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)
When pairing wine and food, I am always thinking regionally; and so should you. There is a reason why Crottin de Chavignol and Sauvignon from the left bank are wedded for eternity. So, two days back when I bought a whole brook trout, garlic,anchovies/pine nuts(whole foods market) and spinach from the Union Square Greenmarket–I knew exactly which wine would be served. Actually, I had no choice in the matter because fresh fish+garlic+olive oil+pine nuts+greens= southern French red. You could do a white as well, like a herbal Cotes du Rhone Blanc; but the damp nyc weather requires a savory red.
I chose a charming bottle of the 2006 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois ‘la bastide‘($12-$17Vintage 59 Imports). Several years ago, I worked almost an entire harvest with Coupe Roses–something like three and a half weeks. The work was demanding, both physically and mentally. Nevertheless, an amazing experience which has shaped my attitudes towards the supremacy of artisan wine making. Their vineyards are some of the highest in the appellation and the wines are marked with better balance and perfume than most– the main reason why they compliment food so well. The “la bastide” is an approachable blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan. Savory and feminine. Dark, yet bright. Drink cool to the touch, like I used to after a long day of work under the Mediterranean sun.
After spending several months in hibernation, I am back! Obviously, many of you have abandoned Jaime Brockway and I cannot blame you for this. A blog without updates is like industrial wine–dead and depressing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my readership in the future consists of just my jewish grandmother. Though, she would be happier if I were a lawyer in Brooklyn.
The other night I met a dear friend of mine at Ten Bells wine bar in the Lower East Side(Broome Street btwn Ludlow and Orchard). It was my first time and I was delighted with the entire experience. The restaurant is dark, inviting, and warm. It was a perfect choice for a sub-zero evening in nyc. The crowd is mixed, but the chatter of the french language is noticeable and pleasant. The entire menu(including wine) is posted on a rustic chalkboard against the wall. I like the look and idea, but practically it’s very inconvenient in a wine bar with no overhead lights and a few sporadic candles. Nevertheless, the wine list includes many of my favorites like Thierry Puzelat and Alice and Oliver Demoor(Louis/Dressner). I had one glass of the nutty, old vine Sauvignon Blanc from Claude Courtois(Jenny and Francois $8. by the glass) I beleive the vintage was 2004. And two lively glasses of Non-Vintage bubbly Melon de Bourgogne from Marc Pesnot(Jenny and Francois $8. by the glass) Both wines paired nicely with the homemade duck rillette. Ten Bells is the type of approachable, innovative wine bar which could inspire a lot of flowery praise. Thankfully, it’s only about a 15 minute subway ride from my flat.
Eating well can be cheap. It’s a cinch. Pan-fried fish, garnished with fresh herbs, takes no more than 10 minutes. We all have ten minutes to prepare a home cooked meal. No excuses.The below recipe was, as usual, inspired by Alice Waters and her marvelous book titled The Art of Simple Food.
First, pour yourself a cool, herby glass of the 2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay(Savio SoaresSelections $22). The round texture of the wine is a nicejuxtaposition to the cut and precision of this dish. Serve this wine cool, but not cold. The warmth of the room will reveal its subtle secrets.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot with olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is sizzling, toss in a fillet of stripedbass, skin side down, for 6 minutes. Then flip and cook for another minute or until done. On the side, whisk in a bowl 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/4 cup olive oil, and two teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Once the fish is done, drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over a plate and position fish directly on top, skin side up. Chop up 1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs like chervil,cilantro, or basil. Sprinkle over fish.
Simple. Rustic. Translucent. Flavorful. Fulfilling. Affordable.