The first wild salmon of the season, from the Columbia River I believe, provided ample reason to get together with some of the usual suspects last Sunday to enjoy a meal, watch the finale of the first road stage of the Giro d’Italia, see the Flyers lose to the Penguins in NHL playoff action, and pull a few corks along the way. A mostly unplanned Pinot Noir theme turned out to pay dividends at the table.
Marsannay Rosé, Domaine Collotte 2007
Salmon pink, with just a tinge of copper and rose petal at the edges. Clean and fruity in style, with aromas of spring peas and strawberry. Simple, feminine, very pretty and eminently quaffable, this bears – not surprisingly – more in common with other cool climate rosés, such as Sancerre and Chinon, than with the more herbaceous and often sturdier rosés of Provence and other sunnier climes. Choice as an aperitif, I could also see this pairing nicely with a picnic of cold chicken and crusty bread. $18. 12% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA.
Arbois Pinot Noir, Jacques Puffeney 2004
Though I think any of the evening’s wines would have worked well with the dee-lish dish of wild salmon, braised corn and shiitakes served up by my generous host, Puffeney’s Pinot Noir was serendipitously perfect. Twangy, edgy and full of savory acidity, with cherry pit and mineral elements on the palate. Initial aromas of wintergreen and sous-bois led with aeration to sweeter aromas of strawberry-rhubarb crumble, all finished off by a hint of seashell, solid mid-palate feel and pretty decent length. Excellent food wine and, while not inexpensive, a pretty solid value as it stands right up to most red Burgundy at the same price point. Plus, it’ll earn you more wine geek bonus points. $25. 13% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Rosenthal Wine Merchants, New York, NY.
Nuits-Saint-Georges “Vieilles Vignes,” Domaine Robert Chevillon 2004
Some of the foremost authorities on the wines of Burgundy write of Chevillon with words of reverence. To quote just one, Matt Kramer writes:
“Simply put, this is the supreme domaine in Nuits-Saint Georges…. This is Nuits-Saint Georges as it should be but so rarely is: concentrated, tannic, almost painfully intense, yet with no apparent winemaking signature.”
- from Making Sense of Burgundy, 1990
That the painful intensity and tannic structure have already subsided in this ’04 from Chevillon – if they were indeed there earlier on – goes hand in hand with my other immediate impressions. This is delicate, graceful and deep, far less dark and brooding than I would normally expect from Nuits-Saint-Georges, even in a lighter, livelier vintage. It is indeed free of discernible signature. Medium garnet color, with a nose of cloves and brambly wild blackberries. Fine, gravelly tannins provide lovely texture that, along with excellent acid balance, shoot sparks of red and black fruit across the palate. Another excellent food wine. Lovely contrast between precocious fruit and accents of sweetness. If only I had a few more for the cellar. $50. 13% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Wine Cellars Ltd., Briarcliff Manor, NY (“acquired from a private cellar”).
Coteaux du Layon “Carte d’Or,” Domaine des Baumard 2004
While the prices of Baumard’s Savennières and Quarts de Chaume have crept up steadily over the last few years, his Coteaux du Layon wines have held relatively steady. Like those of Château Soucherie, one of which I wrote up in the last installment of Notes from a Sunday, they remain solid values. Its aromas include peach blossoms, mango and clover honey. Scintillating acidity delivers waves of intensely concentrated pear fruit across the palate. Very primary at first, only with substantial air did the expected minerality emerge, accompanied by an accent of miso. Paired admirably with strawberries macerated with fresh mint (as did the Puffeney, oddly enough). $20. 12% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Ex Cellars, Solvang, CA.