Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lobster on the Moon
Nailing Down the Boiled SeaBug

It has been a quest that has spanned almost a decade, but I believe I have finally found the perfect foil for the boiled lobster, with or without the lemony garlic butter. It is a wine that combines the minerality of a Chablis, the richness and oxidative flavors of great white Rhône, and the acidity and herbal notes of Gruner Veltliner. Add to this list bio-dynamic, a hint of sugar, and the fact that the vigneron has chosen to break from tradition and produce a wine that he wanted, as opposed to what the AOC rules impose, and you have one of the most unique dry Chenin Blancs that I have ever had the pleasure to drink.

Anjou Blanc 2001, La Lune, Ferme de la Sansonnière ($50…importation)

While the wine carries the Anjou blanc appelation, it is actually produced in Bonnezeaux, home to some of the best sweet Chenin in the world. However, as AOC rules allow only for sweet wines in Bonnezeau, winemaker Marc Angéli has been forced to give his wine the general Anjou label. While I appreciate the spirit behind the French AOC system, that is to protect the regional character of french wine, there must be room for vignerons like Angéli who are simply pushing the limits of tradition. A Bonnezeau will fetch a higher price than a lowly Anjou Blanc, and people like Angéli should be compensated for their efforts. I have no problem drinking a Bonnezeau Sec. But if this is the future of Anjou, then sign me up.

An intense gold color reminiscent of sweet Chenin, this is a far cry from the white flowers and citrus flavors that are the hallmark of most dry Loire Chenin. Hints of honey, browning apples, figs macerated in eau de vie, are but a few of the flavors encountered as we slowly worked down the bottle. As the bottle warmed, it became unbelievably rich, almost to a buttery caramel that makes me wonder if the wine has seen a bit of time in oak. This was rich to the point where I couldn’t remember wether or not I had dipped the lobster meat in the butter or not. Balanced by a wonderful acidity, it never became to heavy, just an exceptionally profound wine that combines the weight and breadth of classic Loire sweet with the facility of being dry. Amazing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Head First Into the Pink
An All-Rosé Dinner For Two

The Apero
Bugey Cerdon, Méthode ancestrale, Raphael Bartucci ($30..importation)
What’s a dinner without, well, pre-dinner drinks while basking in the late afternoon sun. This rare and magnificent bubbly is a mix of Gamay and Poulsard and the method ancestrale implies a double fermentation which is closer to that of a cider than that of champagne. The end result is demi-sec bliss. The color approaches that of raspberry but the fruit is a mix of strawberry and black cherry. Just enough sweetness to make it go down a little too easy and with fine, soft bubbles that are reminiscent more of a fine bubbly than those of a cheap mousseux. At 7.5% alchohol, a bottle for two is just enough to put a smile on your face.

The Dinner
Coteaux-du-languedoc 2004, Pic St-Loup, Château de Lancyre ($15..saq)

Buy two bottles and pour most of the first one into a pan, add some shallotts and herbs and boil it up. Next, down to a simmer and poach up some salmon. This Syrah-Grenache blend is Rosé elegance. Very dry with a wonderful mix of summer berries and pepper, it is the consummate dinner rosé with more fruit in the nose than in the mouth. A crisp acidity keeps it fresh but is does have an almost creamy finish that worked wonders with the yoghurt hollandaise which accompanied the salmon.

The Gourmandise
Zweigelt Rosé 1998, TBA, Nouvelle Vague, Kracher ($65…importation..375ml)
Expensive, but what is too much when pink is on the menu? Austrian sweet wine master Alois Kracher takes it a step beyond with his French oaked sweet zweigelt. Kracher makes his ‘traditional’ bottlings in Accacia wood while his ‘nouvelle vague’ bottlings tend to be slightly higher in alchohol and in French oak. A truly bizarre wine, it combines intense notes of strawberries, candied raspberries and a hint of burnt bar-b-q chicken. A nice acidity combined with an unctuous texture, it struck me that it had a bit of botrytis which added to the lingering complexity. Interesting and reminded me of a Banyuls but with brighter fruit. Try it with all things chocolate.