that on the first day this wine was terribly tight and muted. Day two it was better and then , then on day three it exploded like fireworks!!!! Gobs of minerals and earth on the nose hit the senses like a Mack Truck!!! You can feel the ocean speaking through the salty melon, sea waterish-like flavors on the palate. A wine like this can only be made by a vignreon who subordinated their own ego and allowed nature to sing its beautiful song. Thank you Claude and Sebastien for allowing us to touch the beauty of nature through your wine. Bravo Domaine ClaudeBranger. By the way, their luxury Muscadets are even more inspiring. More on that later.
Jaime Brockway Warning: Drinking Less Than One Bottle Of Loire Wine Per Week Is Detrimental To Your Health. Approved By The Surgeon General.