An impromptu call led to a particularly enjoyable, relaxed Tuesday evening, sharing good wine and food among good friends. While the chicken thighs for the meal to come marinated in their bath of soy, maple, ginger and garlic, we started things off with a little aperitif, an old friend in the wine sense.
Gaillac Doux “Cuvée Saint-Laurent,” Domaine des Terrisses NV
$16. 9% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Wine Traditions, Falls Church, VA.
The Cazottes family’s Gaillac Doux is the old friend to which I refer. I hadn’t had a bottle of this in years, so was duly jazzed when I saw it emerge from the fridge. Bill didn’t have record of exactly when this was purchased but I can safely say it was a minimum of three years ago, perhaps longer. The lot number on the bottle, L MGD 01, which I take to mean something along the lines of “Lot Mauzac Gaillac Doux 2001,” suggests to me that the wine was most likely based on the 2001 vintage. Even if I’m wrong, it’s safe to say that this had seen some measurable bottle age. It came through it fresh as a daisy, with immediately satisfying aromas and flavors of fresh pressed apple sauce, complete with a dusting of cinnamon. Impeccably balanced, this could easily have paired with a dessert of orchard fruit based tarts but was not at all too sweet to serve as an aperitif. As the wine opened, it developed a lavender overtone on the nose, along with an ever so slightly oxidative character and richer flavors of apple skins and raised pastry dough. Very tasty….
Though it’s entirely proper in the context of today’s production methods to consider the Méthode Gaillacoise as synonymous with the Méthode Ancestrale, local legend has it that the Méthode Gaillacoise was originally realized by plunging partially fermented barrels of white Gaillac wine into the River Tarn during the winter following harvest. The combination of the icy-cold waters and the turmoil of the river’s flow would stun the yeasts into temporary slumber, their activity later to resume, capturing bubbles and a natural degree of residual sugar in the finished wine. Terrisses’ “Cuvée Saint-Laurent” is based primarily if not entirely on Mauzac, perhaps with a small quantity of Len de l’El.
Pfalz Scheurebe QbA trocken, Weingut Ed. Weegmüller 2007
$23. 12% alcohol. Screwcap. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Scheurebe represents only five percent or so of the plantings at Stefanie Weegmüller’s estate yet she always does as fine a job with her Scheurebe as with her expressive, broadly flavorful Rieslings. Stefi’s 2007 Scheurebe trocken could easily play ringer in a blind Gewürztraminer tasting. It’s aromatically loaded with scents of citrus oil, mint, and lemon and orange pith. This was the primary wine drunk with dinner and, at first, I wasn’t entirely convinced it played nicely with the food. A twist of bitter grapefruit (juice and peel) on the finish, along with a deeply-grained texture, makes the wine a bit too aggressive for delicate foods. But as the flavors of Bill’s Asian Chicken built on the palate, Stefi’s Scheurebe got better and better. Translation: this is intensely perfumed wine that plays best with highly flavorful food.
Côte de Beaune Villages, Domaine Michel Lafarge 2005
$35. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Becky Wasserman Selection; Martin Scott Wines, Lake Success, NY.
Tough love. This was one of the most painfully dry red Burgundies I’ve drunk in a very long time; not easy in giving but very rewarding. Medium-red and slightly amber-rimmed, its aromas were of dried cherries, spice cabinet, fennel bulb and red leaf tobacco. It opened with lean, wood and grape tannins and cutting acidity; very narrowly textured yet still very fine. I found it more minerally than earthy, a trait which really suited the wine’s texture, though there was also a distinct aroma of wet clay. We enjoyed this as a meditative wine but it really needs food to blossom – I’m thinking roasted, truffled game birds would be just about perfect. Several more years in the cellar wouldn’t hurt, either. Far from perfectly balanced today but nonetheless profound, charismatic and a study in the pleasures and pain of good Burgundy.
Domaine Lafarge is farmed biodynamically. Their Côte de Beaune Villages, of which only a little over 50 cases are produced in a typical vintage, issues from vineyards situated in the commune of Meursault.