Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Natural Pair from the Touraine

If, as a friend recently quipped, $20 is indeed the new $12, then that never ending search for every day wine values continues to lead this taster to the Loire more regularly than any other wine region. Even though the good old $9-12 Muscadet is starting to become an endangered species, there’s still a ton of great stuff in the under-$20 range to be found along the Loire’s 630-mile path. I carted two examples along for the ride to a new BYO in my neighborhood just a few nights ago.


Touraine Sauvignon “No. 2,” Clos Roche Blanche 2007
$16. 12.5% alcohol. Nomacorc. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
The more I drink from Clos Roche Blanche, the more I'm convinced that proprietor Catherine Roussel and winemaker Didier Barrouillet are producing some of the best values in the wine world. Period. Their “No. 2” is a lovely example of the purely fruit-driven side of Loire Sauvignon Blanc. Very clean aromas border on the tropical. Lime juice and tonic drive the middle of the palate, while peach skin and ripe gooseberry flavors liven up the edges. Texturally, it’s round right up front, even a little pillowed, but its acidity vibrates through on the finish with a buzz that makes the mouth water. I drank this over the course of four days – something I rarely do – and, while the acidity had faded somewhat on day four, its fruit held up admirably. Adept with food and certainly viable as a sunny day quaff.

Touraine “Le Vilain P’tit Rouge,” Domaine Ricard 2006
$18. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
The ’06 version of “Le Vilain” is a blend dominated by Côt, to the tune of about 90%, rounded out by a dash of Cabernet Franc. It’s shed a bit of its baby fat since I last tasted it – and become all the more interesting, if perhaps a tad less friendly, for the change. The Malbec (called Côt in the Loire) makes a clear statement via a nose full of wild, gamy red and blue fruits accented by a touch of smoke. Those aromas translate to similar flavors on the palate, backed up by a solid arc of acidity and tannins that are cool, firm and slightly tangy. More sour than bitter. This cries out for food – think duck or roast pork – and should do interesting things in the cellar over the course of the next five years or so.

Don’t let the cutesy label scare you away. I can’t say there’s no eye to marketing in its design. Mainly, though, it just captures young vigneron Vincent Ricard’s wry sense of humor and strong attachment to making expressive, natural wines. I’ve written about the story behind its name in the past, so I won’t make this post any longer by repeating it here.

3 comments:

Mike Drapkin said...

McDuff:

Looks like we agree about Clos Roche Blanche. I like your palate. Check out my most recent post on The Schist and you will understand. Cheers!

David McDuff said...

My palate thanks you, Mike. Always good to find a kindred spirit. Keep up the good work at The Schist. Your enthusiasm is definitely a breath of fresh air.

Mike Drapkin said...

Thanks McDuff. I appreciate the nod. Enthusiasm, knowledge and humility is what connects us kindred spirits.

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