Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pif Night Wines

As promised, here are a few thoughts on the wines we opened at "Pif night" on a recent trip to Ansill. The great thing about BYOs (or BYO nights at normally non-BYO restaurants) is the opportunity they afford to open and enjoy several wines at dinner without running up an astronomical tab. Given the $15 corkage policy on regular evenings at Ansill, I'd be inclined to carry my own juice on any night of the week, not just Tuesday or Sunday.

Vouvray “Cuvée de Silex,” Domaine des Aubuisières (Bernard Fouquet) 2007
$16. 13% alcohol. Stelvin. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA.
Where has this been all my life? Really delicious young Vouvray, just about all you could ask for from a wine at this price point. In terms of both aroma and palate, it displayed a classic up-front profile of d’Anjou pear, honeysuckle, honey-laced apples and a touch of succulent stoniness. Its sec-tendre style (just slightly off-dry), along with visceral, shimmering acidity, makes this an ideal aperitif and a solid choice for shellfish dishes (think scallops) or a cheese course. It should also be quite suitable for mid-term aging.

By odd coincidence, given that I had carried this from home and bemoaned the absence of anything interesting on the wine list at Ansill, it turned out that one of my coworkers was sitting in another restaurant about eight blocks to the north, at the very same time, and ordered this exact wine from the restaurant’s list. If their wine list is any indication of what they’re up to, I’ll need to give Fork a revisit sometime soon. It’s a spot I frequented when they first opened but have neglected for many a year now.

Bourgogne Rouge “Cuvée Prestige,” Domaine Philippe Charlopin-Parizot 2005
$32. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Elite Wines, Washington, DC.
I’m not sure how to explain the fact that, to the eye, this looked transparent and pale in the bottle but inexplicably dark in the glass. My other sensory abilities, though, told me that this was probably a little heat whacked. Soft, even a little spongy in texture, with sweet red fruit and an almost Port-like nose. The alcohol stood to one side, the wine to the other, with a gap in between. Hardly the epitome of Burgundian grace. When all was said and done, it was short and simple. Almost certainly a compromised bottle.

Marsannay “Langeroies,” Domaine René Bouvier 2005
$38. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Elite Wines, Lorton, VA.
Sniff. Ahh, that’s more like it. There were some definite modern evocations at play but plenty of interest as well. Oak was evident but well knit, allowing the bright, gamy and wild red-fruited character of the wine to leap up and strut its stuff. Cherry stones, blackberries and thyme all came to mind. Excellent balance and quite food friendly, there was a very attractive sappiness – a sense of green energy – at the wine’s core. Definitely worth seeking out, this is offering plenty of drinking pleasure already but should only get more interesting in a few years. A pretty solid value given the economics of the vintage.


Michael D. said...


Very glad the aubuisieres 2007 was showing well. Recently, I opened two bottles and both smelled violently corked(got confirmation from my co-workers too!!) But wait we thought.....this vintage is screw cap, so how was this possible??? Any thoughts? I have never run into a problem like this. Let alone two times from two different sources. Strange.

David McDuff said...


You're right about the screw cap. I'd missed it in my notes and listed this as cork sealed. Correction made.

As to cork taint in a cap sealed bottle, the most likely scenario -- and a scary one for M. Fouquet -- would be a problem with airborne TCA in the winery. Treated lumber can carry TCA taint in high enough concentration to affect wines. I've also encountered corrugated wine boxes that smelt so strongly of TCA they'd have been perfect demo examples of what to look out for. If a pallet worth of such boxes was stored close enough to a batch of wine, I expect the same effect might be possible.

I'm sure there are other less severe scenarios in which environmentally borne TCA could have affected the wines .

Anyone else care to chime in?

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