Monday, December 21, 2009

Joyeux Noëlla

I owe a big belated thank you to Joe D. for the gracious invitation to attend the annual Louis/Dressner grand trade tasting in NYC back in October. I'd hoped to go up to the city for both days and to linger after, making a long weekend of it, but that just wasn't to be. I did make it up as it turned out (albeit too late to attend either day of the big event), had a great time, and was even able to console myself by attending the much smaller Dressner junket of producers from the Loir et Cher that was held in the the mid-afternoon at The Ten Bells. You'll find a succinct writeup of the event, as well as some of the other craziness of the day, courtesy of Joe M. at Old World Old School.

Noëlla Morantin was all smiles as she poured her Touraine Gamay for one of my fellow tasters. She and the other producers at The Ten Bells event were clearly enjoying their time in New York and the opportunity to pour in a much more relaxed setting relative to the usual chaos of big trade tastings.

Of all the producers in attendance, it was Noëlla Morantin whose wines both really captured my attention and were relatively new to me. Though Ms. Morantin has been making wine for several years now, she's recently taken the leap from making wine for others to doing so for herself. In the fall of 2008, she began leasing vineyards from the Clos Roche Blanche, whose proprietors, Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet, had been looking to downsize. 2009 was therefore her first harvest and will be the first vintage of wine produced completely from her own labors. For the full details and, as always, some great photographs, check out Bert Celce's profile of Noëlla's work at Wine Terroirs.

The wines from the 2008 vintage she was pouring on this day were made from fruit she purchased from other vine growers who farm organically; as always for Noëlla, they were produced using no additives or commercial yeasts. I enjoyed her efforts across the board, from quaffable, refreshing examples of Touraine Sauvignon and Gamay, to the more layered Gamay "Mon Cher" (on which there's a nice write-up at Cherries & Clay). The wine that made it home with me, though, and that is the answer to Saturday's edition of Name That Wine, was her Touraine Côt.

Touraine Côt "Côt à Côt," Noëlla Morantin 2008
$19. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
Radiant, translucent violet in the glass, with a nose to match — full of blueberry, blackberry and grapey fruit and accented by high-notes of vanilla and dill. The characteristic peppercorn-crusted beefiness of Loire Côt was present, but took a back seat to fresh, crunchy fruitiness. There's a long, loping quality to the wine's tannic structure that, along with lively acidity, makes it eminently food friendly, while its low alcohol and fresh-fruited drive make it just as quaffable as Noëlla's simpler entries.

"Côt à Côt" sidled effortlessly into its second day, those tannins loosening their knots and bringing the wine's fruitiness even more to the fore, with big time flavors of blueberry pie filling now joined by juicy, sweet black cherries. It may lack the animal intensity and cellaring potential of some other Touraine Côts such as that from Clos Roche Blanche or "Le Vilain P'tit Rouge" from Vincent Ricard, but that's no worry. This wine seems built more for everyday enjoyment, and I'd be quite happy to partake of it regularly in just that way.


The Wine Mule said...

Well, now we know about the cork. Given his recent health travails, every day Joe Dresser is on the scene is a good day, yeah?

The Wine Mule said...


Thank you.

David McDuff said...

Absolutely, Mr. Mule. The Big D even had some promising news on the health front last month.

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