Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two from Jenny, François and Neil

Regular readers may remember postings from my July jaunt up to New York. One of the highlights of that trip was a very relaxed dinner at the home of one of my favorite wine bloggers, Brooklynguy (aka, Neil). As if inviting a stranger (that would be me) into his home, introducing him to his family and cooking him dinner weren’t enough, Neil all but forced two bottles of wine into my hands not long before we bid adieu for the evening. They were two of his favorite day-to-day pours that, obviously, he really wanted me to try. On the ball as Brooklynguy is I think he also knew that I would have to jump through hoops to find either wine in the Philadelphia area. Both wines come into the Eastern US thanks to Jenny & François Selections.

Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup “Les Tonillières,” Mas Foulaquier (Blandine Chauchat) 2005
$17. 13.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Millesimes Fine Wine Traders, Boston, MA (Jenny & Francois Selections, World Wide Wine, Ltd., New York, NY).
This reminded me in a lot of ways of the Minervois from Château d’Oupia that I wrote up a while back, but extra-chunky style. Snappy aromas of macerated wild berries, dark ground spices and tree bark. Very alive in the mouth, its vigorous texture delivered a sense of energy to all nooks of the palate. Hardly high acid but much brighter and fresher than far too many other wines from the Languedoc. It somehow managed to be rustic, charming, boisterous and refreshing all at once. Perfectly suited to robust comfort foods like ribs, pot pies or burgers. Though a solid value in the mid-to-high teens, it would be fantastic if under $15.

Cahors, Clos Siguier 2005
$12. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: USA Wine Imports, New York, NY (Jenny & Francois Selections, World Wide Wine, Ltd., New York, NY).
I heeded Brooklynguy’s advice and decanted this. I’m glad I did. When first poured, this gave off the most highly floral nose – all crushed blue flowers – I’ve ever come across in Cahors – or any Malbec based wine, for that matter. Add to that just the lightest note of the wet paint scent common to SW reds and things seemed to be off to a good start. It was lighter in weight than I’d normally expect but firm tannins and fairly high acidity provided firm sinew. Shortly thereafter the wine shutdown, becoming lean, even a little sour on the palate, like slightly unripe purple plums. The tannins softened up while the acidity heightened.

After a good thirty to sixty minutes in the decanter, though, things really turned around. The wine took on weight. Balanced structure returned. And the aromas blossomed again (no pun intended). A suggestion of bittersweet cocoa powder showed up on the palate, played off against ripe plums and damp earth. The wine remained light – it’s really not a powerhouse style of Cahors – but turned out to be full of invigorating flavors and just a beauty to smell. I found myself softly exclaiming just about every time I raised the glass to my nose. $12 for a wine with this much character is nothing to sneeze at, just as its 12% alcohol – and my palate tells me that’s an accurate level – is more than welcome in today’s climate. I found it pretty dead-on with grilled lamb chops. Neil likes it with duck. Either way, I’m indebted to him for the experience.


Brooklynguy said...

How great that you enjoyed these, and I'm so happy to have been able to share them with you. Great notes, and waaaay better photos than the old ones on my site. I'm sorry to say that the Pic St Loup wine seems to have gone up in price now. it might be about $20, which really burns me. I should have bought a case when it was on sale for $13.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for the pricing update, Neil. Definitely a bummer. I don't often buy by the case -- budgetary and storage restrictions.... I'm sure you know how it is. Sometimes it does pay to jump first, though.

And thanks again for the wines. A very kind gesture to be sure.

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