As someone who has spent most evenings working in the restaurant trade, I take every chance I can to cook and spend quality time with people around me. Sometimes its relaxing, sometimes it is stressful (like when I decide to make one of my all time favourite dishes, kokotxas al pil-pil, for the first time ever and serve for the in-law family, going by a video tutorial only), but either way I just love sourcing ingredients and combining them into simple, but flavorful dishes. The result was far from perfect, but on the porch with the sunlight in your face and a good glass of Meursault, it was good enough. Here are some tasting notes of other great wines I’ve enjoyed with good, simple homemade food this last week, or simply when cooking.
This has been my cooking companion for the whole week, and I've been able to have it mostly to myself. For this, I am both thankful and a bit sad. Sherry is no doubt an acquired taste, and this is a "take no prisoners"-sherry . The wine was originally sourced from the cellars of Valdespino by the good people at Equipo Navazos who are doing a great job at bringing sherry back into style - at least in some quarters. The grapes come from the Macharnudo Alto pago, generally regarded as one of the very best vineyards for the palomino fino grape due to the very high proportion of pure white albariza chalk.
The wine has a rather deep, golden color and this is more of a fino amontillado than a pure fino. The nose is intense, saline and angular with both apple, nuts and pungent cheeserind crowded together. Not much flor character. The flavor is bold, mineral and lasts for a very long time. I'd like to say it is an intellectual pleasure, but at the same time, I enjoy it immensely. A stellar bottle.
When was the last time you had to select a dozen bottles of wine for a week and went for a Sauvignon Blanc? I will be the first to admit not taking Sancerre all too seriously, it’s one of those wines that sell by name alone and takes very little effort. But this is something else, and definitely ranks up there as one of the best and most unique interpretations of this grape and terroir I have ever had. It comes from what is perhaps the most priced vineyard in the whole appellation, literally translated into ”damned mountains” in the village of Chavignol. The soils here are terres blanches, white limestone, much like in Chablis. The incline is so steep that it makes mechanized labor impossible.
Boulay is only of the top producers of the area. He works without pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard (one of the steepest plots of Monts Damnés), and in the winery he is one of very few to work with natural yeasts and without manipulations like adding enzymes to fermenting musts to promote those aromas many asssociate with Sancerre. This wine is fermented in large old barrels and is not filtered before bottling.
This makes for a very intense, bright wine, so full of life and energy. There is a serious minerality and structure to it, but this just dances on the tongue, so vibrant and sublime. Oak fermenting has given it a smooth texture, but it still has fierce acidity all woven together in perfect balance. It finishes on that mystical dusty mineral note so often found in wines from limestone soils – I will leave it to others to try to explain the concept of minerality in wine, but I will not deny that it is there.
This is so open and lovely now, but I would be interested to see where it is at in 4-6 years as well. I reckon it might have moved away from the initial fruity and floral state into something more brooding, but equally pleasurable.
What a delightful surprise is was to find a great selection of wine, including this one in a small bistro in a tourist-trap town. Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey might have one of the most confusing names in all of Burgundy (there is a plethora of Moreys, Colins and variants of the two), but he is certainly one you will want to remember if you dig great white Burgundy. Pierre-Yves used to make the wine at his fathers famous domaine, Marc Colin in Chassagne-Montrachet, so he is far from a rookie, even though his own label is only 8 years old. If I could summarize his style briefly, I would say that it is sleeker, more mineral and perhaps more austere than many of his neighbors’, but at the same time intensely floral and aromatic. I love it, and without having experimented with aging the wines myself, I think they will keep beautifully, and some cuvées definitely demand at least a few years.
St-Aubin is a commune which is known for a high and consistent minimum level of quality and good value wines (in terms of Burgundy). The exceptional sites are few, but this is one of them. The vineyard names Murgers des Dents de Chien lies high up on the Mont Rachet with a southerly exposition. The name refers to the rocky nature of the soil (Dents de Chien being the the “dog’s teeth”, and Murgers (or Muergers as Colin-Morey spells it) being a local name for stone walls). It lies a mere stones throw from Chevalier-Montrachet, but further up the hill, but the exposure is more southerly). What is has against it is altitude and the cool breeze from the valley that flows down from the valley that leads up the village of St-Aubin. But with climate change, perhaps we will regard this vineyard more highly in 100 years?
This is not a wine for cowards. If tastebuds had asses, this wine would kick them. Judging the nose alone, you might expect an anemic, lean figure – it is pure citric fruit and white flowers. But the palate has the composure of chiseled marble statue, so powerful and weigthy, yet smooth and beautiful. It might make me a masochist, but I love drinking wine like this, wine that hurts a little. Especially in a vintage like 2010, with its fierce acidity. So, if you're into that, drink now or over the next 2 years, otherwise, keep for up to 10 years.
2008 Domaine du Collier, Saumur Blanc, Loire, France
Antoine Foucault is son of Charly, who together with brother Nady runs the legendary Clos Rougeard in Saumur, who make what many regard as the pinnacle of Cabernet Franc (although their white Saumur "Brézé" is stunning). Antoine worked there for four years, but at the young age of 26 left to purchase a few hectares of vines in Chacé, the commune of Saumur, which is most famous for its white wines, based on Chenin Blanc of course.
Antoine runs this domaine together with wife Caroline. They farm without fertilizers and chemical pest treatments in the vineyard, and the winemaking is non-internventionist with only native yeast and sulfur only at bottling. The cool cellars are key, much like at Clos Rougeard. I wouldn’t put Domaine du Collier the “natural wine” camp, but this style of winemaking is for me ideal in terms of balance between nature and man.
Now, I have never tried the other white wine Antoine makes, Saumur “Le Charpenterie”, from 100+ year old vines (the ones that go into the regular Saumur Blanc are 30-70 years of age), but for me this epitomizes what Chenin Blanc is all about. It jumps out of the bottle, so fragrant and ethereal, with yellow apple, honeysuckle and sweet spice. The palate has a lovely sense of paradox: density and weightlessness at the same time. The acidity lifts this huge mass of concentrated flavor and carries it all the way through. There is a touch of sweetness in the finish, but I feel like it is less than in recent vintages. This has perfect balance, is an immensely usable wine, this can tackle richer fish and shellfish dishes but also lighter meat courses much better than any Chardonnay. Although I see no immediate reason to age it, I am sure it will keep for a very long time.