On the surface, this may read much like previous installments of Wines with Bill or Notes from a Sunday. This time, though, there was a grander occasion at hand – the 50th wedding anniversary of my buddy Bill’s folks, who were up from North Carolina to celebrate with family. Needless to say, it was my pleasure and honor to be invited. The main point, of course, was to enjoy each other's company, but we did enjoy some good wines along the way.
Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “Clos des Briords” Vieilles Vignes, Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Olivier) 2005 (from magnum)
This was opened and enjoyed before my arrival but, luckily, my thoughtful hosts had stashed away a bit of the bottle. Classically saline, with a burst of lemon zest on the front palate spreading into a broad, creamy mid-palate, finishing with a knife’s edge of acidity. No surprise, it rocked with the mussels Bill steamed in the same wine, richened up a bit with just a few pats of butter. Why isn’t there more Muscadet available in magnum? $30 (magnum). 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
Vin de Table Mousseux “Le Vinsans Ricard,” Domaine Ricard NV
More fun with words from young vigneron Vincent Ricard, whose estate is based near the Touraine village of Thésée. To borrow from his own text on the label’s sidebar, this is naturally pétillant Gamay, made without dosage and only lightly filtered. Exuberant and direct, bursting with fresh raspberry and strawberry fruit, accented by a dash of watermelon and mint. Served chilled, on the porch, with barbecued chicken thighs. It’s hard to imagine a better match. $22. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé, Domaine des Corbillières 2007
“Le Vinsans” was a tough act to follow, a challenge made tougher by this rosé’s almost total lack of aroma. In the mouth, however, it gave a pleasant enough display of watermelon fruit and mineral character, combined with a vegetal hint that reminded me of boston lettuce. Surprisingly long on the finish and a reasonable match with a very tasty bowl of gazpacho. $12. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, DC.
Moulin à Vent Vieilles Vignes “Réserve d’Amélie,” Domaine Gérard Charvet 2004
I was really pleased to see this make an appearance as it had been a couple of years since my last taste. Not as altogether happening as I hoped/expected but there was definitely nothing amiss; the wine’s just in a bit of a dumb phase. Still, it would be a fine antidote for anyone who is still a nonbeliever in the joys of Beaujolais. Granitic minerality layered atop briary, black cherry pit flavors. Lighter than I remembered up front but with a depth of flavor that belies its weight. $16 on release. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Wine Traditions, Falls Church, VA.
Montlouis-sur-Loire "Les Choisilles," François Chidaine 2002
Another wine I hadn’t visited in a while and this time I was very surprised. Much more evolved and oxidative than I would have expected and really not showing very well. Intense grip and some sense of remaining muscular anatomy on the finish but all cobwebs and moth-eaten clothes up front. Wool clothes, that is, given its intensely lanolin nose. I’m still holding a couple of bottles so I’ll have to hope it’s just going through an awkward phase. $23 on release. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Savennières "Clos de Saint Yves," Domaine du Baumard 1997
This provided an interesting contrast to the Chidaine, at once more evolved in its overall state yet still in possession of greater freshness of feel. Frail, lacy and pretty, with aromas of almond cookies and chamomile tea. To continue the funereal metaphor, more like a well-preserved skeleton, dressed in a silk chemise. $25. 13.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Ex Cellars, Solvang, CA.
Saar Kanzemer Sonnenberg Riesling Grösses Gewächs, Weingut Johann Peter Reinert 2005
This was opened, in spite of its painful youth, as recompense for the lackluster showings of the two Chenins. My note taking dropped off at this point, so I can only offer some basic, instinctive impressions. Pure nerves of steel, with Reinert’s typical touch of grace and expressive fruit maintained, even given the physiological intensity of what equates to an Auslese trocken from the Saar. Wine to hold and savor. $48. 13% alcohol. Vinolok. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.