Eight Years Old And Still Kickin’

 

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.

Muscadet Monday

 

The first installment of Muscdet Monday commences with a soilful bottle of the 2006 Domaine Cluade Branger Le fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sevre et Maine(Vintage 59 Imports $15.00). The Branger family domaine, and all its vineyards are located in the Muscadet Sevre et Maine–the most well known of the four appellations in all of Muscadet. Lead by father Claude and son Sebastien, the estate consists of 57 acres of vineyards, all of which are farmed sustainably. The Le fils des Gras Moutons hails from 25 acres of their earlier maturing parcels scattered throughout the appellation; and with vine age averaging around thirty some years. The work done in the vineyard is thorough:  all grapes are picked by hand(a rarity in a region full of machine harvesters) and yields are kept low to ensure balance,ripeness, and quality. In the cellar, the wine ferments only with native yeasts in order to express the “placeness” and originality of their terroir. Domaine Claude Branger makes honest, living wines replete with mineral stuffing and class.

Typically, Muscadet is  a wine reserved only for warmer months. However, the bright acidity infused in the wine through lees aging and CO2(Melon de Bourgogne, the grape used to make all Muscadet is naturally low in acidity), make it a charming aperitif or focus with many hearty meals of fall and winter. Take for the example the other night, when I prepared a delightful mixture of roasted root veggies sprinkled with fresh herbs;  and served next to it a shimmering glass of the 2006 Domaine Claude Branger Le Fils des Gras Moutons. Swirling first and dipping the nose, I was struck by the precision and definition of aroma–stuffed with minerality and soaring citrus daggers. One swig; and the sea saw texture of silk combined with bright acidity was breathtaking and made me dream of the languid Loire River. The fresh herbs from the root veggies echoed nicely the subtle, dried thyme nuances I found hiding in the wine. The marriage was delightful and re-affirmed my opinion on the flexibility of Muscadet at the dinner table.