Last Saturday a good mate of mine from university popped in town for a brief stay; and shortly after his arrival, a bunch of east coast oysters were slurped chez moi alongside a chilled glass of the 2006 Domaine de l’Ecu Muscadet Sevre et Main Cuvee Classique(Kysela Pere et Fils $12-$15) . Winemaker Guy Bossard adopted organic farming in the early 1970’s and certified biodynamic in the 1980’s, way before it was marketable or cool –he is undeniably un homme de la terre. Guy produces several single soil wines like Expression de Gneiss or Orthogneiss which are dense and age worthy. From what I gather, the Classique comes from younger vines, various soil types, and numerous parcels. Nevertheless, this wine is truly an admirable expression of soil and place for under $15!!! In my opinion, the only other wine growing region in the world which can compete with the Loire Valley in the price : soil expression ratio is Germany. So how was the wine, you ask?? It smelled like rocks and tasted of springtime. Also, it’s a bit fussy upon opening, so I would recommend a strong decant before serving.
The 2007 Domaine de La Pepiere “La Pepie” Vdp Cabernet Franc(Louis/Dressner $15) is just so damn enjoyable and fun to drink. I am convinced winemaker Marc Ollivier can do no wrong. Don’t bother picking apart the pieces of this charmer or over analyzing, because that’s not what this wine is about. An act like that would be over exaggeration and taking away from the essence of its beauty. So here is how I recommend enjoying the “La Pepie“: Pop it in an ice bucket, call over a few close friends, bring out the saucisson, and enjoy a few cool bottles of a thirst quenching Cabernet Franc in all its simplistic beauty. Sometimes geeking out on wine and its hidden nuances is tiring. Just shut up and enjoy!!
JAIME BROCKWAY WARNING:DRINKING UNDER ONE BOTTLE OF FRENCH WINE PER WEEK WILL CAUSE AN EARLY DEATH.
My go to book on French wine is The New France par Andrew Jefford. The book is complete and well organized. Mr. Jefford is sympathetic to the small artisan vigneron; his writing style is poetic,passionate and emotional. Below is a nice example.
“It smells of smoke and stone and winter air; it tastes as quick and fresh as a chill, pebbly stream tumbling off a dark, rain-draped mountain. Do you doubt the influence of soil on wine flavour? If you do, buy yourself a bottle of Chablis from any starred producer.”
I certainly agree with Jefford on this point and below is an abbreviated list of wines which I
believe taste like soil and Mother Earth. Please offer your own favorites if you wish. I would like that.
–Clos du Tue Boeuf Cheverny Blanc Frileuse
-Claude Branger’s Muscadet Sevre et Maine
-Alice and Olivier Demoor Chablis’ Bel-Air and Rosette
-Anything Marc Olivier touches
–Domaine Henri Pelle Mentou -Salon “Morogues“
–Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc
-Single soil luxury Muscadets from Guy Brossard at Domaine L’Ecu
Every Monday here after, I will be blogging about the wines from the region of Nantais, which is located at the western edge of the Loire Valley in France. This is where the cool Atlantic makes its presence felt via climate and cuisine. It will be a personal journey of sorts, like a scrapbook of immersion into the wines which I imbibe regularly.
, a well known nyc
importer ,whom I admire and respect once wrote,
” a great taster is one with the wine….learn everything you can about the region and producer. Go visit them on vacation. Immerse yourself.” This is what I plan to do; and you can join me on this journey, every Monday, here at The Schist. Enjoy!(I know I will).
For reasons which I can’t explain, Ratatouille, a classic Provencal dish, has never been prepared dans ma cuisine. Thankfully, I wised up last week and sifted through my favorite cookbook, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters; and found a delightful recipe for the dish. It was a cool, crisp fall morning in nyc and I shoved off towards the Union Square Greenmarket with the pup by my side. Side bar: dogs remind me to notice the small things and thoughtfully observe these gifts with gratitude. To supplement the Ratatouille I bought a half dozen eggs for scrambling and a baguette from my favorite vendor. With all the ingredients in my sac, my attention turned quickly towards wine–and what to pair with my simple meal.
Remember, I am relatively young, and live in a shoebox of an apartment(which I adore by the way), so sifting through a large cave a vin is never an option. With some deliberation, I returned to a bottle of the 2006 Clos du Tue Boeuf Cheverny Rouge (100% Auvernat Noir Louis/Dressner $18.00) which I had the pleasure of imbibing at the recent Louis/Dressner National Portfolio tasting. However, trade events offer zero opportunity to give any wine its proper due–especially the hyper-natural wines of the Puzelat brother’s, which are great with food and air . Cheverny is a small enclave in the north eastern corner of Touraine which received A.O.C. status in 1993 and produces red, white, and pink. The delicate reds are made with either Gamay, Auvernat Noir, Cabernet’s, Cot or Pineau d’Aunis. The Puzelat brother’s are doing wonderful work with their chunk of earth ; and offer numerous cuvees including some which include ancient varieties like Romarantin, Pineau d’Aunis and Arbois–all of which their father had a soft spot for. Not surprisingly, the Puzelat’s have a deep seeded reverence for honest, terroir -first type wine making. They practice eco–frirendly farming, avoid using external yeasts, and only add small amounts of sulphur before bottling. Add all this up( and more!) and what you have is a living wine which offers abundant opportunities to connect with nature and capture its beauty in liquid form. For those of you out there tired of industrial wines which are devoid of life, Clos du Tue Boeuf offers a great counterpoint to all the oak smothered, souless , sugar sweet wines which are all too ubiquitous in the market.
Once the ratatouille was done doing its thing, and the eggs were scrambled, I poured myself a cool, vibrant glass of the 2006 Clos du Tue Boeuf Cheverny Rouge( 100% Auvernat Noir). The color in the glass is something enough to make you stop and smile. Spicy, fragrant, airy nose reminiscent of radish spice. The palate had a charming crunchy, thirst quenching texture which softened after an hour or two. A majestic berryness defines the finish. I certainly encourage all of you to try this inspiring, self effacing wine.
Jaime Brockway: Drinking Less Than One Bottle Of French Wine Per Week Is Detrimental To Your Health
With the winds in high gear, and evening temperatures dropping well below 50 degrees, I decided to turn to a spicy bottle of 2006 Domaine Labbe Vin de Savoie Rouge(Michael Skurnik Imports $19.00) to keep warm and give me comfort. This wine hails from the Alpine region of eastern France and is made with an indigenous red grape called Mondeuse; and my friends, it packs a serious punch for the price. The aromas are replete with warm spices and wild flowers…… in fact, may I dare say, a bit of raw honey scent as well!!! Freshness and grace define the palate. For all those hippies out there(me), this wine is like shaking hands with Mother Nature. A humbling wine drinking experience indeed.
If you do happen to spot the wines of Savoie on a merchants shelf, it most often will be of the white variety– not red. Jaquere and other local white grapes dominate the vineyards and market inside and out of France; and this is a darn shame folks because the reds from Savoie are full of charm, and purity. Plus, they are just so damn fun to drink!! The 2006 Domaine Labbe Vin de Savoie Rouge weighs in at a whopping 11.5% alc., which certainly increases the chances of drinking more than two glasses, and being headache free the following morning. At the dinner table, I paired the wine with grilled rosemary sausages and sauteed cauliflower mixed with black olives and freshly cut herbs. The marriage was just delightful; and a great giver of happiness. If you drink Savoie Rouge, more people will like you.
Jaime Brockway Warning: Drinking Less Than One Bottle Of French Wine Per Week Is Detrimental To Your Health.
Hey all, I need your help finding out producer info on the wine pictured above– VDT Jean Maupertuis, “La Guillaume”(Louis/Dressner $14). There is no producer profile on the Dressner website, so I am pretty sure this is a new pick up. What I do know however, is that its from the Cote d’Auvergne and likely made with a chunk of Gamay–but not certain. Nevertheless, this is a f*&ing beautiful wine. Cloudy, faded strawberry color; piercing aromas of earth and tart berries; prickly and refreshing on the palate. I imagine this genre of wine is served often in the bistro’s of Lyon in order to counter the heavy, salty foods of continental France.
Deep breath….. We have all been subject to the wine “experts” telling us when we should drink our wine, “Drink this in five years, that in one, and that wine over there– in twenty five years!!! Listen, i get why they do this, but it’s only a guess and rarely do they actually turn out to be right. Nobody knows for sure how a wine will develop in the bottle over time–not even the winemakers; and the humble ones will admit that. So the next time your favorite wine gets blasted for being under the cloak of an “off vintage”–don’t listen to the “experts”. Many of the most compelling wine drinking adventures in my life have come from dismissed vintages. What exactly does off vintage even mean!?!? For starters, I think the term is way overused and does an incredible injustice to the essence and beauty of wine– in my opinion. I say, if all you want is “classic vintages” in your cellar, then you are not a wine lover, but a wine snob and also a status seeker. Anyway, most of the vintages crowned classic often produce very ripe, lush, loud wines which are qualities favored by most influential wine critics as being superior and of utmost importance. We all know its not that simple. The pleasure which I derive from cellaring my particular favorites in every vintage, is to witness the mysterious and beautiful evolution of mother nature’s honest imprint on wine. Exhale.
Great example. Recently, I landed a huge victory by purchasing the last few bottles of the 2000 Alain Michaud Brouilly Prestige de Vielles Vignes(Becky Wasserman) from a nyc retailer. This wine has it all. Charm combined with power and confidence. Very rare. And if I would have listened to all the commercial journals and American wine pundits…… then this wine would have been drunk up and gone many years back. Brouilly leads the Bojo appellation under vine, and in production. Most Brouilly is fragrant, delicate and made in a drink me up now style. However, the Prestige de Vielles Vignes bottling comes from vineyards planted back in 1910!!!! You do the math. This is true “Old Vines”. The wine showed astounding muscle and grace; aromatically brilliant and full throttle earthiness on the palate. A true vin de garde that I would not hesitate keeping in the cellar for another twenty years. But that’s just a guess, and never to be taken for the truth.
“And those people who would always drink the Musigny over a Monthelie no matter what they have on their plate are not wine lovers. They are status seekers.”-Kermit Lynch
For the fifth or sixth time, I am reading Lynch’s book Adventures on the Wine Route. I learn something new each time I pick it up. A mark of a classic, right? And as my perspectives on life and wine have altered in the past five years(obvious), Adventures on the Wine Route has grown exponentially with meaning and symbolism. When I revisit in 5 years, I will chuckle at the youthful, idealistic scribble I have jotted next to passages like the one above. The book is poetic, humble, and full of character–much like the wines Kermit has been importing for the last three decades.
(photo via nytimes)