The French have a long tradition of eating outdoors. From harvest tables in Burgundy to breezy rooftops in Paris, a French meal en plein air is full of delicious smells, clinking glasses, and hearty laughter. We find that wine (and really food in general) tastes better outside, with room to breathe and open. A Spring-Summer favorite of ours is “Les Anémones,” a delightful blend from our friend Francis Muré in Alsace.
For burger-related thirst quenching, we often turn to a cold beer or a tall summery cocktail. But to satisfy the occasional craving for grape-based refreshment, here’s a solution. The Syrah from Stephan Montez in the Northern Rhône is low in alcohol (12.5%), inexpensive, and full of cool, dark fruit. But it’s the wine’s smokiness that makes it match with burgers so well.
The wine world loves the word “minerality,” but no one can quite define it. Lettie Teague wrote an extensive and helpful article on the concept last year, where she concluded, “it’s a helpful word to describe wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, or herbal.” Our best suggestion for defining minerality? This wine: Gautheron’s Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2012. However you define it, this wine’s got it.
Pinot Gris, though technically the same varietal as Pinot Grigio, is a particularly French take on the grape. If Pinot Grigio is an aggressive Italian driver speeding along the winding mountainous roads of Northern Italy, Pinot Gris is an old Alsatian farmer, driving his tractor through lush Alsatian hillsides bursting with wildflowers.
Last week we wrote about our last few bottles of the 2004 Pomerol Chateau La Clemence. As we feared, the orders exhausted our supply in a matter of minutes. Though we can’t blame you for your interest in Pomerol, we could barely fill the first two orders from our inventory. So we called M. Dauriac at the Chateau Clemence and asked if he could spare a few more cases of his 2004. He did us one better, and sent us a list of older vintages from all three of his properties.
As Burgundy devotees, we drink a lot of Pinot Noir. Most comes from the golden hillsides of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, but not all of it. For many years we’ve enjoyed Francis Muré’s Alsatian take on the grape: simpler, juicier, more floral.
As in most of the world, there’s really only one sport of consequence in France. This afternoon all eyes will be on the French National Team as it takes the field against Honduras in Brazil. After a disastrous showing at the 2010 World Cup, “Les Bleus” will be looking to redeem themselves. Not too long ago, Chablis was the French export in need of redemption.
As a père et fils business ourselves, we like working with multigenerational domaines. It’s great to watch fathers hand down their nuanced craft to their children, passing along decades of knowledge and experience. The younger generation usually brings new energy and a healthy spirit of innovation. (The innovation can backfire, of course – we sometimes see a burst of overoaking with new hands on the tiller.)
Many of the winemaking families we work with have been in the business for generations; some as far back as the 16th century. It can take years to acquire vines and equipment, and even longer to build a name. All of which makes the earthy, spiced syrahs Denis Basset produces so impressive.
The branding of wine changes from one winegrowing region to another. The Old World tends to use place to identify wine, while the New World tends to use grape varietal. It seems a subtle shift, but it has enormous implications for the way wines are perceived.