Thwarted No More.

So, the other night I was able to do the side-by-side tasting with the 2009 I Masieri and 2009 Sassaia white wines from La Biancara di Angiolino Maule. Unlike the previous time I tried this little experiment, both bottles were sound and doing well. My wine geekiness shall not be denied! The main reason I wanted to taste these wines side-by-side was out of pure curiosity. No grading. No seeing which one was better; more important. Nope, just wanted to see how these two wines from the same producer in the same year differed from each other.

Ivory and ivory-er living together in perfect harmony.

Between the two, the main differences are that the Sassaia is made with 80% Garganega (check out this post from DoBianchi if you’re wondering how to pronounce this) and 20% Trebbiano grapes that have been fermented in wood as well as stainless steel and has had between a day or two of contact with the macerated skins of the grapes. Whereas the I Masieri bottling is all Garganega fermented completely in stainless steel with no skin contact. Speaking of Mr. DoBianchi, he wrote up an excellent post on the Maule winery and family and I highly recommend reading it along with the Maule website linked above to learn more about their wines, their history and wine making philosophy.

I Masieri on the left. Sassaia on the right.

As you can see above, the colors are pretty similar between the two. But, the Sassaia on the right is just a touch darker; a deeper golden color. It also pours a touch thicker and slightly viscous compared to the I Masieri. Both were a touch hazy. Essentially, most of the differences between the two wines follow the same path. The I Masieri is a lighter, easier more direct wine that is best matched for some simple seafood on a warm summer day. Bright with a citrusy twang and ample acidity, it’s easily thrown back with only 11.5% alcohol. By comparison, the Sassaia is deeper, heavier and thought provoking. It requires a bit more contemplation. Because of the prolonged skin contact, it behaves more in line with orange wines. While not having the maceration time of say a Gravner or Radikon, you feel the additional depth; not to mention the (slightly higher) 12.5% alc level. The nose is full of almonds and stone fruit pits and heavier citrus scents. Medium/full bodied, with lively acidity, the extra weight on the palate helps the wine go with heavier foods and cheeses. It went well with both roast turkey and a slightly stinky, washed rind cheese.

So what did I determine after drinking these two lovely bottles of wine? That I need to go buy replacements.

After re-reading the DoBianchi post on Maule, I noticed he mentioned that Francesco Maule was listening to and enjoyed heavy metal. What is it with these young Italian vignerons and metal? Luca Roagna is into it as well, even doing a wine with the singer from the Norwegian band Satyricon (which reminds me that I have to post the ‘mix cd’ I made for Luca of new US Black Metal bands). Anyway, I was wondering if Francesco was familiar with this amazing band (truthfully not metal, but tough as hell) from Trieste, Italy called The Secret. They put out one of my favorite albums last year, Solve et Coagula. Not for the feint of heart, just so you know.

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Mole Fete For SFJoe

Reprinted here from Wine Disorder by my own permission.

It was a grand meeting of Chicago wine geeks this past Saturday night as we all gathered at Josefa and Mark’s backyard under the pretense of toasting a one Mr. SFJoe, who happened to be in town for a conference, as well as tucking into some of the best mole you’re going to find north of the Rio Grande.

I had already been planning on getting together Saturday night to hang out and drink some wine with fellow my wine drinking buddies Phil and Nathan as we do every now and again. But, this time I thought it would be nice to open the invitation to another Chicago wine geek, Arno. As it would happen, just after hearing back from Arno that he’d be down for geeking out with us, Josefa posted on Facebook that she would be making mole and having a get together for SFJoe that Sat night. Somehow I had to get Josefa to agree to letting four dudes she barely knew converge our party with theirs and make it one super affengeil par-tay. Thankfully, she agreed and after letting my ‘crew’ in on the change we just had figure out which wines to bring. And bring wines we did.

First, though, the food. Josefa and her trusty sous-chef (husband) Mark made her famous chicken mole poblano. Good god this was so so good. I wish I could tell you everything that went into it, but what was incredible was the complex subtlety of it. Hints of spice, hints of sweet, hints of bitter… Throw along some amazing green (cilantro) rice, beans and corn tortillas. Forget about it. Oh, and the wine…

The wines. Well, there were a few. For the most part, everything showed pretty well. Out of all the wines only one was corked. Some resonated more with me than others, but they all had something to say. I did my best at trying to remember all the bottles there were. I couldn’t recall some of the specifics for a couple so hopefully someone will chime in to fill in the blanks. Also, since I wasn’t taking notes, I’m just going to mention what I can remember or general recollections/feelings on particular wines.

Vouette et Sorbée Blanc d’Argile ’07 fruit. Disgorged late 2009. Chardonnay. Joe suggested going with this one before the Fidele because of it’s leanness comparatively. And he was right. It was pure chalky minerality and acid. I believe Arno thought it could use some decanting. It did calm down later in the evening. The brasher of the two Vouettes.
Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle Pinot Noir. The particulars weren’t on the label for this one. Much more full and rounder (not saying much) compared to the Argile. Lovely stuff. Aromatically captivating.
2002 Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé This was the first wine I had. Don’t recall too much, other than it was nice. It was noted after the fact, that there was a touch of residual sugar that gave it a little, er, bump. Should’ve went back for another taste.
1998 Francois Jobard Meursault 1er Genevrières Screamed CHARDONNAY! But in a pretty good way. Decent acidity. Just don’t drink much white burgundies. The straight-laced dude in a tie at a dive bar.
2009 Luneau-Papin Muscadet Clos des Allees Only had a sip, but was nice. Seemed well put together if not a tad on the bigger side of muscadet. Still impressive. Could probably go a good long time.
2009 De Moor Chablis Bel Air et Clardy Again, just a sip. And again was big (relatively speaking). I wish I could say I’ve liked the ’09 De Moor Chablis’ I’ve had, but they haven’t done it for me; just not enough nervosité.
2009 Tue-Boeuf le P’tit Blanc Didn’t have this one.
1990 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay Cuvée LD The one thing that struck me was that the nose didn’t match the palate on this one. Nose belied the age whereas on the palate it was quite lively and full of stuffing.
NV Le Grand-Clere (Francois Blanchard) Blanc “Green Wax” This one was a bit of a head scratcher. Brought by Nathan and purchased from Garagiste. We had to go back to the profusely verbose offer to figure out what the fuck it was all about. Evidently its “100% Sauvignon Blanc [with a] majority blend of 2007 and 2008 with 2002 and 2006 added for a touch of oxidation”. It was fun reciting the ridiculous prose of the offer out loud. The wine itself definitely had an oxidized quality to it. I didn’t spend too long with it; just didn’t really care for it much this evening.
1999 Chateau Musar Blanc My first Musar blanc. It was pretty tasty. Unfortunately, it was later in the evening, so I wasn’t really paying too much attention to it. Tried it with the mole and worked ok, not the best paring in the world, but not the worst.
1988 Charles Joguet Chinon Clos de la Dioterie VV Brought by Arno. Was worried when the cork came out fully soaked and a bit moldy on top, but this didn’t miss a beat. Lovely, lovely aged Cabernet Franc. Earth and tobacco and dark red berries. Not going anywhere.
1989 Domaine les Roches Chinon Unfortunately, corked.
1999 Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges Not bad. Started out nicely when I decanted it at home for sediment, but gradually became more and more closed down as the night progressed.
2008 Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Had a little glass of this early on. Nice. Not the best Crozes from them I’ve had, but still decently put together. Red fruit, some minerality, med/light body. Yeah. Later on Joe blows my mind by telling me that the bottle had been open for over a day (maybe even two). I couldn’t believe it. The other bottles I’ve done that to have all gone to oxidized shit by the morning. Interesting.
2009 Dard et Ribo Hermitage Brought by Nathan who’s boss from work went to Paris and brought this back for him from Caves Auge. One of my favorites of the evening. Full of life and depth. Dark red fruits, minerals, spice, full but not heavy. Obviously young. Unfortunately it’s under fake cork. But even under fake cork I believe it’ll be able to go at least five years if stored well.
1992 Edmunds St John Grand Heritage Syrah Was ok. First glass was nice, but by the end of the evening it seemed shrill and out of balance.
1996 Movia Veliko Rosso Hey, a Movia red that wasn’t completely whacked out on wood. Nice.
2008 Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape Not for me. Grenache and I aren’t exactly getting along these days.
2003 Huet Moelleux Le Haut Lieu Also not for me on this night. Just too sweet; too much.

Aftermath picture taken/borrowed from Mark's Facebook page.

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Marcillac Post Script.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for over two months now, but life, death and work all got in the way. And now oddly what I’ve wanted to write about, I’ve recently come to learn, is fast approaching it’s end. Much like finding a band who’s recent album you absolutely love and you become a fan of, anticipating their next one only to find out that that next album will be their last. Well, kind of like this, but not exactly.

I’ve written of my love for the Marcillac from Causse Marines here before. As much as it seems I sing it’s praises, I never get tired of doing so. I first tasted it back in November and it blew my socks off. Late to the Southwestern France game? Perhaps, but better late than never I say. A month or so later it came onto the retail market here in the middle of the west. I picked up a few bottles and was just as head over heels for it as I had been at the tasting. I made it a point to learn as much as I could about this new and exciting area/wine. It wasn’t easy trying find information about this tiny, little appellation (which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Andrew Jefford’s The New France had like a paragraph on it. What turned out to have a nice section about Marcillac was French Country Wines by Rosemary George (which I happened to find at a used bookstore in Detroit). Interestingly, one the producers she detailed was just starting out and happened to be Philippe Teulier who makes what is probably the best known Marcillac wine under the Domaine du Cros. Additionally another resource about the area I found (or was clued into by the author) was an in-depth post on David McDuff’s great blog that he had written about Cros.

Just after I wrote that previous post about Causse Marines, I emailed Kevin McKenna (Joe Dressner’s partner) asking him a few (quite geeky) questions about the wine. He wrote back saying he didn’t know some of the answers himself so he would forward them on to Virginie at the winery. A few weeks later I got an email back from Kevin which had the answers to my extraordinarily geekular questions copy and pasted from Virginie’s response. First, and what will be apparently important in a moment, is that it is Domaine du Mioula who own the vines in Marcillac that Causse Marines get their grapes from and is where Patrice Lescarret (Virginie’s partner) is the consulting winemaker. And what is interesting is that the soil there is “more limestone and not [the] red ground which is very specific to Marcillac”. It’s all Fer Servadou that goes into the bottle, though the people there call it Mansois (and down in Gaillac it’s called Braucol).

As for the age of the vines, she says that the ones that go into the bottle that LDM bring in are between 10 and 30 years old. The ones that are 30+ (and up to 100+) years old go into a special cuvée that I believe only Mioula sells. In answer to the question if they are organically farmed, Virginie says that “The vines haven’t the organic certification but there is a hard work in the vines to be on the organic way (we hope it will be the next step)”. And being very, very honest she says that “there is still one treatment for insects (against “cicadelle”) and until 2010 they used some grasskillers just under the plant. We are trying to impulse an organic way of working but it is still difficult to understand in this region”. From my understanding, this information only relates to their Marcillac bottling and their Gaillac and other wines (like the delicious Préambulles) is actually demeter certified.

Now, here comes the latest news fresh off the Twitter feed (and confirmed by Kevin). And it’s quite sad (at least to me). The 2010 bottling of the Marcillac from Causse Marines will be their last. There will be no more, so stock up.  Evidently, they were unable to reach an agreement with the owner of Domaine du Mioula regarding the progression to organic grape growing and have decided to stop purchasing grapes from Mioula. Sad, no? Though at least it’s assuaged by the fact that Causse Marines are making some other amazingly tasty wines (the Gaillac Les Greilles blanc, I’m looking at you).

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Break In Silence

There will be more to come, but for now, after tasting the wines from Louis/Dressner/McKenna over the last two days, all I have to say is buy as much 2010 Baudry Rosé that you can get your hands on. When you can get your hands on it, that is.

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Thwarted; or Maybe I Should Sue Zuckerberg, Too.

I was hoping to do a side-by-side comparison of two whites from La Biancara di Angiolino Maule this evening, the 2009 versions of the ‘I Masieri’ and ‘Sassaia’ bottlings. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way as the Sassaia was corked. Damn. Hate when that happens. Luckily, the I Masieri was fine and darn tasty at that (especially for a roughly $15 bottle of wine). The LDM site has a breakdown on the differences between these two and their other wines’ differences. According to the Maule website, the Masieri bianco is made from Garganega grapes that are fermented in stainless steel without any prolonged skin contact with a little bit of SO2 added. It’s meant to be no-frills and rough around the edges; a little country wine for the table.

What I found in the Masieri was a light straw yellow color, just a touch hazy. It didn’t taste like a ‘little’ wine to me. It was fairly complex in a way that belied any sense of a ‘lesser’ wine. It had that twang of almonds and citrus peel on the nose that I get from some orange wines. Along with a fairly heavy mouth feel, I could have sworn this had seen some prolonged skin contact. The palate was full of citrus and apricots and minerals all punctuated by a racy zip of acidity. It was fine with my dinner of a baked potato, but I imagine this would really shine with some salumi or a cheese course.

In a way, I’m kind of glad that the other wine was corked (hopefully I can get an exchange on it). As much as I’d like to have geeked out examining the two, looking for commonalities and differences, thinking about how one is ‘more’ or ‘lesser’ or how one ‘speaks to me’ more (and I’m not saying it’d not going to happen once I get a new Sassaia bottle). It was great to have a glass with dinner and then finish the rest of the bottle with Ms. Dérive while watching The Social Network on DVD (pretty good movie [thanks SAG member co-worker!]) and not have to think that hard on the wine.

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Recent Drinks.

Well, to go along with the Recent Tracks post, I figured I should do one on some of the wines I’ve had recently that were of note. Which isn’t to say that I actually took notes on them, I didn’t, so here are some fading memories.

The wife and I killed a bottle of Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée last night (the code etched in the bottle was Lr06 09/08 [which I believe means that it is from the ’06 vintage and disgorged on September 8]). While it started off well enough, it was a bit nowhere at the end. It did have a killer nose though, quite similar to the Terre de Vertus bottling; that certain crushed rock, dirty chalkiness.  And the color was darker than some Poulsards I’ve had. I’ve learned that they are no long being brought in by LDM, but I’ve tasted some of the wines from their new Champagne producer, Francis Boulard, and I think they’ll be alright.

Tonight I had the 2008 Gaillac “Peyrouzelles” from Causse Marines. I’ve already wrote of my absolute love for their Marcillac, and I wish I could proclaim that same level of longing for this, but I can’t. It’s nice enough with deep dark fruit and some dirt, but is much flatter than the other. I felt this way at the tasting back in November and still feel this way now. A vintage thing? A grape blend thing? Dunno. I will say this for it though, it would definitely find a place at my table if I were having some roasted meat, a bunch of people were coming over and I didn’t want anyone to have to think too hard about the wine.

Back before Christmas (the eve of Christmas Eve, to be exact), I found myself wanting some wine. But knowing I wouldn’t be back in our place for almost a week I didn’t want to open a full bottle (I had a 7:30am train to catch) only to have it go bad on the counter, yet I wanted something to drink. I knew it would be too early in it’s evolution, but the 2004 Radikon Ribolla Gialla called out to me. And, well, it was too early to be hitting it. Nowhere near the highs the 2002 version had brought earlier in May, it was I believe pretty closed. There wasn’t much on the nose and the palate only hinted at the depth that laid in the way back. My advice, put your bottles away for a while and revisit in a few years, just make sure to keep a few random (cheaper) .375s or .500s around in case of emergency.

While I’m thinking about it, I’ve kind of had a rough run of encounters with orange wines of the meh kind. The most meh of them all was the 2002 Gravner Ribolla Anfora. Man, was this a let down. My first Gravner and it was just… nothing. It was a nothing wine. A bad bottle? I don’t know. I don’t give a shit. There was absolutely nothing on the nose, the barest of bare hints of almond/apricot pits. On the palate there was just about as much; very light and thin with the slightest citrus-y minerality. The finish might as well have been running a marathon it disappeared so quickly. Part of me thinks that the reason behind the lackluster-ness of this is the anfora. I’m still out jury-wise on whether or not anfora aging helps or hinders. More research (read: drinking) is needed. The saving grace for me is that I picked up this bottle for a song (about half normal price) at CSW. You win some, you lose some.

The other meh orange wine I had recently (well, it wasn’t exactly meh, but it wasn’t that great either), was the 2007 Movia Lunar. This was the second bottle I’ve had and I’m still unimpressed by it. In the land of the orange, it just doesn’t have the depth or character of some of the better ones (Paolo Bea Santa Chiara I’m looking at you). The where’s and why’s of this wine have been discussed by plenty of others, this write up by McDuff is a great place to get caught up (he even links to Asimov’s nice piece). I know it’s going to sound ridiculous, but the Lunar always just seems too nice, too light, too lovely to me; it just doesn’t say anything. Sorry. Something most people mention with this wine is the lack of tannins as compared to some of the other orange wines. Maybe that’s it, I do generally like some of the more assertive orange wines better.

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Recent Tracks.

There have been a few bands/songs that I’ve either stumbled on recently that I didn’t know existed or I hadn’t heard these particular tracks from before. Maybe you’re totally on top of them and I’m hipping you to something you already know. Maybe they’ll be new to you and you’ll like them as much as I have.

First up The Scientists from Perth, Australia.

I had heard some of their more ‘punk-y’, earlier tracks like “Frantic Romantic”, but this later stuff was new to me until about two months ago, when I started gathering tracks for a new mix I’ve been working on. Love, love, love the bass tone one this. Dirty.

Another band I found out about at the same time was Section 25. A Manchester UK band that put out records for Factory and were mates with Joy Division (whom they share a similarity to).

And I just heard this track today from Jorge Ben (who I was familiar with, but not  this song) and I can’t stop listening to it; the groove is super infectious. And when the backing vocals kick in? You can just feel the sunshine pouring in.

Also from Brazil is Tim Maia. Not terribly inventive for album titles (over ten of his records are self-titled), he marries soul and funk with samba and baião, especially on this track (which even has a great psych fuzz guitar tone).

(sorry for the crappy quality of this one, it’s the only one I could find on YouTube)

This next one may alienate some, but I also like heavier, noisier music. The Body from Providence, RI put out an amazing record last year and it was/is one of my favorites. Loud, sludgy, pulverizing. They sound like an artier version of the slowed down parts from power violence bands like Neanderthal or Man Is The Bastard (with better production).

And one more from the heavy department. The band Black Breath also put an album out this past year that is pretty abrasive. From the first note of the first track it just rips your ears apart. To me they sound like Black Flag-era Rollins singing for an ’80s trash band I listened to as a teen. Unfortunately, the videos of tracks off the record have been taken down, but here’s a live version of that first track (song kicks in at :35).

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When A Blogger Calls.

This past Tuesday night myself and a couple like-minded, wine-loving guys got together at my favorite BYO place in town to open a few bottles with everyone’s favorite Italocentric wine blogger Mr. DoBianchi. We got the word that Dr. J would be coming to town and plans for a bit of libational shenanigans were put into motion. Can’t say the shenanigans part of the plan came to fruition (it was a school night after all), but some bottles were definitely laid to waste; some ended up being quite memorable.

First up was the NV Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle. Let me cut to the chase and say, holy shit, this was awesome. I had never had anything from Vouette et Sorbée before, but I truly hope that this won’t be the last. It was full of life. It was full of body. It was full of flavor. It was soul destroying. I’m still thinking about it. I think I’m addicted, like a junkie. I want to sell all my things and buy more. Shit, I want to steal your things and get all I can. And this was just their base cuvée; a blanc de noir from 100% pinot noir. They also have a blanc de blancs and a rosé. My mind races at the thought of how good those must be.

If I were to write anything other than what I thought about the wine, I would just be watering down the information I gleaned from the awesome, detailed write up that Peter Liem did for Saignée’s blog a year and a half ago. Incredible first hand info on Bertrand Gautherot and Vouette et Sorbée. Needless to say the Fidèle knocked my socks off. It’s definitely not a shrinking violet type; fine bead, full mouth, earthy, yeasty nose, and dry. Shit, I’m just reaching for bullshit descriptors. This and the next wine were beyond words. The only thing that can come close is haunting.

I opened the 2000 Raveneau Chablis 1er Vaillons next after the Fidèle. Just a little pour to see if it was corked. I was a little suspect of the bottle. I think it had come via the grey market (as it had no importer sticker on the back and it also seemed like there could’ve been some seepage up top. I meant to open it at home and check it beforehand, but forgot. I wish’d I would have because it wasn’t corked or oxidized in the least, but it was young; it took almost an hour to open up. At first it really wasn’t much of anything; rain water was what I thought. Though, with the last sip I could tell that there was something hiding back behind those rain drops.

To tide us over until the Raveneau blossomed, we opened another gloriously gorgeous bottle of Costadilà Prosecco brought by Mr. Nathan. Man, that wine is simply a good time waiting to happen. All lightly lemony and utterly fresh, this could get any old Eeyore to crack a smile. With a tinge a sea spray and pithy bitterness it’s just as nice as can be. A great accompaniment to the variety of fried Cuban appetizers we had before us. I still think it’s best a bit shaken up to disturb the lees that have settled to the bottom.


Right then. I'm all set, what'll you be having?

While still waiting for the Raveneau, but after the Costadilà, Nathan opened up a bottle of 2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett. Now, I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to Riesling, well maybe heathen isn’t the right word, um, noob, might be the correct term. Whichever word you use, I just haven’t been bitten by the Riesling bug yet. But, this was really quite nice. The nose on this was the best part for me, the aromas just filled your brain with glycerin, citrus and chalk. Though what was definitely memorable was the way it just floated in your mouth. It was so feather-like compared to what you’d think it would be like by the nose. Float like a bee, sting like a butterfly.

Hey, it's a Riesling

At this point I went back to the Raveneau only to find it absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, not showing any of it’s ten years of age and in no way over-the-hill. Lithe and steel-y and brimming with crushed sea-shells it was eye-opening. It was my first Raveneau and the first ‘aged’ Chablis that I felt benefited from that time. Along with the Vouette, it was a one-two punch that I haven’t stopped thinking about.

The last bottle we had was also top notch (and no less worthy of attention than the others). The 1998 Illuminati Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Zanna that Phil brought was pure bottled sunshine with deep, earthy, dark fruit notes; but not heavy in anyway, just comfortable in it’s own skin I’d say. Again, this was the oldest bottle of Montepulciano I have ever had, but it was showing no signs of aging. DoBianchi has just written up a nice blog entry about the wine which goes into a little more detail than I can. It wasn’t one of those bottles that shatters your world (well, at least mine). It wasn’t one that made you sit and contemplate your existence in the world. But, what it was was the prefect bottle of wine to share with some great dudes who I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know over the course of the last year. Thanks for a great evening, gents.

The right bottle, for the right evening.

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Celebrating Celebration

Nice. Indeed.

A couple days before Christmas, I had a little impromptu get together with a friend who happens to have a similar taste in wines. We got together not only to celebrate the holidays but also to celebrate the fact that my kids were in Michigan with the grandparents and we could laugh, drink and listen to music with abandon. So, we opened a couple bottles because we could.

First up was the 2008 De Moor Saint-Bris. A lovely wine of hay coloring and a nose of ripe citrus fruit. I’d never had this wine from them before and truthfully, I didn’t know that De Moor had made a Sauvignon Blanc. I liked it, though I thought it fluctuated between being balanced and being just a bit ‘ripe’. But, it definitely had a great minerality and acidic backbone and went especially well with the (aged) Acapella goat cheese from Andante we had with it. Actually a great pairing and erased any sort of shortcoming I may have felt the wine by itself had had. And because we were rocking the goat cheese, I thought it’d be a great thing to have the 2009 Baudry Chinon Blanc with. Well, I was wrong. The two didn’t really play well together. Which in this case was fine by me, because I loved the wine as it was. All green apple, acid and minerals it was wound up tighter than Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan. It was the type of wine that would give you a hug then slap you in the face while laughing nervously then grab your ass as you walked away telling you to come back later. Yup. I liked it, but a bit of time may help (unless you like it like that).

As for the red wines of the evening, unfortunately they weren’t as exciting. I’ve had kind of a hard run lately with Puffeney’s Pinot Noirs. I had a bottle of the ’08 (mentioned previously) that was just not good; thin, overly acidic, no nose. I have it from someone that that was not an indicative bottle of what it should be. I guess I’ll get another one and give it some time. In the mean time, I figured I’d give the 2007 Puffeney Pinot Noir a chance to make up for the poor showing of it’s younger sibling. Well, it was definitely better than the ’08, but unfortunately something still just seemed off. There was a layer of funk and some VA that made the nose just not that lovely. The palate was alternating nice with some earthiness and spices but also weirdly swampy, disjointed and hot. It really didn’t go with the pork rillettes we were tucking into. To the wine’s credit, it was a bit better the next night and actually went well with some left over Cacio e Pepe pasta; the pepperiness of both playing well with one another. I even had some on day 3 and it still wasn’t saying the right things. The other red we opened was a 2007 Moric Blaufränkisch brought by my guest. It was a lovely enough wine, not enough to really make you sit up and pay attention but a nice companion to evening. And an even nicer companion to the pork rillettes. Which means it played it’s role perfectly. With a nose of dusty, red berry fruit and a similar palate it was similar to, but just a touch less than the ’04 Blaufränkisch from Paul Achs I had had earlier in the week. I’ve heard much about the single vineyard wines from Moric and would love to try those some time.

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Short On Info, Long On Flavor

About a month ago, I went to a tasting of the recent vintages for a few wines (like thirty) that Louis/Dressner (or LDM) import. This was held at one of the best wine bars in Chicago, Webster’s Wine Bar. And while Joe Dressner was to come in and show the wines, a week earlier his health had turned the wrong corner and he was unable to make it. Fortunately the show went on with Joe’s business partner (and the ‘M’ in LDM) Kevin McKenna flying in and hanging out with us. Needless to say, there were quite a few amazing wines that night, but the one that just blew me away, that was the stand-out, knock-me-on-my-ass wine was the 2009 Marcillac from Causse Marines.

Add another eleven and it's exactly what I'd love to find under the tree

That night at Websters I couldn’t stop smelling this; it was intoxicating. I kept coming back to it all night. I’d go taste a few other things, but the thought of the aromas on this was like a sirens call beckoning me back. It was deep and earthy, peppery and meaty. It also had notes of rosemary and blood; it was like liquified salumi. It was love at first smell. Thankfully the taste of it matched the nose. Mouth watering, snappy, spicy, soulful, dark berries, tannins, acid all there, all rolling around on the ground getting busy with each other. The only thing that I could possibly say was wrong, was that I wasn’t eating any meat (preferably grilled) at the time. Safe to say a mental note was made of the vintage, producer and wine and with that label, it’s a pretty easy bottle to remember.  But, wha? Causse Marines?? Marcillac??? No badgers allowed?!?

No badgers allowed but what about Zhu Zhu pets?

Imagine my extreme joy when my local pusher, er, wine seller extraordinaire told me that he had recently gotten some of this in and he was willing to take my money so I could take a bottle with me and partake of this beauty’s charms in the comfort of my home. Huzzah! Well, it wasn’t a fluke, this bottle was just as awesome as the one I’d had at the tasting. *Sniff* Ahhh, same nose. *Sip* Mmmm, same taste. Lovely jubbly. But, now, some questions had to be answered. What was the story behind the producer? Where was Marcillac? What grape was used for this? What was the vine age and what was the soil like that grew in? With so many questions, it was off to teh interwebz.

After a little digging, I really didn’t come up with much. Found an old blog post from Lyle about the ’08 version (he seems to have liked it, too), but it was predominately a tasting note. Though, in the comments section I noticed that Kevin McKenna wrote that the Marcillac was a relatively new wine for Causse Marines. As for Causse Marines itself, I did find a website for them, but my french isn’t the best, the English version isn’t working and it’s not the easiest to navigate. But, with the help of Google translate, I found out that it was started in 1993 by Patrice Lescarret in the town of Gaillac about an hour north of Toulouse in the Southwest bit of France.

Working originally with 8 hectares, but now bumped up to 12 ha, Lescarret is helped  by Virginie Maignien with the intention of honoring the indigenous grapes of Gaillac; such household brand names like Ondenc, Mauzac and Duras. Via my post on Disorder looking for more info, Joe Dressner wrote that “All their vines, from before World War II, have been “grafted in place” and the new plantations come from “sélection massale.” The domaine’s name is derived from the word for limestone plateau on which it is located, called a “Causse,” and the stream named “Marines” which runs at the bottom of the property. Grapes are harvested by hand, and raised and vinified without chemicals. Some wines are free of added sulphites.” He added that the grapes that go into the Marcillac are known as Braucol also called Fer Servadou.

Evidently, Lescarret is quite a character, evidenced at least by the anti-badger tag on the back label, but also by thumbing his nose at the  French AOC laws that state you can’t put the name of the grape on the label. For his varietal wines he skirts around this by calling them Dencon (for Ondenc), Zacmau (Mauzac) and Rasdu (Duras). Joe says they “rigorously follow the teachings of jocular biodynamie” and according to their website, they are Demeter certified. They have also made a Vin Jaune styled wine using the Mauzac grape, called Mysterre, allowing it to develop an oxidative quailty over the course of ten years without being topped up.

As for Marcillac itself (about two hours north of Gaillac), another poster on Disorder wrote what I believe is a quote from the South-West France: The Wines and Winemakers book by Paul Strang about Marcillac and in particular the Domaine du Mioula where Lescarret is/was the consulting winemaker. I’m quoting the following passage, though I don’t know if it’s taken directly from the book or edited. “While nearly all of Marcillac was devastated by phylloxera and had to be replanted and grafted to American rootstocks, Mioula’s owner Bernard Angles claims that a few of his vines are franc de pied. The oldest of the newer vines are 30+ years. Some of Mioula’s vines are planted in chalky soil high up on the causse, above the level of the iron-rich soils that characterize Marcillac.”

This about all the information I’ve been able to glean over the past couple days. If I can find any more, especially regarding the Causse Marines Marcillac, I’ll update this post.

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