Monday, October 30, 2006

A Really Great Wine

One of the reasons that I do what I do are the wine tastings. I used to revel in these moments, looking forward to each with the anticipation of a kid running home Halloween night with a bag full of candy… oh, which one will I gobble down first?

But more and more my bag is overflowing with the same candy. Recent tastings have left me wondering wether those harbingers of doom (me included) were right; we are moving with giant steps towards a uniformity of taste, adorned in Chairman Mao grey sporting both little hats and stars.

But then there was Tissot. The Jura has been able to resist for the moment the group goose step. No one talks of Parker’s influence here and Michel Roland doesn’t have a consulting gig. Perhaps the wines are just too weird to begin with, or perhaps it’s a confidence that’s rooted in tradition and heritage. Jura wines are always distinctive, and often very good.

One of these is Stephan Tissot’s 2004 Traminer. First tasted with Beau at last year’s Salon des Vins, I finally got an opportunity to drink a bottle.

Arbois 2004, Traminer, Domaine Andr├ę et Mireille Tissot (vins alain belanger ....$25)

Made with gew├╝rztraminer related savignan, this is an Arbois for all. Responsible for the somewhat eccentric Vin Jaune, a sherry like white which often scares the uninitiated away from the region for good, the savignan here is treated differently. Where the vin jaune is matured for 6 years and 3 months under an oxidizing film forming yeast called a ‘voile,’ this savignan is vinified with ‘ouillage.’ Ouillage means that the casks are continually topped up, replacing the evaporated wine which prevents the development of the voile, thus preserving the fruity character of the wine.

I don’t often go for tasting notes but the aromatics of this wine blew me away. I spent a good 15 minutes swirling and sniffing, as did a number of us at the table. Blue-haired Joe said it reminded him of October in an apple orchard on a cool, dewy morning. I found at the core ripe Santa Clara plums, along with sweet honey-suckle. The acidity balanced a formidable richness to perfection that makes this a wine with a host of possible pairings (I kept thinking oysters Rockefeller).

In this age of so much sauvignon, and shit loads of Chardonnay, it is always refreshing to have an alternative. As Beau put it, find it and snatch it up right away.

No comments: